One single mom asked:
“How do I learn to trust my own judgment? It is a very scary prospect, I have no idea where I will live, what job I should be looking for, how I will manage financially, whether I will be alone for the rest of my life, and I can’t actually decide what to make for tea tonight!”
I always thought I was a good judge of character until I realized how incredibly wrong I’d been about the spouse I chose to marry. When our marriage began to crumble and I realized all of the lies that I’d believed for years, it set me in a downward spiral that I was sure would be the end of me.
How could I have been so blind as to what was going on in front of me?
How could I have trusted someone who lied nearly every time he opened his mouth?
How could I have defended him against other people who called him out?
I felt like the biggest idiot on the face of the earth. Everyone knew. Everyone saw. Everyone understood who he was.
It put a serious kink in my self-esteem, but even worse—it made me feel as if I couldn’t even trust myself. As if I were too naïve, too incompetent, or too stupid (and I seriously hate that word, btw) to cope with life.
I started panicking at every decision I had to make.
Which bills to pay. What to do about my children’s school situations. What to plan for the holidays. Even how to proceed with dinnertime in our new version of family.
God literally carried me through those first weeks and months. They are a blur to me now. Crying out in pain in an empty house after dropping my kids off at school. Such a nervous wreck that I was constantly dropping things and forgetting important to-do’s. I felt like a bumbling idiot, and I was one millimeter above breaking down at any given moment. The bathroom and I became very, very close friends as it witnessed me crying uncontrollably in silence as I hid from my children nearly every single night.
I could have stayed stuck in that fog for months on end, had the Holy Spirit not nudged me.
But I reached a moment where He caused me to realize that there was nothing I could do about my past decisions—except learn from them.
I needed to take a long hard look at WHY I trusted so easily—even when it was clear I shouldn’t. At WHY I chose not to speak up when I knew I was being manipulated. At WHY I never bothered to look beyond the surface of what was going on.
Growing up in a family in turmoil, I learned early in life to go with the flow. If my dad was in a rage, I would remain calm and collected. If my mother was breaking down in the stress of it all, I would remain calm and collected. And I did so by living in my own mind more than I lived in the world. I had an incredible imagination and could turn my day around by simply tuning out to what was going on around me. It’s probably a big reason why I’m a writer today. I can go there at the drop of a hat.
As it turns out, this skill became a strength for me. I became the one that people turned to in crisis. I became an encourager that could see the good in any situation. I became the one that had a tenacious spirit that wouldn’t give up until things were on level ground again.
But, it also served as a weakness I couldn’t see.
I had surface relationships with most people—including my spouse—that didn’t go deep enough to question their motives or if they were a good person to allow into my life.
I was so happy to have anyone—anyone—want to be a part of my life that I would allow people who didn’t have my best interests at heart or just simply weren’t a good fit.
I was SO focused on the end goal of having a happy family that I didn’t give enough consideration to the down-and-dirty details of who I was marrying, how he handled me and others, and how his flaws might be a bigger problem down the road.
I had come to believe what others believed about me. So sure that I could control my outcome by working hard for it, by tidying up all the problems, by brushing problems I couldn’t fix under the rug—when there were HUGE indicators that it was time to pay attention to what I was allowing in my life.
The short answer: I could never accept that I deserved more than chaos.
But God has shown me that changing that past mindset will change my future.
You deserve more as well. But it starts with letting go of your past.
God’s grace covers everything. But, we play a part in how that redemption can change our future. We have to pay close attention to the “whys” behind what has happened. We have to look for what He is trying to teach us in it. That starts with searching our hearts and seeking wisdom from Him. So that we can learn from our mistakes and make wiser choices for our future. We have to show ourselves some tough, tough love and admit the steps we took that got us where we landed. Then, we have to let it all go. Accept God’s grace fully and leave our mistakes in the past so we can move onto our futures—just as God has.
See your true self
Until we see the truth of who we are—through God’s eyes, not our own—and accept that we are worthy of His best, we will keep accepting whatever we come upon. Until we believe with our whole hearts that God has a good plan for our lives, a good man to stand by our side, and a life filled with His peace, we will open our wounded hearts to anyone who shows interest. Spend time in His word, spend time in prayer, spend time in deep thought. Do the hard work of discovering who you are in His eyes, and how that has differed from what you’ve accepted about yourself in the past. The more you understand the truth of who you are, you won’t accept the watered down version anymore.
Make informed decisions
Building trust with yourself begins by building your trust in God. I’m not talking about surface trust, where we quote verses and hope we can believe them. I mean deep down, desperate, raw trust—because we know that He’s the only one that we can cling to wholeheartedly. Trust that causes us to listen to the nudges we don’t understand–and react to them–so that we can avoid situations, or open our eyes to them, before we get out of line with His will for our future. As your direction in life begins to align with His, you’ll soon see that you are moving in the right direction and will have peace about what’s to come.
The thing about single motherhood that we can’t see in the beginning is this:
It’s a gift. A chance to radically change our lives for the better. An opportunity to look at our past with wiser eyes, learn from our mistakes, and make wiser—more strategic—choices for our future.
We can’t do a thing about our past. But, God can by healing us from it so that He can redirect us back to the path He planned all along.
He forgives it. He forgets it. And, He wants to redeem it.
It’s our job to do the hard work of regaining our trust in ourselves and our decision making so that we can boldly choose to trust His lead and follow it.