Do You Have Enough Faith to be Brave?

Walking girl on the beachThe single mom life is hard. Harder than I ever knew, or imagined it would be. Many days I feel like I’m standing in the ocean, being knocked over again and again by the waves that keep coming—and keep coming—and I’m not strong enough to push through them.

Can you relate?

It’s exhausting. Even more so because you’re likely doing it all alone. And sometimes you wonder if that next wave is going to be the one that finally pulls you under. For good.

You push through each day, doing all you can for your children. And as evening rolls in, you tuck your heart, and your feelings, and the dreams you once held into your back pocket believing that they are safer out of the way for now. That you and your tender heart are better with them hidden out of sight. Because even the slightest glimpse is too much at times. A reminder that your road has been too hard. Too painful. Too unfair.

Until one day . . . you decide you need more.

Because with some distance between you and the starting point on this single motherhood path, you’ve done the hard work of healing a little. You’ve grown a little. And you let yourself begin to dream again—just a little.

And by faith, you decide to be brave. Knowing that many have gone before you the same way.

Like Esther who stood up to save a nation . . . by faith.
Like Hagar who trusted God after being banished . . . by faith.
Like Ruth who trusted that her life would be redeemed . . . by faith.

Because bravery isn’t about us or what we can convince ourselves to do. Bravery comes through faith. Knowing that there is One who is there with us in our daily battle. Holding us up against the waves. Not letting them knock us over. Then gently pushing us toward the shore to begin again.

Maybe it’s your turn to be brave by faith, and start again.

To stop listening to the booming voice in your head that tells you life is hard and you should just deal with the blows you’ve been given.

And listen instead to the voice that teaches that life can be beautiful, and blessed, and redeemed.

If your healing has led you to a place of wanting more, then stand up and point yourself toward that shore, sweet friend. You can do it.

He’s right behind you.

 

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories about being brave. <3

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You aren’t Called to be Mom AND Dad

“I don’t know how you do it all,” she smiled at me in an attempt to encourage. “I could never handle all of that. You know, being both the mom and dad to my kids.”

I stared at her a moment too long, creating an uncomfortable silence between us. A flash of panic flickered through my mind: was I supposed to be both the mom and dad?

Of course, I’d heard the concept before. Often from single moms who were working themselves to the bone with little or no help from anyone else. I’d seen them at ball fields throwing baseballs, at scout meetings pitching tents, and at dance recitals carrying flowers to the stage.

But, before that, I witnessed it firsthand as a child. I watched as my own mother struggled to make up for the hole that was left by my father. Listened as she told me that he still cared about me—even when it was clear he’d moved on. At my wedding—the day he officially disowned me—I felt numb as she spoke encouraging words about how much I meant to everyone else. How it was his loss, not mine.

By the time I became a single mom, I’d had a lifetime of watching others rush to fill the father gap in their children’s lives—and I was sick to death of it all.

I decided from the beginning that I would do whatever I could to encourage a positive relationship with my ex. Even if it meant throwing myself under the proverbial bus every day for my kid’s sake. I wanted them to have a good relationship with their dad. I wanted them to continue to see how much he loved them as often as I could. I wanted them to avoid the empty hole I held onto for so many years in my heart.

And, in my short time as a single mom, as I’ve been witness and comforter to a variety of other single moms, I’ve come to realize one thing:

We are not called to fill the gaps in our children’s lives.

Luckily, for many of us, we don’t have to. Our children’s fathers fall in step with the new situation and do everything they can to be there, to comfort, and to provide a positive experience for everyone. But for others, they fall to the wayside. Slowly pulling away, slowly fading in the time they spend, slowly creating a rift between themselves and the rest of the family.

If you find yourself in the latter situation, I want you to hear me now:

God has a plan for this.

We weren’t called to be both the mother and the father to our kids. We were made their mothers. The very day our children came to being. Mothers. With enough responsibilities in that one word to build a lifetime around. Mothers. Who are gifted at loving, and caring for, and raising our children with the influence that only a mother can give.

We were never meant to be their fathers.

Seriously. Stop trying to do both. Just be you.

Because the fact of the matter is that they already have a father. And whether that relationship is a positive one or a negative one, it is in their lives as little or as much as it is supposed to be. Because God saw this life you and your children would lead before it ever came to be. He knew your children’s hearts, and wants, and needs. And he can use all of it for their good.

Every single bit.

He tells us so, in his own words. “I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18

We should encourage the very best relationship with our kids and their fathers—it’s our duty as their mothers. We shouldn’t try to replace, or hinder, or especially excuse this role because it is pivotal in how they will one day grow in their relationship with Father God. But, if our children’s father chooses not to be involved, God himself will step in and fill the gap. God himself will teach your child. God himself will discipline your child. God himself will guide your child.

How do I know this?

He did it for me.

If needed, he’ll do it for your children as well.

 

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories about family. <3

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When All You Have is Mercy

When All You Have is Mercy

I grew up around boys. A LOT of boys. For most of my early childhood, I was in a neighborhood with about 20 of them . . . and then me. I learned how to build forts and dig traps around the perimeter to keep the boys out of my hideaways. I learned how to catch salamanders and tadpoles without falling into a creek. And, I learned how to beg for mercy to stop Indian burns from leaving a mark (if you’ve never experienced one, think: a relentless twisting and rubbing of the skin on your arm until you believe it might actually catch fire.)

I learned early on that one of the few ways to get out of an uncomfortable match-up was to call for mercy. Ok, shout for mercy. It was the single thing that made them retreat. The single thing that meant you gave up. The single thing that got you off the hook.

In my relatively short time being a single mom, I’ve come in contact with a lot of other moms on this same path. Each story is unique, each struggle different, and each one heartbreaking in the fact that no mother ever wants her family to fall apart—not one.

And in all of my encounters with these women, as they reach out to tell their story, they all have the same need: someone to hear that story and offer something it seems they haven’t seen much of recently: mercy.

Mercy as they cry and pour their heart out to someone who is safe.

Mercy when I tell them that there is still good in their lives, there is still good in them.

Mercy instead of judgment.

Sometimes, mercy is all you need.

My heart breaks for each of them, even as I do all I can to point them toward healing that deep wound within. My heart breaks in understanding, because I have a matching wound. And though mine is beginning to form a scar as God heals it, it’s still tender to the touch at times.

Sometimes, mercy is all you have to offer.

Because God has shown me the same mercy during this most difficult time in my life, it’s filled me with an overabundance of mercy toward others. I’m merciful because I’ve experienced the sweet relief that comes from someone whose looked at my life and offered mercy when I certainly didn’t feel I deserved it. In such a compassionate and loving way, that they stood out from what everyone else in my life was saying.

From family members who have forgiven hurts in order to be there for me during my time of need.

From friends who haven’t asked questions about what happened in an attempt to gain a morsel for later conversation, but because they deeply cared and wanted me to know it.

From church leaders who watched me approach them in shame, and encouraged me to lift my head—and my hands—toward heaven.

Isn’t that where God wants all of us in our walk? To live and give mercy?

Isn’t that what we all need? More mercy in our lives?

Whether we shout for it or can barely manage a whisper.

 

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories of mercy <3

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Can the Divorced Live Shame-less?

Open Hand Raised, Stop Stigma Sign Painted, Multi Purpose ConcepThere’s a dirty little secret among some Christians that I didn’t realize until I began down the path of ending my marriage. It took nearly a year, actually, for me to fully see it. Then, even longer to comprehend that the brotherhood and sisterhood I love so deeply could be so hurtful about something that causes so much pain.

There is a deep-held belief by some believers in the church that those who divorce will not be forgiven by God. Not only that, but that they are forever held in this sin of divorce, and then held captive in a single state for the rest of their lives because remarrying another is considered adultery. They don’t have to know your specific situation in order to come to this conclusion. In fact, they probably won’t even ask.

It surfaced in social media groups I was a part of. Someone would mention divorce and a stream of Bible verses condemning them would follow.

It surfaced in my friendships as I talked to other divorced moms and how they were singled out by people with hateful emails detailing how they would go to hell for committing adultery if they ever remarried.

But, before any of these things, it reminded me of a moment from early adulthood. A moment in college where someone I was close to (a seminary student) told me that my own mother was going to hell for adultery because she remarried after her divorce. He’d never met my mother, or knew anything behind the reason for her divorce. And, I wasn’t a believer at the time. You can imagine how close that brought me to God.

And so, a sour seed was planted in my heart that resurfaced as I realized that others (still) felt that way today. And because I believe that God forgives all sin of those who turn to him—no matter what—I couldn’t fathom this line of thinking:

Are the divorced unforgiveable?

I’ve been looking for answers on this because my single goal in life is to stay in the will of God. And, I fully believe that in some marriages, God calls people out of the marriage. Not all marriages, but some. Because we all know that marriages are often not what they seem from the outside. They can be full of sinful behavior that can only be escaped through divorce. And for an innocent in the marriage to suffer through a life of sin is not what God intends for anyone.

And there are only three people that will ever know the full truth of a marriage—the husband, the wife, and God.

Besides that, there are only three people whose business it is: the husband, the wife, and God.

And so I wonder if these people who are quick to condemn, realize the pain that their victims are going through. And, not only that, but the additional pain they are causing–and the slippery slope they are walking as they lead another away from God based on their own self-righteousness.

For those of you who have never suffered through a divorce, let me let you in on a little secret: the physical pain of being ripped apart from someone you once loved deeply is literally a tearing of the flesh from when two became one. And it feels like it. Physically, mentally, emotionally. To then have an outsider pour insults on the wound usually has no other effect than to turn that person away from God–in shame.

But, sweet friend, in the midst of that pain–when someone tries to fill you with shame, God is there too, offering to remove it. He still holds his hand toward the wretch that you may feel you are, and offers forgiveness and hope.

What Jesus doesn’t offer, is shame.

Just like he didn’t shame the Samaritan woman in John 4:

When Jesus asked her for a drink of water from the well, he told her “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Intrigued, she asked him for the water, to which he replied, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

I imagine her lowering her head  here as she said, “I have no husband.”

But Jesus, in his great love and graciousness, said “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

He didn’t belittle her. He didn’t shame her. And, most importantly, he didn’t then tell her that his offer of living water no longer applied to her. Instead, his acceptance of her led her to go out and tell others. She was so effective, that the Bible says that many came to believe in Jesus because of her testimony.

Because that’s who Jesus is and what he can do in your life.

He is the God of the broken, of the wretch, of the sinner.

He is the God of the liar, the thief, the murderer.

He is the God of the depraved, the gluttonous, and the immoral.

He is the God who forgives a known criminal hanging on a cross beside him, just moments before death strikes.

Because Jesus didn’t come to this world to save those of us who lived perfect lives, following every rule written in the Bible. He didn’t come to save those of us who know him and know that we will make it into heaven because we do what he says. He didn’t come to save those of us who have sinned in the past but will never make that mistake again in the future.

He came to this world to save the shamed.

Those who have fallen so far from perfect that they know—they know—that the only hope that they have in being a part of his life is to turn over every ounce of that broken life to him. In the midst of our sins to turn to him—tell him we simply aren’t good enough, and we know it—and then ask him to love us anyway.

And he not only loves us, but sets us free. Free to live shame-lessly for him. And that is a beautiful balm to an already broken heart.

Because shame works against his greatest desires for you—to be in a close relationship with him, and to tell others about him too.

So, move on from your past—whatever that may be—knowing that you are forgiven. Completely. That you are to allow him to lift that burden from your life, so that you can go out and tell others what he’s done for you. I pray that you become so effective, that many will come to believe in Jesus because of your testimony. Because of the truth you live that nothing can hold you away from him.

Even after you sin again.

Even after you hurt others.

Even after your divorce.

Jesus shame-lessly forgave it all.

 

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories of living a  Shame-less life. <3

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Before You Put up Your Dukes

Pink Lady Boxer

So, I have a confession to make about this blog post.

It’s part Deux. As in a do-over. A restart.

Because the first version was . . . well, raw. The very thought of having to fight back during this time of my life can get me heated. Because single motherhood has been everything I feared. And then five times worse. I’ve had my dukes up from day one. Even when all I wanted to do was put them over my face and cry.

I’ve had to fight—mentally, emotionally, and physically—to get to a healthy point in this process. I’ve had to give up and fully turn over everything to God when all I wanted was to regain control. It’s literally been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s topped losing my job. It’s topped being lied to by the one person I trusted the most. It’s topped being disowned by half my family.

And when I think about further difficulty coming my way, all I want to do is take someone out. Whoever that may be. My instinct is to lash out, and get even, and consider revenge.

But, God calls us to himself instead.

In the midst of our difficulties, God gives us the power to bear the pain of unjust suffering. And while we may feel like the next step we should take is retaliation, we shouldn’t. That’s living by the world’s standards. Not God’s. And there is no better way to glorify the God we love than to give up, and ask him to fight for us instead.

The single mom’s most likely opponent is often her ex. If that’s you, and you’re ready for battle, I hope you’ll lean in close to listen here:

Not fighting may be one of the most difficult things you have to do. But, as much as it’s in your ability to do so, you should turn the other cheek unless you or your children are in imminent danger.

This can look like a lot of unpleasant things:

Ignoring the bad things being said about you.

Letting the under-the-breath comments go.

Ignoring the hurtful reaction when you ask for something that is well within your right to ask for.

Letting the too-late-to-make-a-difference kindnesses pass over you, rather than remind you of all the times they couldn’t offer them before.

Ignoring the hurtful ways extended family now treats you.

Just typing those out makes me want to slap someone. Seriously. It’s innate. It’s human. But, it’s not what we’re called to do as believers. This is when we have to call on something bigger than us—stronger than us—to step in and take over before we make a mess.

Because in the long run, the mess we are making is not in our own lives, but in our children’s. Most likely, we will move on to other relationships and maybe even a new marriage. We’ll get to start over fresh in that regard. But our children’s lives are being spelled out before them—right in front of them—though they have no say or control.

If we create a hostile environment—they will be the ones to suffer into adulthood.

If we disparage the other parent—they will be the ones to look within themselves and find something wrong.

If we let our anger rule our day-to-day lives—they will be the ones to lose their childhood.

So, don’t be so quick to draw that line in the sand—even though it feels like exactly what you should do. Doing so only further separates a family that is already broken.

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (NIV)

Ask God to put up his dukes instead. In the end, it’s his battle to fight. And, he has the ultimate vantage point.

And sweet friend, if you’ve already put up your dukes and promised to take someone down for making what is already hard, even harder. It’s ok.

Start over. Reset. Write a part deux.

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook!

 

This post is a part of Suzie Eller’s Live Free Thursday blog hop. Stop by her blog for other stories about putting up your dukes!

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When You Can’t Take One More Thing

 

Tipping point

It’s like the tipping point on a jug of milk. That delicate balance between being able to keep it under control and pour a glass to enjoy, and the point where it’s too heavy and falls forward spilling every last drop.

Maybe you’ve been there.

You’re coming through the other side of a rough time and you’re beginning to get a grip on life again. Maybe you’ve been able to pay your bills for the first time in a long time, or you’ve improved physically, or your children have excelled with something you’ve been trying to tackle together.

Maybe you’ve simply been able to be around others without breaking down.

If you’ve gone through loss, that my friend is no small feat.

Then, it happens.

Something gets off-kilter in your life—or at least seems to be—and you feel like all that ground you’ve gained has suddenly been ripped out from under you. Like a cruel magic trick, the rug has been pulled, and you’ve just landed flat on your back.

Mentally, you’re right back at your low point. I mean, THE low point. The one you thought might kill you. As if you haven’t made the first step in progress. And it’s more defeating this time around.

Emotionally, you’re numb. You can’t gather the mental tenacity to climb another obstacle.

Physically, you freeze. You can’t bear to watch what will happen. You can’t stand to face the situation or even reach out for help because you’re too exhausted to deal with life anymore. It shouldn’t be this hard, should it?

Until you realize . . . you’ve overreacted.

It happened to me this week: a minor issue with my cell phone and my bank at the same time. A pure coincidence that was easily resolved with a visit to both. No harm, no foul.

But when it happened, I immediately went to that place. You know, the one where my life is falling apart. And it was all I could do to even face resolving it. All. I. Could. Do.

I cried as I drove to the bank, assuming something horrible was about to enter my life that was going to be completely out of control—even though I’d done nothing wrong, and I was fully aware of that fact. It took me back to a place of fear, where things would happen to me just because I was me. Like my life was on rails. I could feel my heart racing as I stepped to the help desk. I was struck with fear.

I felt like a victim, and it sickened me.

Can you relate?

Sweet friend, if you’ve been there, or if you’re there now I need you to hear this:

You are not a victim, because you are not a casualty in your life. You and what has happened to you is not the end result—even though it may feel that way. You and what has happened to you is often the beginning—and sometimes the most important—point in your journey. And every step you’ve taken to get here has been crucial to your future success.

Because God uses each and every point along your journey for good. To teach you. To guide you. To help you grow into the person he is calling you to be. Because a time will come, when he calls you front and center. When he takes your hand and pulls you through the crowd—to lead. To show them that you’ve been where they’ve been, and that they’re going to make it too.

He’s leading you through this because he trusts you. He trusts that you will rise to the occasion. That you will use what seems bad in your life to encourage another person who needs to know that he never left you in it. That he carried you through it. And that he didn’t allow you to be victimized any longer. And that he wants to do the same for them.

And you need to trust as well. Trust that he is still with you in this. Even after the small victories. He’s not guided you to this point only to leave you there as if to say, “She’s got it now. I’m done here.” He’s with you until the end.

“‘. . . along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 42:16

So, have courage. Lean on him for strength. And put the past behind you trusting that God is ahead of you.

All you need to do is follow his lead and trust.

 

 

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Why You Deserve Better (2)

Why You Deserve BetterA few years ago, I read an article by another mom-blogger who talked about the day she stopped eating burnt toast. Though I can’t recall the writer’s name, I can recall with great clarity the feeling of “Oh yeah, I should stop doing that too!” that came over me as she detailed how she was tired of always giving herself the leftovers, the crumbs in life, the pieces of burnt toast.

But sometimes, it’s hard to believe we deserve better.

Sometimes we’re so focused on what everyone else needs, on what we are expected to do as a mom, on the people we would willingly lay our own lives down for, that we forget we matter too.

You matter too.

And while there is something to be said for sacrifice, and giving, and loving with grace, we are not called to ignore everything that happens to us—as if we don’t matter—and just pretend that we are ok with being treated like the bottom of someone’s shoe, for everyone else’s sake.

It takes me back to where I often go when struggling with how I’m feeling about myself and what I may or may not “deserve” in this life: I think of my kids. If one of them were in my situation, what would I want for them? To be shoved to the corner and their thoughts/feelings/needs ignored so that others could continue with the status quo? Or, to stand up and say—even if only in a strained whisper—this is not working. This is not ok. This is not how I should be treated.

Which also takes me to where I go next: I think of God and how I’m his kid. How he might look at my situation and think: Why is she trying so hard to be a martyr? Doesn’t she know I need her to take care of herself first—so that she can take care of everything else I’ve given her? Doesn’t she know her worth, and that I want only good for her? Good—not harm? Doesn’t she know that she isn’t responsible for the brokenness in others? She’s only responsible for healing and restoring herself to me?

Do you?

Do you know that though Jesus put God first in his life, he put himself second? That even though he served like no one else in history, he never once took on another person’s actions and thought—yes, I deserved that because I put myself in the position to receive it. He prayed for those that hurt him, but he also stood up for himself.

He rebuked injustice. He called people out of their sin. He freed us from ourselves, and didn’t then say, “But thou art responsible for every other bad thing that you allow to happen to you in life.”

Because sometimes we are treated unfairly. Sometimes horribly. Sometimes just carelessly.

But, we aren’t called to stay there for the simple fact that we found ourselves there. Of course, the enemy loves to tell us otherwise. Because keeping us in a place where we feel broken, and helpless, and hopeless fuels his great desire for us: to make us feel stuck. Incomplete. Alone.

Sweet friend, you are anything but. The simple fact that you’ve held yourself in a place that’s been hard for you speaks volumes to your heart for following what you believe God is calling you into. Just don’t make the mistake of believing that He’s calling you into another person’s mistakes. He’s not calling you to pay the price for another person’s actions. He gave us a Savior for that very purpose. Who reached into the lives of the broken and offered forgiveness and healing, and redemption. It’s not something we can do for them. And, quite frankly, it’s not what we’re called to do.

Because you matter too.

 

 

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Why You Deserve Better

Why You Deserve Better

A few years ago, I read an article by another mom-blogger who talked about the day she stopped eating burnt toast. Though I can’t recall the writer’s name, I can recall with great clarity the feeling of “Oh yeah, I should stop doing that too!” that came over me as she detailed how she was tired of always giving herself the leftovers, the crumbs in life, the pieces of burnt toast.

But sometimes, it’s hard to believe we deserve better.

Sometimes we’re so focused on what everyone else needs, on what we are expected to do as a mom, on the people we would willingly lay our own lives down for, that we forget we matter too.

You matter too.

And while there is something to be said for sacrifice, and giving, and loving with grace, we are not called to ignore everything that happens to us—as if we don’t matter—and just pretend that we are ok with being treated like the bottom of someone’s shoe, for everyone else’s sake.

It takes me back to where I often go when struggling with how I’m feeling about myself and what I may or may not “deserve” in this life: I think of my kids. If one of them were in my situation, what would I want for them? To be shoved to the corner and their thoughts/feelings/needs ignored so that others could continue with the status quo? Or, to stand up and say—even if only in a strained whisper—this is not working. This is not ok. This is not how I should be treated.

Which also takes me to where I go next: I think of God and how I’m his kid. How he might look at my situation and think: Why is she trying so hard to be a martyr? Doesn’t she know I need her to take care of herself first—so that she can take care of everything else I’ve given her? Doesn’t she know her worth, and that I want only good for her? Good—not harm? Doesn’t she know that she isn’t responsible for the brokenness in others? She’s only responsible for healing and restoring herself to me?

Do you?

Do you know that though Jesus put God first in his life, he put himself second? That even though he served like no one else in history, he never once took on another person’s actions and thought—yes, I deserved that because I put myself in the position to receive it. He prayed for those that hurt him, but he also stood up for himself.

He rebuked injustice. He called people out of their sin. He freed us from ourselves, and didn’t then say, “But thou art responsible for every other bad thing that you allow to happen to you in life.”

Because sometimes we are treated unfairly. Sometimes horribly. Sometimes just carelessly.

But, we aren’t called to stay there for the simple fact that we found ourselves there. Of course, the enemy loves to tell us otherwise. Because keeping us in a place where we feel broken, and helpless, and hopeless fuels his great desire for us: to make us feel stuck. Incomplete. Alone.

Sweet friend, you are anything but. The simple fact that you’ve held yourself in a place that’s been hard for you speaks volumes to your heart for following what you believe God is calling you into. Just don’t make the mistake of believing that He’s calling you into another person’s mistakes. He’s not calling you to pay the price for another person’s actions. He gave us a Savior for that very purpose. Who reached into the lives of the broken and offered forgiveness and healing, and redemption. It’s not something we can do for them. And, quite frankly, it’s not what we’re called to do.

Because you matter too.

 

 

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Posted in Faith, Motherhood, Single Parenting | 3 Comments

The Gift of Leaving it Behind with Grace

LEa

Most single moms have a personalized list of things they’d like to leave behind.

In fact, “Leave it behind” could be a single mom’s mantra. I’m telling you right now, if Taylor Swift hadn’t written the song Shake it Off, a single mom would have.

Hurt and struggling to heal. Misunderstood and feeling alone. Facing a “new normal” that includes sharing their children—when their children are the only thread they’re hanging onto. It’s very tempting to want to push it all behind us, swallow hard, and move forward. The world encourages it. Our friends encourage it. Even the legal system encourages it.

But pushing forward and “leaving it all behind” has its good side and bad side.

In many ways, it’s a good idea. There’s likely a lot of pain in the past that can only be healed by the sweet release that comes with time and distance.

But, as we’re letting go, we need to make sure that we don’t also leave the good behind—and pretend it was never there—for our children’s sake. Because their future is also shaped by their past. Their genetic makeup is made up of two parents. And a time will come in their lives when they will look back and wonder at the parts of each of their parents, and how a tiny bit of each is also a part of them.

If we’ve made those parts out to be horrible, or a mistake, or something unforgiveable—it wounds no one more than it wounds our children.

That’s why as we let the hurt go and leave it behind, we can’t slough off everything completely. We need to let go with grace. We need to examine where we’ve been. And search to find the good that might have also been at some point in our past. To remember the moments of joy. To recall the parts of our previous partner that were good, and maybe even admirable.

To help everyone involved to heal, so that leaving it behind doesn’t leave a scarlet thread tied to the past, called bitterness.

Because we will always be family. And as a family, we need to leave this breaking point behind us in a healthy way. So that everyone can move past it and not allow it to define our futures. In fact, one of the greatest gifts we can leave behind for our children—even though their original family is no longer intact–is a legacy of failure that was healed by forgiveness.

So they can see that forgiveness—true forgiveness—does exist, because they’ve witnessed  it firsthand. They’ve lived through it. And that when it’s coupled with grace, can leave everyone a future worth looking forward to.

 

Want to hear more stories of women who were able to “leave it behind”? Join me and lots of other bloggers on Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller on her Live Free Thursday link up.

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Posted in Motherhood, Relationships, Single Parenting | 10 Comments

Why You Should Lose that Loving Feeling

Light  heart on rustic wooden background

Being alone can be one the most difficult things we face as single parents. For those who were previously married, the shock of being alone is often made worse by the unforeseen aftershocks of loneliness that sneak upon us and pounce when we least expect it. And while those of us with children in our daily mix may never actually be alone in the true sense of the word, the longing for the next relationship in our lives can be so strong, it can consume us at times.

I’ve battled this a lot over my time as a single parent. It rises up at my most vulnerable moments—especially when I’m struggling to maintain a positive relationship with my ex. Facing that failed relationship is often all it takes to make me want to go out and prove that a positive one is just as probable.

Most times, it feels like a weakness. A major flaw. This desperate need to be connected with someone else. It makes me feel like there’s an emptiness in my life now. Something that I need to work to fill.

But, putting ourselves into the next relationship can be the worst decision we make if we’re doing so to “fill” an area of our life that seems lacking.

We have to stay acutely aware during this season of single parenting that when we feel empty, and long to be filled, the enemy will step in to offer all sorts of things. Things that may not be good for us—or for our children.

And so as I often take this need to God, I’m reminded each time that if a new relationship is to be a part of my life, I want Him to lead through that. I don’t want to flitter into something that looks good on the outside if it’s not God’s will for my life.

The truth is that the most filling relationship we can have is with Him. The one who has loved us through this difficult season—and all the seasons before. And instead of viewing our emptiness with shame and allowing a deep longing to grow there, we need to turn to Him. To view it as an opportunity to be filled.

Because He longs to do that for us. To fill us so completely with the Holy Spirit, that we are in sync with His plan for our lives. That we can see what comes into our path and understand that though it may be tempting, it is not for us. So we can be healed from the inside-out so that when our time for relationship comes, we approach it from a position of strength because our time with Him has made us stronger.

When we allow that emptiness to focus on the next relationship on the horizon instead, we begin to overlook.

Overlook the red flags.

Overlook the comments of close friends and family.

Overlook the buzzer going off inside when questionable things arise.

And focus instead on the person we’ve just met. The one we have no history with. The one that we’re willing to believe anything about because it’s new and exciting, and there’s possibility . . .

Until we have a healthy—and steady—relationship with God in which we are leaning on Him, and asking Him to guide our steps, we need to push back that loving feeling for the simple fact that we’re not ready. Don’t let this be the one area of your life in which you ignore the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Because unless you put your next relationship in the proper perspective, you give it the power to destroy you. And as a single parent, you’re bringing your children along as well.

Instead, let those nudges be a driving force as you allow your Father to guide you gently through this new season. Ask Him to fill that longing.

Then open your heart to His possibilities.

 

Want to connect with other single moms of faith? Stop by The Christian Single Mom on Facebook!

Join me and other bloggers from around the world on Suzie Eller’s Live Free Thursday Link Up. Read more about being FILLED this week!

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Posted in Relationships, Single Parenting | 3 Comments