About 15 minutes and two cheese biscuits into my meal, I started looking around and felt a strange phenomenon. It appeared that everyone in the restaurant was looking at me. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time I had cocktail sauce on my face, but I checked and the napkin returned void of seafood condiments. Was this all in my head?
I’m not a self-conscious person, but this was starting to get to me. Is this what it feels like to be a Kardashian?
And then it hit me.
It was Valentine’s Day.
Rutherford uses humor to write about the adventures and challenges of being single in her thirties, and about her journey to build a family through adoption. She splits her time between New Jersey and Washington, DC, where she says she survived last January’s record-breaking blizzard by binge-watching three seasons of Downton Abbey.
1. I’ve followed your (mis)adventures in dating through your blog for a few years now. Your tagline is, “My valiant attempt to navigate life, faith and the thirty-something dating scene.” How would you describe your dating journey throughout your 20s and 30s? What are some of the highs and lows?
I’ve blogged about my dating journey for nearly five years now, so my highs and lows are forever documented on the Internet — every hilarious, depressing, embarrassing, romantic moment! The highs for me are times when I’ve learned to accept my value as a child of God, despite my relationship status. And the times I’ve met genuine, caring men in a dating pool that is far too often lacking such men. The lows for me are times when I’ve allowed myself to be emotionally affected by society’s depiction of what women should be. I’ve felt low when I’ve been “rejected” by men. But I’m learning, date by date, that the best highs are the ones defined by God. That helps me to refocus.
2. You recently wrote a blog post about your plans to adopt a sibling group from overseas. What led to this decision now, as a 30-something single woman?
I’ve always had a huge heart for orphans. I’ve worked in orphanages in several countries, and currently work full-time for an organization that helps needy children overseas. Psalm 82 challenges us to defend the fatherless, to uphold the cause of the oppressed. I want to love better, to love how Jesus loves. And looking into the eyes of a sweet, precious orphan makes that easy to do. My desire to adopt started when I was younger. And slowly, the desire grew and turned into what I believe is my calling. Once that happens, there’s no turning back. God’s call is too important to pass up. And the adventure is too exciting to deny it’s part of God’s plan.
3. Did your decision to adopt ever feel like you were giving up on your desire and hope for marriage? Do you ever worry that this is solidifying your single relationship status?
While I’ve always wanted to adopt, I kind of pictured doing it with a (tall, strong, handsome) husband by my side. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome was the fear of cementing my place as the “single aunt” or the “old cat lady” (sans cats; I’m allergic). We’ve all sketched out our life timelines: married by 25, house by 30, kids by 32. But what happens when those goals aren’t met and life keeps going? I still hope for marriage. But I’m not incomplete without it. I choose to live out my calling every day, and for now that calling is building a family through adoption. Tomorrow? Who knows? I’ve learned to not put God in a box.
4. The desire for marriage often means two extremes: making marriage the end-all, be-all in life and waiting for life to start when you say “I Do,” or pretending the desire doesn’t exist and becoming cynical and jaded. How do you handle these two extremes? And how does becoming a mom factor into this?
These two extremes make me sad. I’ve seen too many women let their entire life’s purpose hinge on one man. (News flash: He’s human. He will not be perfect, no matter how much you praise him on Facebook.) I’ve also seen too many women let bitterness take root because of failed relationships or a lack of love. They end up missing out on so much happiness. I try my best to stay away from either extreme, and that includes the extreme of counting all my worth in being a mom. It helps to keep a healthy balance of hope and reason, and a razor-sharp focus on my identity in Christ.
5. What’s your biggest fear about this adoption journey? What has God been teaching you through that?
My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to provide what my children need, particularly because I’m raising them on my own. If all my kids need is love, they’d be living large! But I read some mom blogs and found out children need other things like food, shelter, medicine, education, spiritual guidance, a male influence (which I hope will come from my church community, a plethora of loving uncles, and the world’s best grandpa), discipline . . . and don’t get me started on college tuition! I’m learning through the adoption process, God is already taking care of my family. I’m not doing this alone. Even more, I’m finding a real community in family, friends, and readers. I remind myself daily to “Be strong and courageous . . . for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).