I am honored to share with you this conversation with the lovely Lauren Windle. Her book Notes on Love was entertaining, wise and authentic. I am so excited to share Notes on Love with all of you.
Thank you, Lauren, for your time.
Modern Witnesses (“MW”): Hi Lauren, I have to say I enjoyed your book so much. It was like a wildly entertaining Marie Claire article. It’s probably the most enjoyable dating book I have read—and I worked at a Christian bookstore. I have read them all. Your book encompasses so many aspects of love and dating, without being cliché, stiff or dry. It’s also refreshingly realistic. How did you know this was a project you wanted to embark on?
Lauren Windle (“LW”): I am so pleased that you enjoyed it! Honestly, it makes my day when I get good feedback on the book! I guess a number of things made me want to write it. Firstly, when I looked at the books on offer, I struggled to find one that I felt represented the full single and dating experience. There was a lot of theology and hope and prayer – and none of that is wrong (obviously), but I need it mixed in with a bit of real life. I wanted to read something that felt like a conversation with a girlfriend (who also loves Jesus) over coffee. Then I was chatting to a woman who I was mentoring at the time and she recommended a non-Christian book to me called Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. It’s a fun but also very honest look at love for a woman in her 20s. We were saying how real the book was and she just said: “Why doesn’t someone write that for Christians?” It was just seed I needed to be planted!
MW: One of the concepts you mention early on in Notes on Love is this idea of the church learning to sit with people where they are. You also have a beautiful chapter on the church rethinking how it offers community. What are some ways we can learn to sit with others in a better way?
LW: I think we’re learning how to support those who are bereaved and, on the whole, the Church does that well. In my church, we show up, we drop round food packages, we sit with people in silence if needed. I think we’ve all learned that telling someone who has just lost a loved one about “God’s plan” and “God’s will” isn’t very comforting in that moment.
We need to extend that to other types of grief. It can be incredibly painful to try for a child but not conceive, or pray for a partner and still be single twenty years later. Losing a job, going through a break-up, even losing a pet – these things are tough. If you’re a single it can feel even harder as you try and navigate these things on your own. So let’s not let anyone do that. In a church community, there’s no need for anyone to have to go through something alone.
Let’s show up. Let’s bring fruit or chocolate or magazines. Let’s watch a game in silence – or maybe a RHONY rerun. Day to day living should be done with others, especially in times of difficulty.
MW: You mention that being single needs a rebrand. How would you repackage or describe it in a classified blurb?
LW: Ha! Great question. Just a quick clarification for a British person – is a classified blurb like an ad in the newspaper?!
LW: I think this is what it is currently:
Join a church on your own today and enjoy the full anxiety-experience! That’s right, you can bat off questions about your dating status, while trying to socialize and meet someone but still trying to convince others that you’re not desperate. For an additional 10$ you can have the awkward, break-up-in-church add on, with a schedule for which service you attend and a complimentary group of uncomfortable mutual friends.
But I think it should be:
Sign up to a church as a single person today and experience the full benefits of community! We’ll set up plenty of opportunities for you to connect with families, friends AND potential partners with our relaxed social calendar. You won’t be questioned about why you’re single or asked if you’re being “too picky”, just accepted for who you are. Join the dinners, days out and most importantly worship in our big, muddled family!
MW: I loved your emphasis on there not being a recipe or set of rules for finding love; this idea of letting go of timelines and formulas. I think that in general, we are all wrestling with some type of fear. What are ways you check yourself when you start feeling the fear thoughts creeping in? (We could all use some tips)
LW: I have to remind myself that God doesn’t run out of time. That’s all in my head. Comparisons are killer and I have to tell myself how costly they are. When we are living for God we are either focused on eternity with a bigger-picture mindset, or we’re fully engaged with the present enjoying it for the incredibly gifts it brings and allowing ourselves to feel all of it, good and bad.
When we start thinking out things in the past – “missed opportunities” or “regrets” we steal the joy from the moment. Just as when we start focusing on what we don’t have and set out a future timeline for when we should have it, you’re saying this moment isn’t enough – which is just not true.
I find so much freedom in knowing that all I have to do is live today well, for God, and in a way that I’m proud and the rest will come.
“I find so much freedom in knowing that all I have to do is live today well, for God, and in a way that I’m proud and the rest will come.”
MW: You have sections in the book on love addiction, tips for breaking up (or getting over a breakup)—was there a particular chapter or section that was more challenging to write about?
LW: I loved writing the section about Love Addiction – as a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, addiction of any kind is close to my heart. I’ve worked with Megan (who I used as the case study in the book) for years, and I’m so incredibly proud of her progress. Also, I think a lot of people don’t realize how serious love addiction can get.
As for the disappointment section, on my own experience of heartbreak, that was tough. I wrote it four hours after my boyfriend left me. I didn’t properly read it back until it was all finalized, and I was reading the audiobook. I think I knew if I read it again, I would try and change it. But I wanted it to be there in all its raw intensity.
MW: Is there anything God is speaking to your heart at the moment?
LW: So many things all the time! I feel like this has been a hectic time for me with lots of meetings and appointments and busyness. At the moment God is teaching me how to seek him for rest and peace in the middle of life’s chaos.
MW: What are you reading, and what has it taught you?
LW: Tiffany Bluhm’s Prey Tell. I can’t even tell you how moving and powerful this book is. It’s an exploration of why we silence women who come forward to report abuse in the church and the world. It’s heavy stuff but incredible. I would recommend to everyone.
MW: What are your top three essentials (or anything you can’t leave the house without):
LW: Moisturizer, I put it on my lips, my face, my skin, my fingernails (I tend to pick at the skin around them so they dry up). Love the stuff, I would bathe in it if it wasn’t so expensive.
My phone, that’s so sad and uncreative isn’t it? I’m not proud of myself.
My necklace, my family all chipped in to buy me a stunning necklace to celebrate my one year sobriety. It is so special, the pendant is in the shape of an olive brand and it brings me hope of brighter days every time I look at it.
MW: Who is your favorite person in Scripture and why?
LW: I have a love/hate relationship with Paul. But I think my favorite people are those who challenge me. As a recovering addict, I really relate to the whole “why do I do the things I don’t want to do” thing (Romans 7:15-20) and the thorn in his side (2 Corinthians 12:6-8).
MW: Do you have a first date go-to outfit?
LW: I’m so into clothes at the moment, and I love planning outfits. But I felt really convicted by the fast-fashion industry and how little garment workers are being paid that I’ve actually stopped buying new clothes altogether. All my clothes now come from charity shops or online resell platforms like Depop. But for dates, if I want to go the extra mile – I hire something. Renting clothes means that I now have a massive wardrobe full of stunning outfits.
I’ve got a date tonight, and I’ve rented a gorgeous black velvet wrap around number – honestly he’d be mad not to want a second date once he’s sees it!
MW: What is your morning routine?
LW: There are two options here. I can lie and tell you what I mean for my morning routine to be, or I can tell you what it actually is.
Let’s start with the first one. My morning routine is – I wake up at 7am (ish) and pray straight away. Then I go and do my HIIT workout, drink a load of water and hop in the shower. I get ready for the day and listen to my Bible in a year audiobook while I do. I probably pray more. Then I have a healthy breakfast and leave the house refreshed and ready.
Don’t get me wrong – that does happen but not as often as I’d like.
In reality, I wake up and shoot up a quick prayer. Scroll on my phone for too long so have to rush straight to the shower. I get ready quickly and rush out the house while jamming a piece of toast in my mouth and shoot up another prayer apologizing for not having Bible time and saying I’ll double down tomorrow.
MW: We are a global community, and I love exploring traditions. Is there a tradition or ritual you and your family engage in?
LW: Fish ‘n’ chip Fridays… if it’s not a tradition in your house, you’ve got to get involved. Battered fish, chunky chips (or fries to some people) tartare sauce, mushy peas and loads of malt vinegar. You can thank me later.
MW: In your book you say, “I pray that we start dancing on tables,” (169). I have to ask, what song are you dancing to?
LW: I don’t understand people who are able to pin down their one favorite song – there’s just no way. At the moment I’ve fallen in love with some old school tunes all over again; Toni Braxton, Ashanti and every Donell Jones song ever recorded. But you’ll also hear me screeching to Abba, Kaiser Chiefs, Burna Boy and Bieber. Basically, if you press play, I’ll be dancing.
“Basically, if you press play, I’ll be dancing.”
MW: If you had to define Christianity in a sentence, it would be:
LW: The best love story I ever heard, and I get to be a part of it.
Lauren Windle is an author, presenter and journalist, published by Mail Online, Huffington Post, The Sun Online, Fabulous Digital, Marie Claire, The Star, Church Times and others.
On 22nd April 2014, she got clean and sober from a cocaine and alcohol addiction and in 2018 gave a TEDx Talk about her personal story of addiction and recovery which now has more than a quarter of a million views.
Her book, Notes on Love: Being Single and Dating in a Marriage Obsessed Church, is out in July 2021, published by SPCK. She is the host of podcast The Good Pod Guide. Lauren is the proud owner of a Blue Peter badge and has her grade four ice-skating.
You can connect with her @_lauren_celeste on Instagram and Twitter.