In 2001, I was just two years into my career and I became a single mom. I had no (positive) role models for single parenthood. I just knew it would be different than parenting in a two-parent household. It would be harder!
I had no idea what the blueprint was for a single mom who was a working professional with a successful career, able to prioritize her own personal well-being and have a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted child in a loving home.
Who was that??
Could that be me?
I didn’t think so.
I found myself in a pretty dark place, often enough that it scared me. I found a church that accepted me as I was in all my mess… with no judgment. I began to read the bible more intensely.
Then I stumbled upon Hagar in the book of Genesis.
Hagar was Sarai’s servant and she had sex with Abram at Sarai’s direction. After laying with Abram she became pregnant. Hagar then began to despise Sarai and Sarai retaliated for the disrespect.
Hagar ran away from Sarai and found herself alone near a spring in the desert. There she had an encounter with the angel of the Lord and in response, Hagar said… “You are the God who sees me. I have now been seen by the One who sees me.” Hagar went back to Sarai, but several years later Hagar was sent away with her son Ishmael when he was about 8 years old.
Upon reading that for the first time, I had several revelations:
- God sees her… and he sees me! He knows my pain. He knows my struggle.
There was such comfort in knowing that!
- The moment that Hagar was sent away with her son, she became the first single mom known by name in the Bible!
How amazing is that! There is a place for single moms like me in the Bible and in God’s house! Hagar became my role model! Not because of who she is or what she had done, but because of how God treated her. God provided for her and Ishmael while she was in the desert. God told her not to be afraid and that he would be with Ishmael.
If He did it for her, I was certain He’d do the same for me and my son! I knew then that all I had to do was trust God… and so I did.
There were many difficult times that followed (and continue today), but I firmly believe that God is on my side. He has been the best co-parent possible to raise my son. Despite the paycheck to paycheck living, or the many arguments with my ex-husband about parenting my son, God blessed me!
He filled the gaps created by my shortcoming as an exhausted first time mother, with limited resources; and the gaps created by my ex-husband.
During the darkness, God would send me little signs when things were particularly rough. I became attuned to recognize them as messages from Him. It wasn’t like I could audibly here Him, but these signs gave me the encouragement I needed that day, to push through to the next.
Sometimes it was my son coming to hug me when I was hiding in the closet crying in despair. Or a beautiful butterfly fluttering in my eyesight and suddenly landing on a flower. Or a rainbow after a rain shower. These were signs I took as personal love notes from God! Reminders that He was always right there with me.
If you find yourself in the single mom’s club, here are a few things I would like to share with you:
- Forgive yourself for your current situation or life circumstance. Know that if you have confessed it with your mouth that the Lord has forgiven you for whatever part (if any) you played in the situation. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… (Romans 8:1)
- Find other single moms that are CRUSHING IT!! Being a parent is hard! Being a single mom is harder. Find a support system of single moms to do life with; single moms who can encourage you and uplift you as you raise your child.
If you have been a single mom for a few years and you’ve got a handle on it, extend yourself to a mom who may need some support. It’s not easy to ask for help!
- If your child’s father is still around and not quite measuring up to the standard of a father you wish for your child, then ask God to fill the gap. (You should ask Him to do that regardless.) Then, somehow find it within yourself to accept the fact that your child’s father is doing the best he can do. Sure, his best may not be your best…or anybody’s “best” when measured against any standard, but the point is, you can only ask someone to do their best! There is no logical reason he wouldn’t give your child his best. Right? If you can get it in your mind, that what he is doing is just his best, then maybe you can train yourself to let the other stuff fall by the wayside.
This takes years of practice, but it is quite liberating when you begin to master this skill. Try it… try these three steps and let me know how you are doing!