As a late twenty-something single Christian, I often receive comments about how much I ‘travel’. Usually it’s the “you’re always travelling somewhere, where are you off to next?’ or ‘you’re never in the country, are you still in Canada?”.
There are two points I would like to make clear here. Firstly, I moved back to the UK from Canada in late 2011, I still receive these comments in 2015. Secondly, my trips are never more than two weeks long, which in my mind does not constitute ‘travelling’. Travelling to me looks like spending six months exploring the troves of South America’s glorious treasures, or getting down and dirty for three months helping at an orphanage project in India, or using a Euro Rail pass to delve into the history of the vast expanses of Europe.
But the one that I find the most peculiar is the “How are you going to settle down/you’ll never find a husband, if you’re always travelling?” This particular comment not only intrigues me, but also concerns me. Is this the world view Christians have? If so, there are three major issues with this I would like to draw our attention to.
1. Sitting in my house will bring me a husband
For the last four years, I have been firmly rooted in the UK. I have been working and building my career, completing my MA, spending quality time with friends and family, eating out and growing my love for sweet, fruity cocktails (yes, with alcohol, don’t judge me). I have grown and I have made mistakes. I have loved and I have lost. I also happen to have been on a few holidays. I maximise my annual leave from work by ensuring all of my 25 days (generous I know) are spent out of the country. I could take a few days off and sit in my house, but I chose not to. I choose to visit friends in beautiful countries I have never been to, expanding my understanding of the world. I choose to see the beauty and the struggles of living outside of Europe. I made new friends and deepened existing bonds. Most powerfully, I experienced being overwhelmed by the love and generosity extended to me by families that have far less than I do. If I had stayed at home all those times, would I have been any more likely to find a husband? I seriously doubt it.
2. Travelling makes me undesirable to a husband
One friend even suggested that my travelling may be threatening to a man that may be interested in me. This confused me! All I have to say on this point is that, if this threatens a guy, he is not the guy for me. My desire is to be with someone that would love to travel as much as I do. Obviously the constraints of a mortgage and kids will mean travelling will have to be sacrificed, but come on, I am sure we can squeeze in one (or two) trips a year as a family! Also, travelling gives you something interesting to talk about. Whilst London is an amazing city I personally would rather hear about the interesting, unique places you have visited in Seoul or Canberra than Shoreditch or Chelsea.
3. God is limited by my travel plans
The idea that my travelling could hinder God’s plan for my life is the completely the wrong view. God is all-powerful, all-knowing and completely in control of my life. I acknowledge him in all my ways and trust that He will bring a husband along at the right time. Perhaps God has not seen fit over the last few years to have a husband find me. I know this is likely to be true because I have learnt some important lessons and would simply not have been ready to serve a husband in a way that would be honouring. It is for my good that I am not married and in God’s perfect timing, if it is His will, I will have my day of joy (with a handsome, travel-loving bae too!).
So why do I believe Christians should cultivate the passion to travel more?
4. We can become too comfortable in our local community; travelling brings us out of comfort zones
Whilst I love my local church, it is a source of comfort. I know all the faces, am used to the service structure and like the worship songs. But travelling challenges me to push my boundaries of both what I think and physically what I can do. A recent trip to Colombia forced me to rely on God for safety and wisdom. Bogota is not like London where you can (mostly) confidently walk the streets after dark. I had to dress in a way that did not draw attention to myself and ensure I was back at the hotel by a decent hour. I didn’t dare walk around by myself either. Whilst it was uncomfortable at first, I realised that sometimes it’s not about avoiding ‘dangerous’ places, as there is beauty to be found everywhere, but more importantly it’s about applying wisdom while in a foreign place. Also during my time in Colombia, I was challenged with a beautiful but difficult hike through one of their most stunning national parks, Tyrona. I was not expecting both the physical and mental challenge of the hike and learnt that being pushed to my physical capabilities caused me to need to rely on God for patience, perseverance and joy. If I had not been on that walk, I would not have seen monkeys climbing the trees above my head or experienced the sound of the beautiful sea before sunset. Being out of your comfort zone forces you to rely on God and singleness is a perfect time to practice trusting Him for everything.
5. Travelling helps bring a new perspective
A mission trip to Copenhagen’s most notorious commune, Christiana, helped me see that even in a place that is not necessarily known for godliness, God is at work. We went to strengthen a church which was planted in the heart of the commune; reaching out to those who did not know God and who may have even hated him. However, they were open to hearing the gospel and spoke to us with kindness and warmth. This completely changed my world view. We cannot make a judgement on people based on how we see them living. Sometimes what they need is to hear the gospel, experience the hope it brings and receive support to change their lives. I met some extremely interesting people there, and had I not been there to experience it first hand, it would have been easy to judge as an outside observer.
6. We need to grow; travelling helps us learn new things
From a practical point, travelling has matured me. I spent 18 months living in Canada, away from family and friends and whilst it was probably one of the most amazing seasons of my life, it had severely low points. I missed my family at Christmas. I missed birthdays and deaths. I missed my church and I missed jollof rice! But God provided new friends and family who loved me exactly as I was. I learnt He is kind to us all the time. He also provided me with so many learning opportunities. I learnt from my mentor and manager how to be organised and diligent, how to be creative, the importance of excellence, how to be vulnerable and patient, how to speak up for what I believe and when to stay quiet. He connected me to this amazing woman who loves the Lord and His word and she welcomed me into her home. He also provided me with wonderful friends who I was able to create lifelong memories with; many of whom I have visited in their various hometowns around the world such as Buga (in Colombia), Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Cardiff. I also learnt how to host friends when they came to visit me. I learnt how to be an independent traveller. Many people have admitted to me that they have never taken a flight on their own. My challenge to them is, you should! As a single Christian, this season is the perfect time to learn something new about yourself and push your boundaries. So go ahead, book a flight to visit a friend. It’s one of the best ways to travel and usually includes free accommodation!
As single Christians, we need to remember that this season is a blessing (although many of us feel like it is a curse). We need to be grateful for the freedom we have to explore, grow, and challenge ourselves with little or no responsibilities. Your resources, such as time and money, are your own and not answering to a partner about the flight you just booked has its benefits! We also need to trust that God will bring all things to us at the right times. Travelling by no means hinders God’s ability to have me meet my husband, especially as that’s not my only purpose, and in fact, may even open me up to meeting him somewhere along the way… at least I’ll have something interesting to talk about on our first date!
If you are interested in travelling more, check out the below links for some inspiration!
The Wind Collective – A socially conscious community of creative explorers, expressing faith and freedom through travel – https://www.instagram.com/windcollective/
Travel is the new club – Just a young single urban professional that throws group trips and realised the clubs have gotten boring. Time to upgrade fun – https://www.instagram.com/travelisthenewclub/
Shenomads – Diverse community of women sharing their journeys across the globe. Never stop exploring- https://www.instagram.com/shenomads/