Senior Hannah Hensley recaps her day to her good friend Jana Roste. Roste used to lead freshman Shift with Roste and the two have a close relationship. “I would describe myself as a joyful friend… someone who is very passionate about what I believe in and I am passionate about other people and learning their stories,” Hensley said when asked to talk about herself in a few sentences. | Photo by Sierra Smith.

The gift of singleness

Senior at Bethel University, Hannah Hensley, talks about the ups and downs of singleness.

Sierra Smith
Dec 10, 2018 · 8 min read

By Sierra Smith | Clarion Correspondent

Senior Hannah Hensley’s host brother, Carlos, stared at her in shock.

“It’s true, I have several friends who have gotten married right out of college, being just 21 or 22,” she said. She had asked him about the dating and marriage culture among young people in Spain.

“I would never even think about getting into a serious relationship until I am at least in my late 20’s, maybe 30!” Carlos said.

The sentiment was surprising to her at first, but when she thought about it it made sense. While studying abroad in Spain for three months, the pressure of dating and the assumptions being made about her had disappeared.

“It seemed so normal because people here [at Bethel] told us it was normal,” Hensley said.

She thought back to her sophomore year at Bethel University and what a tough spot she had been in. Walking through the crowded Brushaber Commons felt more lonely than ever. It was like starting freshman year all over again as she watched each of her friends from the previous year begin to enter relationships and slip away as they spent less and less time together. At times Hensley was ashamed of her singleness. She walked around campus wondering why no guy looked at her the same way she saw them looking at her friends. On the outside she was holding it together. Internally she was in disarray.

The summer after her junior year had been a huge growing time for Hensley while she worked at the Christian summer camp Kanakuk K-7 in Lampe, Missouri. Over the course of the summer she had an accountability partner who she met with formally every week. They would go through and talk about the tough questions that came up in everyday life. The obstacle she kept tripping over was thought life. It would have been easy to tell her accountability partner that everything in her thought life was all good and that she was always good at stopping herself before going down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts. Saying that she could always pick out the lies and replace them with God’s truth would have been both lying and counterproductive.

Senior at Bethel University, Hannah Hensley laughs with her friends at their last winter gala at Bethel. | Photo by Sierra Smith

“It’s one thing to read scripture and to have all these truths coming in. But if negative thoughts are running rampant then the heart is still in the same spot it was,” Hensley said.

She described the long process it took to begin to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones. And how she often felt convicted of comparing herself to girls or wishing guys would like her.

“To vocalize all of that makes it so real but it also takes away it’s power instantly. And that was such an enlightening thing.” Hensley said.

Hensley was excited to take her summer of growth and to come back to Bethel and try it out for real.

Her views and attitude on singleness have changed a lot even as she transitioned back into Bethel. However, even though she’s grown to be content in her singleness, there are times that she still struggles. The question, “What are you doing after you graduate?” has become a dreaded one. Not because she doesn’t have a job lined up or money saved in her bank account, but because it leads to the next question. “Did you find that special someone at Bethel?” Hensley laughed nervously. As if she didn’t already feel that pressure enough from herself. She had resigned herself to ending up alone and dying in a hole somewhere.

“Those attacks on your identity and who you are just crack the foundation. Then it’s hard. Nothing can be built on a cracked foundation. Which is so hard because those lies [said] repeatedly can sound believable.” — Hannah Hensley

The next minute she would snap out of it to realize that her thought patterns were back to square one. The lie came in thinking that dating was the only option. Something in the Bethel air had this pressure around it, whether intentional or not.

“Those attacks on your identity and who you are just crack the foundation. Then it’s hard. Nothing can be built on a cracked foundation. Which is so hard because those lies [said] repeatedly can sound believable,” Hensley said.

Becoming content in who she is in the eyes of God has been a long and hard process. One that is ongoing still today. But it’s a battle that she has been particularly inspired to fight and she has such a passion for sharing her inspirations with others.

“Again, it’s seeing myself as God already sees me. And that’s something I’ve even been learning this year is like God, God desires me. You know, I don’t have to look to a guy for that because the God of the universe gets butterflies in his stomach when I walk in a room, and his eyes light up,” she said.

“I think that a lot of times people who are single are not content where they are and are jealous of others, but she just takes the time and place that God has put her in and still encourages others on which is really cool.” — Jana Roste

All of that goes to say, she is content in who she is. She also partners so well with her friends who are in all different stages of life. Her friend and former softball teammate Jana Roste comments on this aspect of Hannah.

“[I think of] her genuine happiness for others in a relationship. The other day I was on the bus with her when she saw on facebook that Tina Hoppe was engaged. She was so genuinely happy… I think that a lot of times people who are single are not content where they are and are jealous of others, but she just takes the time and place that God has put her in and still encourages others on which is really cool.” Roste said.

Senior Hannah Hensley talks about her passion for seeking God and seeing the gifts she has received through singleness. She remembers a time when she felt ashamed by not having guys talk to her like they did other girls. “All of those romantic things that I used to feel self conscious that a boy wasn’t doing that for me, it just like rocked my world to know that I am that loved and more by God,” Hensley said. | Photo by Sierra Smith.

She chooses to see the gifts that come to her in the season that she is in, but to walk alongside her friends who are single, dating, engaged, and married.

“It’s been really neat to see Godly friends pursue Godly relationships lead to Godly marriages and to have that example, but also to have Godly single friends too,” she said.

She embraces that each of those relationships will look different than the other. She also wants to use her experiences to encourage those who are struggling with singleness and show them, particularly women, that they are full and complete no matter what their relationship status is. Having a significant other does not change the worth, identity or purpose that they have in God.

Someday Hensley does hope to find someone to partner with her in her journey to seek the Lord and glorify Him, but she’s not so worried about it for now. Roste said she is in awe of her friend in this area.

“She has such a healthy balance between wanting a relationship and thriving in her singleness. There have been times that she has just stopped and said ‘Jana, I want a boyfriend.’ So even though she does want to be in a relationship when it is right, I have never heard her been upset or confused or questioning God about why it hasn’t happened.”

She knows it’s harder said than done, but she has peace about the time and opportunities that she will have in the future.

“It’s one of those things where yes, that is awesome. I would love to be a part of a team like that. Some awesome super team that just gets to love the heck out of people. Love Jesus, and just bring him glory. I would love that. But if that isn’t right now, that’s OK. And that doesn’t change my purpose. That doesn’t change what God has for me.” Hensley said.

Bio box: Facts about Hannah Hensley

  • 21 years old, birthday May 26
  • Senior social studies education and Spanish education major
  • Studied abroad in Spain
  • Loves coffee
  • Works in Central Issue
  • Works in Admissions
  • Spanish and history TA
  • Involved in Student Ministries
  • Leader at Mounds View high school Younglife

Quote collection: Quotes from Hannah Hensley

  • “I don’t know if it’s even about me or my intention of like I am purposely doing this, I am whatever. Because that’s not the point. The point isn’t me choosing. It’s me glorifying Jesus and me wanting Him more that I want to be filled by a boy.”
  • “If first I am a child of God, then I am solidified.”
  • “I’m full, you know, I don’t need to fill myself with other things and so that changes everything.”
  • “In a season of waiting per say, that doesn’t mean stagnant and that doesn’t mean static. God is still faithful and he’s still bringing things, he’s still active, he’s still moving. There are still gifts in that season that may only be in that season.”
  • “Like Paul writes in Corinthians, a singleness time is undistracted devotion to God. And that is awesome.”
  • “I don’t know if it’s even about me or my intention of like I am purposely doing this, I am whatever. Because that’s not the point. The point isn’t me choosing. It’s me glorifying Jesus and me wanting Him more that I want to be filled by a boy.”
  • “To see God intimately like that, to know that he wants me intimately like that. Like to know that if I was in a crowd he would search me out.”
  • “All of those romantic things that I used to feel self conscious that a boy wasn’t doing that for me, it just like rocked my world to know that I am that loved and more by God.”

ROYAL REPORT

Hyperlocal news about Bethel (Minn.) University by journalism students. To contact editors, email royalreport.bethel@gmail.com or Tweet to @Royal_Report.

Sierra Smith

Written by

ROYAL REPORT

Hyperlocal news about Bethel (Minn.) University by journalism students. To contact editors, email royalreport.bethel@gmail.com or Tweet to @Royal_Report.

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