Lisa Anderson is just barely an extrovert, and she grew up wanting to be a marine biologist. Nonetheless, she ended up being the host of The Boundless Show, a national radio show and podcast. She’s also the author of The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan for Pursuing Marriage with Purpose, which will be released in August 2015.
Lisa’s not known for holding back, so we sat down with her and asked her about things like how it feels to be stereotyped, her fears in writing her book, and dating advice she would give her 28-year-old self.
1. You’re in charge of Boundless, one of the largest ministries to Christian singles in the United States, and part of your expertise is based on your ongoing experience as a single person. Do you ever get tired of being so closely associated with your marital status?
Yes and no. I never aspired to become a “singles poster child,” and I certainly never thought I’d be single this long. It’s at times awkward to be sought after for advice on singleness or dating at every dinner party or social gathering I attend, but it is what it is. Because I’m pretty open about my single status and my desire for marriage, it’s brought out a tenderness in many who know my story. I get emails from Boundless fans each week who say that they pray for me every day — for a spouse, for my ministry with Boundless, for my health and safety — you name it. I wouldn’t trade that for the world; just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. Plus, had I gotten married years ago, I most likely would’ve never crossed paths with Boundless. What a huge loss that would’ve been!
2. You recently wrote a book called The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan to Pursuing Marriage. Did you battle any reoccurring fears as you wrote it?
The one thing I was determined that this book not be was another sad and tired tale from a bitter and defeated single woman with an axe to grind. No one wants to read that. Likewise, there were a few fears that putting my story in ink for all time and eternity would solidify my position as “the girl who is an expert on singleness.” Ick. But guess what. I am an expert on singleness. So I need to be OK with that. At the same time, this book is more than that. It’s full of stories, advice, humor and hope. An entire chapter is devoted to what rocks about being single. Another chapter details God’s sovereignty over every aspect of our individual stories. Yet another chapter talks to people who aren’t single, but want to understand singles. There’s something for everyone.
3. On The Boundless Show, in your writing, and in person, you come across as incredibly confident. What advice do you have for men who are intimidated by confident women?
There are really only two reasons I’m confident: My salvation is secure, and I know I’m loved. The good news is both of these assurances are available to everyone, so it levels the playing field. Any other reason I appear confident is just personality and other lesser stuff. Our negative reactions toward others are usually a reflection of our own insecurities, so men who are “intimidated” by confident women need to examine why that is so. Dating the helpless and needy Damsel in Distress is appealing for only so long; she may initially make you feel strong and important, but eventually you’ll just feel smothered and used. Become secure in who you are, and you’ll be attracted to (and will attract) women who are also healthy and secure. That said, a word for the ladies: Being confident doesn’t mean being a rude, brash, belittling femi-Nazi. Nor does it mean taking everything on yourself and acting like you rule the world. Show that you need men, that men have value, and you’ll prove yourself inviting and attractive.
4. If you could have two minutes to go back in time and say anything to your 28-year-old self about dating, what would you say?
I’d say, “Dating takes effort for both men and women.” Dating was hardly on my radar in my 20s. I was too busy chasing a career and thinking I was too awesome to need a man. I didn’t make the effort to get to know men. I don’t remember ever saying I wanted to be married. I turned dates down because I found some miniscule flaw in the guys in question. And then I wondered why I was still single at 30. God puts people in our path for a reason. Many of them are probably good marriage candidates. But when we give all our attention elsewhere, we cheat ourselves out of a healthy pursuit of what is for most of us a God-given life goal. Marriage is a good thing, and biblical, intentional dating is a great way to get there. But it takes work. And that work should start earlier rather than later. Learn from my mistakes on that one, folks.
5. Boundless has a big conference for young adults coming up in July called Pursuit. Pursuit 2014 ended up being a big success, and I’m sure that Pursuit 2015 will be as well. But there are a number of people who think about a conference like this and panic at the idea of being in a room with several hundred strangers. Any advice for those folks?
Fears like that are borne out of not knowing what to expect. So I’ll tell you what you can expect. Going to Pursuit 2015 isn’t like going to junior high camp where everyone’s clamoring to be noticed by the cool kids while the awkward kids with braces and hand-me-down clothing sit on the sidelines. Boundless.org breeds quality, mature people. Those people come to Pursuit. The folks I met last year were warm, attentive, inclusive, kind, eager to learn, willing to reach out, and ready to be challenged and changed. You won’t be in a room full of strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet. I know I sound like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in saying that, but it’s true. You have to decide if the investment of your time, energy and money is worth it to meet solid Christians in the same stage of life as you. For the vast majority of last year’s attendees, extroverts and introverts alike, the answer was “yes.” I strongly encourage anyone who’s even remotely considering coming this year to take the plunge. You won’t regret it.