Recently a follower on my personal Twitter page (@MissMandyHale) asked me what I consider to be a great question. She asked “Do you think it’s important to date someone of the same faith? Is a Christian man a must?” And I answered in the only way I know how to answer, which is honestly, and replied: “For me, it is essential that the man I ultimately marry shares my faith/beliefs, because that’s the foundation for everything else.” (Key words: For ME.) I didn’t say “This is how it SHOULD be done,” or “This is how it HAS to be done,” or “My way is right and your way is wrong.” Still, this didn’t sit well with someone, who, with a series of tweets, went from argumentative to insulting, calling my very character into question and implying that my answering that question honestly was somehow wrong, miseducating for my followers, being irresponsible with my influence, and alienating my followers that come from varying religious backgrounds. I take all this to mean that this person believes that I should have (I guess?) lied in my response to the follower’s question and denied my faith in order to water down my message and make it more pleasing to the crowd.
I’m pretty transparent about my faith. I don’t deny it, hide it, or try and make it a huge secret. I am a Christian, I love God, I am humbled on a daily basis by the miraculous things He’s doing in my life, and while I'm clearly not perfect, I couldn’t deny God to keep from ruffling someone’s feathers if my life depended on it.
After all, I thought we were supposed to live by the creed: “You’re going to ruffle some feathers if you wanna fly!” Right?
While I don’t deny my faith, I also don’t shove it down anyone’s throat. I respect your right to practice whatever religion that you choose. I have a reverence for all religions and truly find comfort in the teachings of all religious figures – from Buddha to Jesus to the Dalai Lama to Mohammed. I will never judge you, condemn you, look down on you, or act superior to you because you don’t subscribe to the same religious views as I. Intolerance is an ugly thing, and not a part of my vocabulary or my mindset.
I do hope you believe in a higher power…whichever one you choose.
To believe in something bigger than you is to believe in miracles. To believe that anything is possible. To have somewhere to turn in times of great sorrow for guidance, and somewhere to look to in times of great joy for thanksgiving. It is a declaration of your faith in not just a Creator but all of creation…and a declaration of faith in YOURSELF. It is a life-changing, healing, sometimes scary and unexpected and uncertain journey…but one that will propel you to heights you never thought possible.
I commend you and applaud you and congratulate you if you are brave enough to believe…but I still love you and respect you and accept you for who you are if you don’t.
To teach and encourage and talk authenticity and live anything less than authentically is not something I can do. So when someone asks me a question about my faith, they’re not going to get the most popular answer, or the most warm and fuzzy answer, but an honest answer.
I can’t deny God to anyone. God is the reason I am able to do what I do. God pours His inspiration into me on a daily basis. God took what I once viewed as my biggest, most embarrassing flaw – being romantically challenged – and turned it into something beautiful. If that offends you or ticks you off or makes you want to scream at me or unfollow me or tell me I’m stupid, please feel free to do or feel any of the above. That is your human right to feel however you want to feel. But for me to answer a question about my faith ambiguously or less than honestly, on my personal Twitter page, because someone might not like or agree with my answer is not something I can do. It goes against everything I encourage you guys to do, which is to live fearlessly and unapologetically, as YOU, the whole YOU, and nothing but YOU. For me to deny God or downplay my faith or be dishonest about something so as not to offend anyone would be to deny The Single Woman message. And I can’t do that. I won’t do that. I can’t be anything but me…Mandy…faith and all…flaws and all…and speak to you guys from the very bottom of my heart and through my eyes…sometimes imperfectly but as authentically as I know how. Part of that is taking the risk that you won’t always like what I have to say. Part of that is taking the risk that I’ll step on some toes. And part of that is taking the risk that you’ll unfollow me.
But I don’t think you guys are the kind of people to turn away from someone just because they don’t happen to share your religious beliefs. I choose to give you more credit than that. I see your big, beautiful hearts and I read your emails about your brave, bold journeys as single women and I think that the reason you guys connect with me and my message as intensely as you do is because you sense that I see past all the labels, all the stereotypes, all the red tape…to the heart of you who are as human beings. And whoever you choose to worship, or not worship…I love you anyway. I respect you. But I can’t stop being honest with you because you happen to not agree with what I say. I would be doing you, and me, a disservice.
If it wasn’t for God’s presence in my life, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today. I would have no words of inspiration for you. I would likely still be trapped in a miserable, toxic, abusive relationship – because God’s strength is what pulled me out of that situation and placed my feet in The Single Woman’s stilettos.
So anytime I get a chance to give Him a little shoutout, I’m going to do so.
I’ll do me, you do you, and we’ll cross paths on this crazy highway of Twitter and agree to honor each other’s similarities while respecting each other’s differences.
Sound good? J