I had a chance to "meet" Narelle through this blog. I've enjoyed getting to "know" her through her website and through e-mails. I asked her to complete the interview that Sarah Barlow and Rebekah Hall did. I do hope that you've been encouraged by these interviews of these wonderful single women!
Narelle comes to us all that way from New Zealand!
Name: Narelle Worboys
Occupation: Publisher, novelist, musician, fashion columnist and founder of Boutique Narelle [www.boutiquenarelle.blogspot.com], housekeeper /secretary/computer technician to my parents, freelance distributor of million $ note tracts, long-distance aunty, media studies, Operation Christmas Child regional co-coordinator with my Dad.
Share with us about these years of being single, what are you doing to fully enjoy them, to relish this season?
I love everything I’m doing! It amazes me that these endeavours, or the skills to do these endeavours, were barely visible in my teen years. I know so many teens vibrating with talent and purpose and I’ve watched them churn away into a world of productivity, but I wasn’t like that. I’m a slow burner. It took a while for the fires to get really going. I’m okay with that, because I can see how the Lord has steadily led me in His paths, preparing me for His purpose. How long it takes is in His hands, and I trust those Hands.
When did you make this commitment to remain emotionally pure for your husband?
I'm coming up 32, happy, heart-whole thanks to the Lord's tender mercies, and healthy in spirit if not in body.
Homeschooled, raised to be a wife and mother, I expected to marry as soon as I finished school, but our family never talked about how that should come about, the process of match-making. Having only a vague sense of the courtship model, I reached my 19th birthday in shock that I was still in limbo. I followed an employment track laid out by my father in his business of running an education service, happy to do his bidding but I had no personal vision, no physical direction, no guidance for my very active emotional and thought life.
Any business, social, or mission activities were dramatically cut off in my 20th summer by a sudden descent into what became a chronic illness. My friends describe me as bubbly and to most people outside my family (the few who actually see me) I look perfectly normal, but I'm quite a sick girl.
Somewhere around 1997, homeschooling friends introduced us to the newly published “Romance God’s Way” by Eric and Leslie Ludy (they were in NZ on the previous day and we hadn’t known it!). I avidly consumed this and the other materials in their early collection (I watched the seminar video so many times), and a little while later Joshua Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” followed. I welcomed what these taught, sharing them enthusiastically with my friends but never having a down-to-basics conversation with my parents about the personal application to our family.
A few years prior to this, I embarked on a long-distance friendship with a guy who shared my love of music, writing, and laughter. I saw him about once every 12-18 months, and from the start I was grateful he was 3 years younger than I, removing the pressure of possible romance.
I knew we were under scrutiny and I was determined for our relationship to be a positive testimony. But a friendship can’t be orchestrated. Like the spirit of a man, you cannot see it or take hold of it and order it to your will. I was writing fiction (a collection titled “When Waiting”) expressing the challenges of living with a Romance God’s Way outlook, but I couldn’t resolve my own story.
My mother and my aunt both expressed to me their opinion that platonic relationships never work and that I would be wise to separate myself from him. I told myself they thought that because their background was in dating. I was sure there was a Christ-honouring way for guys and girls to be friends without being romantic, but my own guy/girl friendship was turning sour as we slowly drifted apart.
I fought it, doing everything I knew to preserve it and my integrity at the same time. I was greedy – I wanted more, and I wanted our friendship the way it used to be. I didn't want him for a husband, but I cared very deeply for him. He'd been my closest friend, often my only friend, for more than a decade. The Lord made it clear to me that I needed to sever the relationship, but I didn't understand why.
I obeyed, and it was the hardest thing I've had to do next to holding my dog while she was put down. It felt like my friend had died, too, as though I'd attended his funeral, and yet I didn't have closure, because the 'deathbed' scene hadn't been scripted carefully enough and I made a mess of it. I grieved for nearly two years, fighting against the urge to contact him, to hear news of him (complicated by not having a friend to fill his place and the fact I was going through a Job's Testing with all the other things I most loved in life). And yet, oddly, I also felt a wonderful release, an invigorating freedom to let go of the past and get on with my life. I did wild things like cut my hair, curl my lashes, and start singing solo in public. I thank the Lord for introducing me to several girls with whom I correspond. I treasure the friendship they offer me.
"Emotional Purity" was brought to my attention in the southern spring of 2007 (heartfelt gratitude to Genevieve Smith for this!), and I think it's fair to say it was the most welcome and refreshing book I've ever read. I gasped with relief, I laughed for joy at the truths expressed, I cried for all the pain I'd gone through in my ignorance. I wished someone had shared it with me sooner. Years sooner.
Knowing myself, that I love quickly and deeply, in the severest sense I should not engage in any girl/guy friendship, and I'm hugely wary of that now, but his faithful friendship was a joy and stimulation in my quiet, difficult existence during a period when any friends I'd made as a teenager disappeared into thin air or their own busy work and social lives. My health moated me in an isolated castle, and to be without friends entirely...well, I can't say it was wrong for me to be friends with him. I do think that my family and I were ill-equipped for conducting such a friendship. Though sincere, I was naive and unprotected.
In the past couple of years the Lord has blessed me with improved health (some of the time!) and a host of activities into which I can pour my attention. After reading Heather's book, I started on “So Much More - the Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God” by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, which has worked further miracles of understanding, passion and vision, and contentment. My social life, outside of my family, is almost non-existent, but somehow the Lord has enabled me to be happy despite this. I can't say how I'd handle another bout of Job's Devastation, and I can’t figure out how when I was trying so hard I could have got something so wrong, but I know that stubborn faith does see us through and that the Lord is entirely faithful and worthy of my trust and adoration. That is enough.