Swapping men for the Big Man
Updated: Sep 4
Naomi Shaw, 21, is no stranger to men, but last year she embarked on a ‘season of singleness’ and hasn't looked back since.
From 2015 to 2019, she had a different boyfriend for every year, but none of them ever lasted beyond the Christmas holidays which left her feeling lonelier than ever.
Naomi grew up in a Christian household and was free to make her own choices when it came to religion and relationships.
Taking full advantage of this freedom, she started to stray away from everything she believed as she entered the first year of university.
“I was a believer in abstinence before I went to university, no sex, no drugs but lots of rock and roll... but in first year I lost my virginity and done all sorts of things.”
She was once the young girl who attended church, helped at summer camps and went to Christian social events but soon she swapped this lifestyle for heavy partying and casual flings.
At the time she didn’t think anything of it as everyone else was doing the same, but she soon noticed it started to take a toll on her mental health. She thought the constant partying was a good escape for how she was feeling but it was actually making her feel worse.
Paired with this feeling, she had been absent from the church for four years. She was increasingly unhappy and nothing she tried had worked.
“I was really stressed out and had no direction in my life. I was struggling with motivation to get things done because I didn’t see the purpose in it.”
Eventually, she asked her mum to pray for her as a last-ditch attempt. Unsurprisingly, no miracles happened the next day. About a week later, the recently single Naomi had another tough day and was with her mum for a cuddle and cry.
Her mum told her that a friend had recently become a pastor and suggested Naomi visit this church. Initially, Naomi refused but then decided she had nothing left to lose and went for it.
Although she didn’t know it at the time, this became one of the most significant days in her life.
She wore ‘church-worthy’ clothes this particular Sunday and she sat at the back for a quick exit, but a stranger stopped her plans. He gently took her arm and told her that God wanted his children to come back. She was completely taken by surprise; this man knew nothing about her or what was going on in her life.
While she was standing in disbelief, the pastor recognised her and came over. Wanting a clean slate, Naomi listed all the bad things she had ever done, expecting a negative reaction.
“Once I finished, he said he’d been there too. Just knowing that someone who I really respected had been there too was really comforting.”
This pastor had seen all her failed relationships play out and he was the one to suggest the season of singleness. She agreed on the day but soon after leaving the building she was on consecutive Tinder dates trying to fill the void her most recent break up had left her.
Realising this was a distraction and that she needed to be serious about connecting with God, Naomi ultimately decided to cut out all dating from her life until she felt content on her own.
“I wanted to break the unhealthy pattern of needing a guy to be there because I needed somebody to complete me and look after me.”
When she told her friends about her plans, they were all quietly relieved as the past five years had not been shy of drama.
It hasn’t been easy though; she admits she has slipped up every so often, but her friends support her through this and encourage her to not give up. She now understands that it's just a part of life to make mistakes.
“I have learned in the last few years that everything has issues, there are going to be times when you’re in a relationship and you want out, but the way you build a lasting relationship is by working on it.”
A year later, Naomi feels complete on her own and isn’t in a rush to date anytime soon.
“I never ever thought I would be single for a whole year, but it has helped me grow closer to God. God’s not necessarily asking everybody to go through a season of singleness, but it was what I needed.”
This last year has given Naomi a lot of time to reflect on what she needs in a relationship. She looks to God for the comfort she once found in men and asks for guidance through prayer.
“Sometimes you want things that aren’t good for you and don’t make you happy so God will do his best to steer you away from those things.”
Although she has no problem with inter-faith relationships, from her track record, she knows it would not be healthy for her to date a non-Christian in the future. Whenever she dated a non-Christian, she wouldn’t go to church and she doesn’t want history repeating.
“Christians sometimes aren’t sure about their faith and they need somebody to pray with. I'd like to be in a relationship where I can have that and do that for somebody else.”
Naomi has found that she doesn’t need to be in a romantic relationship to find peace in life. As long as she has good relationships with her friends, family and a strong faith, she knows she will be just fine.