Person of Influence- Meet HopefulGirl UK!
Our Person of Influence for this issue is HopefulGirlUK. Now you may be wondering…’huh? Is that a real person?’
Well, fear not. HopefulGirl is a real person, who just wants to remain anonymous. And she has good reason too- she is the author of a book detailing her experiences on the Christian dating scene, as well as the singles / dating columnist for Woman Alive magazine where she shares her real life diary navigating life as a 40-something single woman in the church. I came across HopefulGirl on Christian Connection, a Christian dating website we both frequently blog at. I am so excited to have her on this special edition.
Enjoy the interview!
Reach and Inspire: HopefulGirl, welcome to Reach and Inspire and thank you so much for agreeing to be featured on this edition of Reach and Inspire magazine. First of all, why the name ‘HopefulGirl’?
HopefulGirl: In my anonymous column in Woman Alive, following the ups and downs of my experiences of Christian internet dating, I gave the men names like PilotMan, TechiMan and ShyMan. Just before I sent the first column, I realised I ought to have a name myself! HopefulGirl summed up how I was going into this dating journey – and life in general – with hope and faith.
Reach and Inspire: You have chosen to do all your writing anonymously. Has anyone blown your cover yet?
HopefulGirl: Somehow, I’ve largely managed to keep my identity secret for 10 years – only a few friends know about my double life! It allows me to be more honest, and protects the men I write about – I don’t want to upset or shame anyone, even the awful ones! However, the mum of my unfaithful ex-fiancé put the clues together – whoops! So did the subsequent girlfriend of a chap I went on one date with – I met her at a Christian conference, we had a good laugh about it, then, I swore her to secrecy!
Reach and Inspire: Your book ‘Would Like To Meet’, is a dating diary about your experiences for four years on the Christian dating scene. I understand this is no longer in circulation but why did you decide to write this book and what would you say is the biggest lesson you learnt from your experiences as detailed in the book?
HopefulGirl: The book is currently out of print, but is still available direct from me (find me on Facebook @hopefulgirluk or email firstname.lastname@example.org), and also as an e:book (and second hand). I’d been writing the column for while when a publisher approached me about expanding it into a book, which I was thrilled to do. The biggest lesson from dating? Be as wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove (Matthew 10 v 16) – and always stay hopeful!
Reach and Inspire: To be able to garner enough stories for a book- you must have gone on tons of dates over the years! What was this like and what made you keep going even when none of these dates were leading anywhere?
HopefulGirl: I didn’t go on dates to fill a book – I wrote a book because I had so many brilliant stories that I just had to share! But it became a running joke – after a bad date, my brother would say, “Look on the bright side, HopefulGirl, that’s another chapter for your book!” Internet dating is a marathon, not a sprint – you usually have to meet lots of people before you find someone you click with. Meeting some lovely men (but who weren’t right for me) kept me hopeful enough to continue – although yes, I sometimes developed ‘dating fatigue’.
Reach and Inspire: I’m intrigued to find out- how do you decide the names for the people you write about in your articles? Does everyone you meet have something that makes them stand out to you? For example, CycleMan (whom I assume loves to cycle)?
HopefulGirl: Most people have one or two characteristics that lodge in your memory. But also, the names are helpful for giving readers an instant impression of who they’re reading about, and a hook to remember the characters by, otherwise they all blend into one. It didn’t always work – in the Dutch version of the book, CityMan was translated into UrbanMan – but actually it was a reference to him working in ‘The City’ (the financial district). I’m still friends with CycleMan, but he doesn’t know he’s in a book!
Reach and Inspire: You feel very passionate about the Church making more effort with single people (especially single women) and thinking about their daily struggles (I recall your article in Woman Alive about struggling with Mother’s Day). Why do you think single people so often get forgotten in the typical family church setting and what are some of the ways the Church can do better?
HopefulGirl: The church has become weirdly obsessed with marriage and the nuclear family – in contrast to the Biblical concept of ‘family’, which is much broader than ‘mum, dad and 2.4 kids’; and the New Testament, where Paul urges us to stay single for the gospel, if we can manage it! Single people are often invisible and ignored in the church. We need to work on seeing people as individuals, whatever their marital status, and bear that in mind when planning sermons, ministries, social events and hospitality.
Reach and Inspire: Thanks to my Sherlock Holmes-like detective skills I know that a relationship that looked like it was going somewhere didn’t ultimately work out. Are you still hopeful that you will one day meet Mr Wonderful?
HopefulGirl: I’m not actively looking for love – life is busy with responsibilities and family commitments, and I have found unexpected peace and contentment as a single Christian. But if Mr Wonderful happens to come along, I won’t turn him away! I still hope to meet someone at some point, but I don’t feel an urgency about it anymore.
Reach and Inspire: It’s that time of the year again- the month of ‘love’. What is your top tip for surviving the Valentine’s season as a single person?
HopefulGirl: Treat yourself well! Get together with friends, have a pamper session, do something you enjoy – give yourself other things to focus on. All the hearts and flowers are pretty contrived anyway, although I do like to treat myself to a cut-price bunch of flowers on 15 February!
Reach and Inspire: The theme for this issue is ‘Looking ahead- (attaining God’s vision for your life in 2020)’. What are you looking to see happen in your life this year? Do you have any particular dreams or goals you can share with us?
HopefulGirl: I’ve had some health challenges in the last year, so my focus for 2020 is, with God’s help, to get back to full strength, and finally write that follow-up book I’ve been promising for years! I also have other book ideas in development (under my real name), and I want to do some voluntary work in animal rescue. My wonderful rescue cats make appearances in the book and column as BossCat and ScaredyCat – even animals get pseudonyms in my stories!
Reach and Inspire: Lastly, what messages of hope can you share with any of our readers who may be feeling like a ‘happily ever after’ is never going to happen for them?
HopefulGirl: The truth is that not everyone will find a life partner, even with the help of Christian dating websites and events – but a lot of people do, and why shouldn’t it be you? I have quite a few friends in happy marriages who met online or at a Christian speed dating event. But even if you don’t… don’t be afraid of the future. We really can find deep happiness and contentment by living well as single Christians. So trust in Him, and stay hopeful!
We really enjoyed the interview with HopefulGirl and hope that you did too! You can connect with HopefulGirl on Facebook and Twitter (@HopefulGirlUK).