Wisdom From a Single Parent
“Don’t put all of your eggs in your child’s basket.
It’s not fair to you or them.”
Those were the words that came out of the mouth of the marriage counselor as I sat across from him and tried to process what life as a single parent would be like. I had never put much thought into raising our daughter alone, so I was definitely all ears when someone I trusted spoke! That conversation was almost five years ago and I am still trying to process what plan B (or Q) looks like. During the process though, there are some things that God has asked me to surrender and has impressed on me as truth.
Grief doesn’t look the same for everyone. Losing a marriage was like the death of a family member for me. While I didn’t know all the steps to take, I knew that I wanted to grieve well and grieve once. That doesn’t mean grieving can happen all at once, but it does mean that when something makes me sad or hurt or angry or disappointed, I let those feelings remind me to find what’s at the root of them. I don’t want to be driven by my feelings, but they are great at letting me know what is important to me so I can ask God for healing and help.
Bitterness looks ugly! If I don’t want to be bitter, then I have to work hard at forgiveness. There are many sermons that are preached on forgiveness; probably for good reason! Forgiving someone can be really hard. For me, the “big things” are easier to forgive than the “small things.” Having to daily revisit yet another thing to forgive just feels yucky. The sermonette that I preach to myself when facing a forgiveness crossroad goes something like this: “I can choose to forgive. I may feel justified in my hurt and anger, but I’m not. Forgiving doesn’t make another person’s actions ok. Forgiving others does give me the chance to be forgiven by God. Today, I am choosing to forgive.” I say that until my feelings catch up and I really mean the words…my feelings always catch up!
Worrying is a sin. That is a tough one for me to swallow, but there it is in Matthew 6. For years, I thought that if I didn’t worry I was being a bad mom. That is a lie! I have read the statistics about what happens to girls whose dads don’t live with them. They made my worry worse! But I am living in the promises that God has good things for my little girl. He wants her to grow up and glorify Him and that means He can use her experiences -all of them- to show His power. I am also watching God provide godly men, like my dad and others, who invest in her life. If I trust God, then worrying is a waste of time.
Be present. We want our kids to remember us as available, supportive and present. Sometimes I physically show up, but am mentally elsewhere. When my mind wanders, I tend to have guilt and regret about the fun I missed out on. So frustrating! Before I leave work and go into an event I am learning to pause. Pause and be grateful. The Lord knows that gratitude is an exercise that grounds us. It keeps us present. He tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I love that God says to give thanks “in” all circumstances, not “for” all circumstances. I can give thanks “in” my circumstances because God is with me all the time!
Some days these lessons are fresh and easy to live out. Other times I really struggle. One final thought to cling to is this: Surrender gets so much easier when I remember Who I am surrendered to. Creator of life, Author of time, orchestrator of good plans, Love. At that point surrender just makes sense.
I met Cile through her precious sister and I am so glad she had the courage to share her story today.
Thank you Cile! I know others will be encouraged! – Courtney