The Gift of Leaving it Behind with Grace


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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  1. This is wonderful Laura!! All too often the children are put in the middle of this world of divorce and bitterness. I only pray that more parents going through divorce could follow your example.

    Blessings, Jana

  2. Hi Laura, nice to meet you on this link up. Great blog post! I’m a single mom, and one of my most often prayed prayers is: God, I need wisdom. Lots and lots of wisdom! It’s so important we don’t allow bitterness to take root anywhere in our lives. Thanks for sharing!

  3. “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.” This is such a valuable truth that all parents need to strive toward! Raising my hand as a child from a broken home and over 20 years later I would love to see this lived out by my parents. Always a joy to read your heart Laura!

  4. Praying for a mighty spiritual intervention. Because while I continue to choose to take this road of unearned grace with my ex, it is in the face of constant critisism, put downs and blame shifting from his side. Often, right in front of our child. I will ask my 4 year old, very casually, if daddy was in a good mood, or said anything about mommy after his days with him, not to pump him for information, but to get a thermometer on how much of his unresolved anger, that I know is bubbling under the surface, he’s exposing our son to. Most of the time, the feedback indicates he’s trying to be a good dad, but every once in a while it comes up that Daddy said [I] was mean or that Daddy said [I] treated him [son] like a baby…etc. I try to tell my son that just like him, sometimes Daddy doesn’t handle his anger very well and that it’s never ok for him to say mean things about Mommy- just like it’s not ok for him to hit people when he’s mad. I also ask him if he’s heard me say anything mean about Daddy, just to check myself. It’s so hard, because while I know fully the kind of damage my ex can do to a phsyche…I don’t have legal evidence to keep him away from his son and I have the hope that he will overcome his anger toward me to be a good dad. So I work hard to build resiliancy skills in my young child so he can have the tools to handle what his father (and really the whole fallen world) will almost inevitably dish out…barring the major intervention I mentioned prayer for above. I have recebtly been blessed by a measure of spiritual intervention in that God directed me to a wonderfully supportive man to be a rock during the more difficult episodes and to be a good example for my son- and for that I am eternally grateful.

  5. Jennifer, My heart aches for you. I know the feelings you describe very well. I struggle with the same at times, as do many single moms in our same situation. Can I just tell you that you are doing the right thing by taking the high road, even though that road often feels impossible. In my own situation, I feel like time will ease my ex’s pain and he’ll see that making the children the focus is best for everyone. I grew up through a terrible divorce and know how painful it can be for one parent to speak badly of another. Just remember that you are not alone in raising your son. God is with you along this path and can protect his heart as well. Thank you for sharing your story. I pray that God bless you and give you His peace. <3

  6. Laura, beautiful post today on #livefree leave it behind! Your words will inspire many. Have a great weekend! Kim #livefree

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