Let me start off by saying, I’ve prayed repeatedly for the right words to say in this particular post, and by no means will I pretend to have figured this thing out, but the words that follow are what I believe the Lord has given me to say… That being said, my sole desire is to speak truth that hopefully encourages your soul: because Single mamas deserve my best and most prayerful effort- you are valuable warriors. I pray these words add weapons to your arsenal that enable you to keep up the good fight.
The Lord’s timing in all things continuously leaves me speechless. As I prepared to release this blog last week, wouldn’t you know that the Lord gave me a timely opportunity to “relive” although just a glimpse of what it feels like to be a single mom again, as my husband went out of the country for a week and we had little contact. Let me just say: I’m freshly amazed at the daily grace that was required of the Lord as He carried me through single motherhood. No sooner had my husband gotten on a plane to leave the country than did my son and I both awake with killer sore throats- knowing the demands of the week, I decided it was best we both stay home that day and load up on vitamins and rest if we wanted to survive this week. The next morning, I woke up with the worst migraine I’ve had to date in my entire life, and I’ve had some bad ones: I puked three times in twenty minutes. It rained all week. The new puppy needed at least 3 always untimely baths, doctors bills rolled in, etc. etc. etc. I was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted: and I was trying to keep the house together for my husband’s surprise birthday at the end of the week. (Which I recognize is a beacon of hope that many single moms would love to have at the end of a week like this…) But the reality is, that used to be the life I lived year after year, without the certainty of relief from my husband at the end of a few days. (And as a necessary side note: Please see the last point of my blog: Marriage is not our savior. Jesus IS. There may be a man in your future, and if so, the right one from God is SO worth waiting for! BUT DON’T settle. Even the man God has for you will take intentional loving and forgiving, and they AREN’T all as awesome him.) I digress, so as I walked through last week, I asked myself with fresh perspective, “How would I receive the words in my blog if someone told me those things in my current situation…” That was my filter for what I’ve written. And frankly, my first thought would be: “umm yeah, easier said than done. Like you even begin to understand what I am going through…” But I assure you, these are things that the Lord gave me as answers in midst of my own life as I learned to navigate through life as a single mom.
So I say all of that, to say this to you: these words are not flippantly thrown down by someone who is now too removed from the realities of single motherhood. I still have a DEEP appreciation and reverence for the loads that you are bearing, and these words are meant in gentleness, simply to share truths that the Lord engraved upon my heart to carry me through one of the most challenging seasons of my life. So without further ado…
The Top 10 Lessons that Single Motherhood taught me:
1. You are stronger when you ask for help.
It will take humility, and it will take courage, but when it’s necessary, it’s a noble thing to ask for help. It is the BEST thing you can do for yourself and your child. Knowing your limits is wisdom, not weakness. It’s humanity. You are a Superhero of the greatest kind, but you are not an immortal one without limitations. You are human. Be willing to humbly ask for help when you need to do so, knowing that it will make you stronger as an individual and as a mom. And then rest with gratitude as God provides His grace in a thousand different ways. Because He will, and it is always sufficient to see you through the moment, no matter how tough those moments are…
2. You need community.
For YOU. Yes, you are selfless mama, but you need loving encouragement and support. You need to be reminded that in addition to being a mama, you are a woman. Many moms are selfless to a fault. The Lord has designed you as a woman first and foremost. And as His child, the need for Godly community and fellowship with other believing women is all over scripture. It’s for every believer: especially You. Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Find a group of strong Godly women. If you don’t know where to look, pray that God will show you. (Or ask me and I will help you find one!)
3. You have to care for your own soul.
Remember the acronym: H.A.L.T. If you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (in other words breathing, right?), but really, if you are there, you need to take a step back and recognize your needs and care for yourself too. You will not love your child well or make good decisions in those moments of need, knowing that makes you wise, not selfish. The best thing you can do for your child is to care for yourself well. Ask the Lord to teach you how to step back. How to lean into Him in those moments. How to take a timeout and gather yourself. How to prioritize the care for your own soul. Your child is only as emotionally and spiritually healthy as you are…
4. When you feel like you desperately need #2 (Community) and #3 (Care for your own soul), but they just seem impossible to get (because they will ) See #1:
You HAVE to learn to be okay with needing the HELP of others. And you can’t be afraid to ASK. The Lord designed the Body of Christ for a reason. See Acts 2:42-47. He intends for us to pull together and help each other out. The whole body benefits when we serve one another. The Lord knows your needs, but prayerfully remind Him of His promises to care for you (for your own sake), and then trust Him to provide the helping hands you need. Through the process I guarantee He’s equipping you to one day be able to meet the needs of others…
5. Keep Dreaming.
Don’t believe the lie that being a single mom is a limitation. And don’t let others’ opinions or their foreseen limitations steer your decisions. BUT DO, submit your dreams to the Lord: Nothing shall be impossible with Him.
6. Make decisions out of Faith, not Fear.
TRUST HIM to be Enough. Ask yourself whether there are any fears that could be motivating your choices? I’m convinced a lot of poor decisions are made when we trust our fears over our faith in Him. I’ve lived both. Choose Faith. Fear is a thief.
7. Cherish the moments as a Single Mama
I know they are exhausting. Let me repeat: THE MOMENTS ARE EXHAUSTING. But put aside whatever else you must to be sure that you don’t miss the fact that these moments with your children are also rare and precious and fleeting. Don’t wish them away. Pause in the midst of the chaos of the day, and soak in your blessings. The bond my son and I have now was forged in those moments; when all we had was each other and Jesus. And the more he grows, the more and more I am grateful that God didn’t let me “check out” during the little moments.
8. It’s okay to cry in front of your children.
I’m NOT recommending that you do the all out wailing, ugly cry. OR that you repeatedly only allow them to see you crying. (BY ALL MEANS- MAKE SURE THEY SEE YOU LAUGH). But it is okay to have a tough moment and to be completely exhausted and to shed some tears in their presence. Turn it into a lesson for your kids; that You need God to make your heart well, too. As much as you want to be their unshakable hero, that’s not realistic, and frankly, that’s not your role. They need to be pointed to Jesus as the Unshakeable One, not you. As much as you want to always be there for them, you are not omnipresent (present everywhere)- that role has been reserved for God alone. And p.s. If your kids have ever seen you having a tough day, I bet you’ll agree with me that children have the most tender hearts on the planets, and a God-given gift for cheering up a Mommy who just needs a little extra love. Grow together through this time…
9. PRAY. About everything. For everything. All of the time.
If you don’t have it and you NEED it. Pray. If you don’t get it right away, pray some more. Walk with the Lord. He knows your needs and He promises to meet them when you’ve placed your hope in Him. In some moments it is going to seem impossible to keep going. Turn to Him in prayer in that moment. I’ve been there, more times than I can count. And in His Grace, He provided the ability to endure. And after you pray, set your mind to believe that He’s taken care of it. Believe it so much that you thank Him for it. And then keep putting one foot in front of the other. Every mountain is climbed one step at a time. (Philippians 4:6-7)
10. Don’t compare your life to those around you. Discover You. You are beautiful. You are valuable to God. You are worth waiting for. MARRIAGE IS NOT YOUR SAVIOR, Jesus is…You are worthy of true Love. You are strong. You are courageous. You have the ability to face whatever lies ahead, in Christ Alone, but nevertheless, you HAVE it. You have an unshakeable Hope (It’s Christ). You have a Future. You’ve been entrusted with the hardest role on the planet, and God wants to give you everything you need to fulfill it. His plans are so much bigger than you can see today, and He’s already gone before you…
You are NOT ALONE.