Shayla Ortiz started her “Spiritually Single” blog to process the pain of being married to a man who wasn’t a believer at the time. That is, she saw herself as “spiritually single” because her husband wasn’t joining her in her walk with Jesus. She had no idea it would turn into an international ministry.
She says that initially, “I’d type through the tears, the doubts and the fear, hoping my words would somehow help other spiritually single women.” Eventually though, she says, “I was no longer just writing about my personal experiences, I was also encouraging.”
The blog began to take off, and eventually, her Facebook page exploded with fans, which opened the door to new opportunities. Her readership almost immediately grew from married women in their 40s to young single women. She says that “young girls all around the world started sharing my posts and asking for advice, prayer and encouragement. So what started as an ‘unequally yoked’ support blog has now become a Christian singles ministry. God seriously works in mysterious ways.”
After learning about Shayla’s ministry, I thought it would be interesting to hear her thoughts on singleness, marriage and dating. Here’s what she had to say in a five-question interview for Boundless:
1. How could churches improve in the way they minister to people who aren’t married?
When ministering to singles you can’t paint with broad strokes. I think churches are faced with a dilemma of ministering to people who are single but never married versus single divorcees. Both groups have very different needs. You simply cannot group “young never been married singles” and “been there done that singles.” I think acknowledging the differences and addressing them is key in equipping singles for a fruitful marriage.
2. What are the top three issues single women write to you about?
Wow, where do I begin? I get emails from women all around the world. Cultures and languages may differ, but this question seems to perplex them all: “How do I know if he’s the one?” When women ask me this question, they’re disappointed when my answer lacks luster and is not a formula to follow or a fool-proof list leading them to a definitive answer. My advice? Pray and use what I like to call “God sense.” Pray and ask God for direction and revelation. Through the process, stay focused and connected with the Lord to hear His voice and direction. Next, use “God sense.” He’s a Christian but is verbally abusive? Pray for him and run.
Another frequently asked question is, “I’m dating an unbeliever. Should I leave him?” In this scenario, I always quote 2 Corinthians 6:14. I think as women we believe we possess the power to change a man and that somehow marriage will fix our differences. There are testimonies of women falling in love with unbelievers, and in time they become faithful, godly men. But the reality is that these stories are few and far between. The chances of you living in an unequally yoked relationship are way higher than your unbelieving husband coming to the Lord. Of course, there is nothing impossible for God, but the Bible is clear, “Do not be unequally yoked.”
The third big question is, “What if God’s plan is for me to be single forever?” For many singles approaching their 40s, this is daunting because God wired us for intimacy, love and companionship. Telling someone to conform and be content is easier said than done. My advice is to pray. Be honest and vent with God, tell Him your desires, and don’t hold back. God’s plan for you does not have a time frame or an expiration date.
3. Your husband wasn’t a Christian when you married him, and part of your ministry is encouraging women not to do that. How does your husband feel about you essentially telling women that you shouldn’t have married him?
When people learn that I married an unbeliever, the follow-up question is always the same: “How does he feel about your ministry?” When we met, I was the pastor’s daughter, and knowing that, he played the part of a Christian guy. Anyway, to make a long story short, I fell for it. Once we got married, the truth came out. Now, after 16 years of marriage, he’s come to realize the importance of being equally yoked. Marriage is hard as it is — adding opposing moral and spiritual views to the mix makes it even harder; so he’s supportive and understands my passion for helping others avoid the same pitfalls.
4. I have some friends who say that it would be nice if they could marry a Christian, but the only guys who even ask them out are agnostics. Would you advise just going out for a little missionary dating?
I would advise against it. You can share the Gospel and pray for a person’s salvation, but avoid blurring any lines. Waiting on God is not easy, but the cost of being in an unequally yoked marriage is far too high.
5. How much has your relationship with your dad played a role in some of the difficulties you’ve had in being healthy in your relationships with men?
In retrospect, it played a huge role. My dad was not a very expressive man. I knew he loved me, but he never verbalized it. I remember the first time a guy told me he loved me. The intense rush of emotions I felt was overwhelming. It later became something I needed to hear, making me needy and clingy. As I grew in the Lord, I learned I could attain the love I craved from Him and Him alone.
Copyright 2015 Joshua Rogers. All rights reserved.