These 8 Scriptures Are Spiritual Game-Changers For Single Women
Back around the turn of the century, I used to date a Muslim (if you can call it that; it was actually more like I used to have sex with a bestie). I could write an entire book on the lessons that I learned from that experience, both good and horrifying. On the silver lining tip, something that I appreciate is that he introduced me to a collection of sayings from Muhammed known as hadith. As far as other spiritual content goes, I make it no secret that some of my absolute favorite proverbs are Buddhist ones; in fact, one of my all-time favorite parables is a popular one in the Buddhist faith (you can check it out here). Yet out of all of the spiritual books and readings that I have come across, I firmly and unapologetically prefer the Bible over them all.
There is something about that book, in particular, that is both timeless and multi-dimensional. I say that because, I don't know about you, but I can read one verse on Monday, come back to that very same one on Wednesday, and it will speak to me totally differently. Plus, books like Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are chalked with so much common sense that if most of us heeded those two alone, there's no telling how much the quality of our lives would improve. Yeah, the Bible is dope. Extremely so.
At the same time, I must say that I didn't really see the Good Book as a great single woman's manual until I started learning Hebrew (Christ was a Jew so, why not?) and really studying the Word for myself (2 Timothy 2:15—AMPC). Once that happened, can't nobody tell me that the holy Scriptures aren't true lifesavers!
If you're a single woman and bible reader, but you've been having a difficult time finding how to merge the two in a truly powerful and applicable way, I'll share with you some of the verses that have made me feel like God truly gets me—even, and some ways especially, as a single woman.
1. "So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man."---Genesis 2:21-22 (NLT)
Some people are gonna want to give pushback on this and that's fine. But personally, I've never been big on it being a requirement that men pursue women. It also makes me cringe whenever I hear that it should be expected because "men are hunters" (I'm not a deer in the woods; I am a daughter of the Most High). Am I saying that men shouldn't be chivalrous? Of course, they should be. But the whole chase a woman down thing? I mean, if I am a gift from God, why does a man have to kill himself to have me? Gifts are less taxing than that. Besides the whole "He who findeth a wife" back-up take (Proverbs 18:22)? Look up the definitions of find one day. They are pretty enlightening.
Anyway, when I decided to ask God to show me how he desires relationships to go, I "took a stroll" through the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:22 is a total game-changer. Adam did not pursue his wife. In fact, he didn't even decide when it was time to be with her. GOD DID. While God was creating who was a perfect complement for Adam, ole' boy was asleep the entire time. Then, when God was done, he brought the Woman to Adam. Some translations use the word "presented".
This is dope on a few levels. One, because for the Woman (Eve's name in the Garden) to be brought, it gives me the impression that she had to have had her own time to God before being in Adam's life. Two, since God did all of the work, Adam couldn't insert his ego into the situation. He didn't "acquire" his wife; she was a gift given to him. She was all God's doing. Besides, Adam was a gardener, not a hunter. Gardeners cultivate, just as all good husbands should. See why I think Genesis 2:22 is so on point?
2. "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well."---Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV)
This verse right here shows that God doesn't become a part of our lives the day we are born. From this, it looks like he's totally invested and involved from the moment of conception (an article all on its own). Yet the reason why these verses make the list is because it's a reminder that one of the best ways to honor God is through praise. And while we're in the process of thanking him for thinks like food, water, shelter, family and friends, we should also thank him for all of the effort and energy that he placed into making each and every one of us.
James 5:16 says that we are to confess and be healed, right? Something that I used to struggle with is what I call "pretty girl syndrome". No, I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about all of the women that I used to be surrounded by who I thought were stunning; stunning to the point where I envied them. One day, my mother (who is on that list) said, "So, when people say you look like me, what do you think they mean?" Check. Then when I really let these verses sink it, it became a checkmate.
Some of us could stand to repent, right here and right now, for thinking that God spent more time designing the women around us than us. Can you imagine how insulting that is to our Heavenly Father to think or feel that way? More than that, how much it hurts his feelings?
God is excellent in all He does. You are no exception. Since His works are marvelous and you are one of them, don't you think it's time that you gave Him some heartfelt praise for all He put into you? All that He put in that no one else has quite like you? Amen? Amen.
3. "Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem, by the gazelles, yes, by all the wild deer: Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe—and you’re ready."---Song of Solomon 2:7 (Message)
Now this is a good one. Hands down, Song of Solomon is one of my favorite books of the Bible because it reminds us that God is all about sex and intimacy. According to Scripture, His standards are high (you can read between the lines there), but He is all for love and passion. At the same time, He is also a great source of common sense (Proverbs 2:6-8—Message); that's why this one resonates with me so.
If you're not familiar with the Shulamite woman who is featured in this book of the Bible, she's a dark sistah (yep) who has enough wisdom and insight to basically tell her friends, "It's best to love someone when the time is right. When things line up in such a way where you are ready and he is ready."
Can you imagine all of the drama that would be spared if we all thought this way? If, instead of one of our friends getting a DM from some ex and us telling her that it's a sign that he's the one, that we encourage her to wait before responding and to pray and process if it truly is a good idea to reach back out or not?
Again, Song of Solomon is filled with passion. All good. But this verse right here complements something that Benjamin Franklin once said—"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." Yup.
4. "My darling, everything about you is beautiful, and there is nothing at all wrong with you."---Song of Solomon 4:7 (NCV)
Only an ego-maniac or totally self-delusional individual believes that the person who is meant to be their significant other should never challenge them (that reminds me, when you get a chance, check out the awesome points found in the videos "7 Signs This Man Might Be for You" and "7 Signs This Might Be from the Devil"). If you want to grow, you're gonna need to hear about yourself sometimes, whether you want to, like it or not.
At the same time, this verse right here is a reminder that your man will be your biggest fan. He will not be out here dropping hints about how much prettier you would be if you lost weight, had a bigger butt or changed your hair. He's gonna be like what a husband once said to me about his wife—"I love that when God made her, he had me in mind."
We are all human. This means that we ALL have something to work on and improve upon. But when this man said that there was nothing wrong with this woman he loved, while a good relationship improves us, what he was essentially saying is there was nothing that he wanted to change.
Women deserve to hear this. Men do too. So ladies, if you're currently seeing someone and you're already plottin' and plannin' ways to change him after marriage, I'll just say that if both of you can't say this verse to one another, perhaps you're not meant for one another. At least, not right now.
5. "God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!”---Jeremiah 31:22 (Message)
Back when I was going through a bit of a life transition that was wearing me all the way out, God led me to this Scripture right here. Whew. Not only was going through so much because he was doing something new (sometimes, in order to get the right "house", the foundation has to be demolished too), but the transition was all about transformation.
To be transformed is "to undergo a change in form, appearance, or character". This is why I wrote the article "5 Signs That You Really Know A Person". If we're all taking this thing called time seriously, many of us are not the same person we were six months ago, let alone five years ago (so know, everyone should not be able to say that they "know" you). And if we are as "spiritual" as we claim, we definitely should be doing some transforming; we definitely should want God to transform us.
The other thing that I like about this particular verse is it says that while the woman (which is Israel in this case) got to a place of transformation, God was still transforming! It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by evangelist Oswald Chambers—"Never try to make your experience a principle for others, but allow God to be as creative and original with others as He is with you." Why? Because since God changes his form or appearance (not really his character; Malachi 3:6 [NKJV] says, "For I am the Lord, I do not change"), we should let God come to us (and others) how He chooses. We shouldn't "box Him in" as it relates to how or when He decides to transform us and our lives.
6. "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."---Matthew 6:7-9 (NKJV)
Yeah buddy. A lot of church leaders could stand to read—and reread—those first two sentences, but I digress. The reason why this is so important is because of the last line. Although a lot of life consists of learning the difference between what we want and what we need (especially what we want in correlation to what God says that we need), if we really do believe that our Heavenly Father has our best interest at heart, we've got to trust that He doesn't need us reminding—or worse, instructing—Him about how our lives should go. Although it's truly an epidemic, how many people feel like they can pick or choose what part of the Bible is applicable and right, if you claim to be a follower of the Scriptures, this is not one that can or should be omitted.
Prayer is fine. Biblically-encouraged too. But whatever it is that you are going through right now, no matter how big the need may be, know that you are totally on God's radar. He saw the "requirement" or "urgent want" well before you did.
And, as my favorite quote from Pastor John Piper states, "God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them." Trust and believe that your needs are somewhere on that list ("Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."—Luke 12:6-7—NKJV)
7. "There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, 'The two become one.' Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never 'become one.'"----I Corinthians 6:16-17 (Message)
I have shared before that I'm a firm believer that we all should be able to explain our purpose in three words or phrases. Mine are centered around sex, marriage and the Sabbath—all of which are biblical covenant principles. Believe you me, it's an odd combo and sometimes I catch heat for it. I mean, how can I profess to be a bible follower and talk about sex as much as I do (gasp!)?
You can read articles of mine like "We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'" and "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important" to know that I don't take sex lightly; I find it to be extremely sacred (after all, I'm a marriage life coach not a sex therapist). At the same time, I know that different people come into different insights about sex in their own way and time. I also know that the Church, overall, has done a horrific job addressing sex and sexuality. It's like something I read that a man by the name of Don Schrader once said—"To hear many religious people talk, one would think God created the torso, head, legs and arms, but the devil slapped on the genitals." Indeed. Indeed.
So yes, sex should be discussed. Not just discussed but celebrated. It's nothing to be hush-hush or ashamed about. At the same time, if you take Scripture seriously, verses like this one shouldn't be overlooked. Sex is about a heck of a lot more than gettin' your rocks off and there are spiritual ramifications that go deep, deep, DEEP. Always keep that in mind with the choices that you make—even as a single woman.
8. "Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!"---Jude 1:2 (Message)
I don't know about you, but I think that sometimes people underestimate what we go through as single women. We're responsible for so much on our own that it can be overwhelming, right? That's why one of my favorite "anchor Scriptures" is this one.
Once upon a time, after a heartbreak that I experienced, someone sent me this. I had never seen it before and it totally blew my mind because I felt like it was customized and heaven sent just for me. Sometimes, all we need to hear in our spirit is, "Relax, my child. It's all going to work out for your good." Plus, the "love is on the way" part speaks to me on two different levels. One, I haven't been brought to my husband-king yet, but another Message Version verse that I totally dig is, "You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business" (Acts 1:7).
This verse reminds me that I can't force the Universe; that I need to let things flow. And two, God is love; the Word tells us that in I John 4:7-16 tells us that. So, in the meantime, while I am awaiting my future beloved, Love is on the way to bring me so many other manifestations of his Love. And really…does it get better than that?
Like I said earlier, Scriptures present themselves differently to us all. But I do hope and, also believe, that if you spend a little time meditating on these eight, they can speak volumes and work miracles in your life, just as they did for me. Be blessed, sis.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
I've Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul
Being A Christian Doesn't Make You Entitled
7 Things I Learned After Becoming a Super Saved, Sanctified, Holy Ghost-Filled Christian
I Became Less Religious But Grew Closer to God When I Left the Church
Feature image by Shutterstock
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
Introducing Chief Mom Officer: Where Working Moms Come First
xoNecole's Chief Mom Officer explores the 18-month post-pregnancy journey through the lens of our very own Chief Mom Officer, Shakyna Bolden. The series will serve as an inspirational and resourceful guide to help get through the early days of new motherhood as working moms knowing they are not alone in the hardships.
“I want to build my work around my life, and not my life around my work.”
I typed these words in my iPhone Notes as I fed my newborn daughter one morning during the first few weeks of having her earthside. I didn’t have much time for page-filled journal entries as my days were filled with nonstop feedings, soothing, and recovery…but I knew I needed to give those words space and life.
Prior to my maternity leave, I, like most working moms, was burning fumes juggling work and life. Since 2019, I’ve been running revenue operations here at this really cool company you may have heard of called xoNecole (hehe). I’ve been behind the scenes building our brand partnerships and negotiating deals with companies such as Ulta Beauty, Toyota, Target, Spotify, SheaMoisture, etc.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
I’ve co-produced our signature events like ElevateHER and Pajamas & Lipstick while conceptualizing, selling, building, and distributing our original video and podcast content and podcast. The list goes on and on. I’ve helped build this small but brilliant company into what it is today, all while running my own small family. And that is not an easy feat.
In all truth, trying to be the best mom and partner I can be while also leading in my job has felt at times like a whirlwind where the rest of my life is passing me by. I don’t quite know where or when it happened, but I swear somebody pushed the fast-forward button in life, and I’m losing my edges trying to keep up.
My mind and body get so preoccupied with the management of life that my soul sits on the sidelines, waiting to take the reins and intentionally live it.
So many facets of my life, from my health and well-being to my hobbies and passions, have been placed on the back burner while tending to my young family and growing in my career has taken center stage. And for the longest time, I’ve wanted to flip the switch, but the pace of life just hasn’t let me restack my priorities.
That is, until now.
Courtesy of Shakyna Bolden
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter last year, I couldn’t imagine adding more to my already full plate. Simultaneously, I was also relieved to know that my upcoming maternity leave would force me to press pause and catch my breath. Her birth in January 2023 was a much-needed reset, to say the least.
My maternity leave was the first time since 2019 that I had a second for dreams that were buried in the back of my heart to bubble up to the surface of my reality. I got a taste of what it was like to solely focus on my well-being and my home life. And I liked it a lot. My healing. My recovery. Sitting and really taking quiet time with God to search the unattended areas in the garden of my life.
I was cooking homemade meals on the regular and actually sitting down with my family at the table to eat. As grueling as those first newborn weeks can be, I was enjoying the long-awaited shift in my priorities; and I wanted that shift to stick. I didn’t want it to fade away after my maternity leave.
I want to build my work around my life and not my life around my work.
As a leader of an organization that speaks to millions of women every day about their well-being (and also in leading a team of majority women), I feel it’s my responsibility to carry this shift forward boldly. This is why I’m launching a new column here at xoNecole: Chief Mom Officer!
As I return to work full-time this month from my maternity leave, I want to regularly share my experience of trying to harmonize work and life. As an audience, you all share your raw, unfiltered journeys with us. For years, they’ve undoubtedly inspired me. I want to show up and do the same because I know this shift in my life will be quite the journey.
So for all my Chief Mom Officers—those of us who are constantly merging the imperfect and chaotic worlds of leadership in the office and wearing our crowns at home—I invite you to come on this journey with me and celebrate the ebbs and flows in how we show up for each.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image courtesy of Shakyna Bolden