So they tell you to shoot for the stars, and this time I did! I reached out to Joy Eggerichs, founder of Love and Respect Now, on Twitter and asked her if she would be willing to participate in this blog series. I remember “meeting” Joy online sometime during the past few years, but I don’t remember the details (and I’m sure she doesn’t either). I always feel a little hesitant to ask favors of well-known ministry people because I know they’re so busy and have a lot of people asking for favors. However, Joy was very gracious and said “yes”! But there was one catch . . .
She wanted to do a phone interview!
Of course my introverted soul went into a bit of being star-struck and nervous. It’s easy to send smart, well-known world-changers a list of questions to answer, but it’s a whole other thing to actually have to talk to them and sound half-smart yourself. I openly admit that since our conversation I’ve analyzed every word I remember saying and said to myself, “I can’t believe I said THAT!”
Anyway, it was such an honor and blessing to talk to Joy personally. As with all of these interviews, I left the conversation having gained more insight into my own life and relationship with Jesus.
I want to give a huge shout-out and thank you to Joy for taking time out of her schedule of much bigger projects to make this one important. I know it’s going to bless all of you.
Now on to the good stuff!
I started out by asking Joy her age and where she grew up and lives now. Joy is 32 years old and lives in Portland, Oregon. For some reason I thought she lived in Nashville. Maybe because that seems to be the Mecca for creatives right now, especially in the blogging world, but no, it’s Portland which I’m sure is just as fabulous. Joy grew up in Michigan, however.
Tell us about your job.
About 10 years ago, Joy started working for her parents, Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs, who are the creators and founders of Love and Respect Ministries. Joy started out directing her parents’ conferences, and she continually heard the question, “Where was this information 20 years ago?” After about two years working for her parents, Joy went through a difficult break-up herself, which included a broken engagement. It was obviously a rock-bottom time in her life. She took four months off from Love and Respect, and during that time her dad told her, “In this time of brokenness, I want to encourage you to be open to serving.” Joy’s response was something like, “Serve? I have nothing more to give!” Out of this experience came Love and Respect Now.
Joy wanted to be a bridge to start the conversation between single and married people and share the information of Love and Respect with her generation – Generation X and Millennials. For seven years Joy has poured her life into this ministry, and more recently she’s begun a new project called The Illumination Project.
The Illumination Project is a six-week study where single, married, and single-again people live relationships in the light with a core community of older, wiser counsel.
What are you most passionate about?
When I asked Joy what fires her up, what she is most passionate about, she said The Illumination Project. This is her self-published work, a concept that has been in the making for four years. The Illumination Project asks, “What questions does my generation have, and how can we seek answers?” Joy explained that many Christians in her generation write to her and want formulaic answers to their relationship questions. She believes that our Western culture can influence linear thinking. However, scripture is not linear. It is relational. God does give us a formula to follow. Instead, He seeks a relationship with us, and through that relationship – by seeking Him out, praying, and praising Him – we find answers. So through the Illumination Project, Joy’s biggest passion is encouraging people towards holiness and loving God.
How do you serve in your community and church?
First of all, Joy’s office is at her church. Because the staff at Love and Respect is small, they can live all over the country, so Joy lives in Portland and works out of her church. Joy serves on the Prayer Team at her church. On Sundays she prays with people who come to the front after the service. Joy also has a heart for the old and the young. Joy visits two ladies at a local nursing home regularly. And she mentors a 22-year-old woman. They meet once a week.
What do you love and hate about singleness?
Joy shared with me what I think we all experience during singleness. She loves autonomy in the daily life things like eating what she wants, when she wants, and going to bed whenever she wants to go to bed. Joy also shared that she likes silence and being alone.
At the same time, Joy longs for everything that would take away these self-governing perks of singleness. She longs for a spouse and children and the loudness that comes with it all.
I can totally relate to Joy’s feelings, even as a married woman. I shared with her that just last week I told someone I wish I could be single like two days a week and the rest of the time be married. As a personal side note, the daily life things were the hardest for me to adjust to with being married. There are many days I long for silence.
Overall, how do you feel about being a single woman? Are you more content and peaceful, or not?
Joy says she feels waves of peace. She does not feel she is designed to be single; however, even though that is a desire of her heart, she believes that the brokenness that is part of this life may prevent her from getting that desire fulfilled in the way she pictured. As she gets older, she realizes that she may have to mourn the loss of marriage and biological children.
Do you ever get mad at God because you’re single? If so, how do you deal with it?
Yes! Joy shared with me that she intimidates guys because of her job. She confesses that she wouldn’t want to date a male version of herself, either. But if you read the Psalms and Lamentations, you see that life is not meant to necessarily make us happy, but to point us towards a relationship with Jesus. Joy says that because God wants a relationship with her, singleness is okay if it accomplishes that purpose.
What is your biggest pet peeve about the way single women are perceived?
I appreciate Joy’s objectivity in her answer here. She says that on one hand the sensitivity of singles is real, and singles need to chill out. However, there’s a stereotype that singles have a lot of time, which they do, but that doesn’t mean that burnout is not real for singles just like it is for anyone else. Singles often feel guilty for not doing more, but then they end up hitting a wall. They also can do so much that they do not have time to date. Sometimes you have to exchange one holy or good thing for another. In this case, you have to exchange doing more as far as serving in the church or community for giving yourself margin and time to date. Dating can be just as holy or good as serving.
Joy explained to me that the rhythm we see in scripture is one of rest. This is biblical, and the most obvious example is the Sabbath. We don’t have to go, go, go. Instead, we must “create space to create”.
What is your secret for living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman?
This is the question where Joy and I became kindred spirits, and she gave me permission to be a freak. Let me explain.
Joy told me that she walks through the cemetery everyday to help her keep life in perspective and help her remember the true meaning of life. I immediately asked her if she is a melancholic like myself. And yes, she is. This surprised me because if you’ve seen Joy’s videos online you would probably think she’s a sanguine. She’s enthusiastic and funny and full of energy. Um, I’m not any of those things. But even though she’s outgoing, she’s a melancholic. Then I shared that I, too, always think about how I wish I could just go and hang out in the cemetery. This is something I don’t tell anyone because of course they would think I’m a freak, and I don’t do it because I guess I’m afraid that it would make me a freak. But if Joy Eggerichs walks through the cemetery regularly, then I can, too. I now feel liberated to accept the peace I feel with cemeteries. If you don’t get any of this, then you’re not a melancholic.
Joy also answered my question this way. She said, “Singleness is easier [than marriage], but in ease I’m not being refined.” We talked about how Joy’s desire for marriage is not just for all the perks that marriage brings, but also for the refinement that can only come from difficulty, trials, and self-sacrifice.
What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now?
Joy gave advice that I admit I’ve never heard, but makes so much sense. She says to find both male and female older, wiser counsel. She says that even if marriage isn’t happening, you still need a male voice in your life. The more I think about this, I remember all the times I misinterpreted guys’ “signals” when I was single. I also remember the times I misinterpreted guys’ characters. An older male voice in my life would have been so helpful.
Now the fun stuff!
Favorite social media? Instagram
Favorite drink? Beer (IPA) and and Coffee (Americanos)
Beach or mountains for the rest of your life? Mountains
Fiction or nonfiction? Nonfiction
Introvert or extrovert? Introvert
What’s something quirky about you? Joy’s love for unicorns!
Joy Eggerichs is the Director of Love and Respect Now, serving her generation of 18-35 year olds with practical relationship insights she has learned from her parents, Dr. Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs, founders of Love and Respect Ministries. Through writing and speaking, Joy is bridging the gap between generations and helping her peers think about relationships now, as opposed to 20 years into marriage. In 2013 Joy released The Illumination Project—a 6-week DVD series filmed in front of a live audience of her peers, and serves as a unique mentoring tool for those who desire to share and seek wisdom in the areas faith, life, and relationships. Additionally, Joy will be publishing her first book in called, “Permanent Vertigo-How life and love cause us to question our own sanity and God’s goodness.” Joy is a graduate of Westmont College and currently resides in Portland, Oregon, surrounded by many young people who share her love of coffee, biking, and minimal hair washings.
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