When I became a single parent I was given one warning: the holidays would be a struggle. At first I was taken aback a little. I mean, of course I knew they would be a struggle, but to put it out there as if it was set in stone? Obviously they didn’t know I like a challenge.
See, I’m a firm believer that all life struggles are 5% what happens to you and 95% what you do with it. And, I know that no matter what I’m going through, God goes before me and behind me. Clearing the path, and catching me if I stumble.
So, I’m not having it. I’m not choking down that spoonful of self-pity. Instead, I’m taking the path I’ve chosen throughout this journey of single motherhood: the one that God’s walking with me. And I want you to do the same. We’re not only going to get through this holiday, but truly enjoy it. Cherish it even. And it all begins with our focus.
So, this month I’m focusing on a 4 week series of single parenting through the holidays with peace, love, joy, and hope.
As the holidays grow closer, I can see clearly up ahead. I know that there will be a lot of firsts for me: the first time I put together a tree alone, the first time I celebrate alone, the first time I will sit back on Christmas day and watch my kids play—alone. And while I might not actually be alone (because my kids are there, family will stop by, even my soon-to-be-ex will be involved), in my mind I could convince myself that I’m alone. But that would be something I’m choosing to believe, not a reality.
The truth is that I’m only as alone as I want to be. Because I’m only as close and connected to God as I want to be.
During those times when my life becomes hectic and I feel like I’m doing everything alone, I realize one thing: my focus has shifted off of God.
From the moment I wake up in the morning, I know where I stand with him. If I wake up with my mind racing, or I’m already worrying about something down the road, I know that I’ve moved too far away from him and my peacefulness is slipping.
It’s during those times that I have two choices:
- I can push past those feelings because I’m too busy to add another thing to my plate like prayer time, or Bible study, or even a conversation with God.
- I can push past whatever else is up next on my plate and make a conscious effort to focus on God instead.
If I choose #1 (which I have at times), life begins to feel panicked. Hopelessness can set in as I realize that I’m only living one day ahead of what needs to happen in my life. That I’m barely hanging in there emotionally at times.
But, if I choose #2, life begins to slow somehow. It doesn’t happen instantaneously, but in the coming days I’ll realize I’m sleeping better, and worrying less, and enjoying my children more.
Romans 8:6 says, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”
That’s a promise. When we make a conscious effort to choose against the grain—to push past what the world is shoving at us and instead reach toward God, he honors that. He joins us in those moments, thankful that we are reaching toward him. When we keep our focus on him, allowing him access to our deepest hurts and fears, he replaces them with not only peace—but life.
Obsession with our struggle leads to nowhere. It does nothing but encourage us to focus more and more on ourselves. But, putting our mind back on God leads to a freedom in our lives that can only come from him. A freedom that is not determined by our circumstances or our feelings.
But, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t have a pity party one minute, and then snap our attention back to God the next. We must make a conscious effort to keep him in the forefront of our mind.
So, as we enter into this holiday season, let’s cling fast to the Father who loves us. Because doing so will ensure that we are filled with peace this beautiful season. What better gift could we ask for?
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