I was recently asked to write something about the guilt I have experienced as a single mom. I’m quite certain that I waxed eloquent about the guilt of divorce and how I have struggled to overcome the fears and doubts that I threw in the towel too early—before God had enough time to work on my now ex-husband’s heart. And, every word was completely true.
But, for the last few weeks I have been asking God to reveal to me any area in which I am not completely pleasing to Him. I have given Him permission to let His word—His living and active word—pierce my heart to the division of joint and marrow. I have laid myself at His feet begging Him to take me deeper, to penetrate my heart with His truth. I want to be totally and completely yielded to Him—holding absolutely nothing back!
I knew two things when I began praying this way:
1. God ALWAYS answers this type of prayer.
2. It is never easy to hear what God has to say.
And, apparently today He has begun to answer.
As I was driving home from church alone tonight, I was thinking—for no apparent reason—about the sweet little piece I had written on guilt. Suddenly, I realized there was so much more guilt that perhaps I had chosen just to sweep under the rug. Yes, there is the guilt of divorce—breaking the covenant I made before God and man. But, that guilt is also fairly easy for me to deal with since I had biblical grounds for divorce. I truly believe God gave me permission to walk away from my marriage.
But, I carry a tremendous load of guilt now that I have never dealt with. And, there is more guilt added to it each and every day. I came home from church and found myself pouring out my heart on this guilt—the guilt of not being able to be the mom I always wanted to be. I was a stay-at-home mom for nearly ten years, attending every school activity, coaching soccer teams, and being a regular June Cleaver. That all changed when I got divorced.
Even while I was married, I was a single parent in many ways. I carried the burden for the home and the children—as well as every other area of life. But, I did not work outside the home. When I got divorced, it was a fairly easy transition because I was already used to carrying the bulk of the load. The only additional title I had to pick up was that of “breadwinner.”
Yes, adding a full-time job to my list of responsibilities is a huge change, but the kids and I have adapted very well. At least that’s what I thought until tonight.
As I sat down to write some additional thoughts on guilt, the tears—sobbing really—began to flow. I recounted the many times I’ve had to miss awards banquets and ball games and school parties and field trips. I thought of the less-than-nutritious meals I’ve served over the last four years. I talked about the much-anticipated church youth activities my kids have missed. I mourned the many weekend activities my kids have never been able to participate in because they are gone every other weekend.
I’ve thought about all of these things over the years, but I think I have intentionally chosen to push them down because I don’t have the time or energy to deal with the guilt—much like I don’t have the time or the energy to do so many other things. God doesn’t approve of us stuffing things deep down inside, and apparently my prayers have been the opening He is looking for to deal with my guilt.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to do some public speaking and teaching over the years. I always feel so insecure in those opportunities, but I’ve always felt that the insecurity was such a blessing! You see, when I feel insecure and uncertain, I run to my Rock! I pray fervently that God will give me the words. I seek His face and what He would have me to say. He has never failed me!
Unfortunately, I am beginning to see that because I was already single-parenting before my divorce, I felt strong and confident. I entered this season of my life certain that I could handle it on my own. I was determined that my children and I would not only survive—we would thrive! Although this type of attitude is praised in our culture, I am beginning to see the problem. I felt strong and confident. I could handle it on my own. I was determined. You see, life is not about me. There has been way too much of me in the last four years. I have done way too much of the parenting of my children.
As I poured out the truth about my guilt on paper, God began to show me that I have truly been solo parenting—and that is not what He called me to do. He called me to let Him parent through me. He has promised to be a Father to my fatherless children. He has promised to be strong in my weakness. But, I haven’t been willing to admit any weakness on my part.
I have recently been wondering why I can’t get my kids to grow spiritually. Truthfully, that’s not my job. Yes, I am to plant seeds of truth. I am to water the seeds each and every day. I am to live my life in such a way that I model Christ-likeness so that they desire to follow me as I follow Christ. But, I can’t make them love God. I can’t make them hunger and thirst for righteousness. I can’t make them seek Him with all their heart. That is God’s job.
Right now, I am admitting weakness. I do not know how to parent my children the way God wants me to. Yes, I could continue to do what I am doing, and I have no doubt that my children would be well-adjusted, responsible adults one day. But, that’s not enough for me. I want so much more for my children! I want my children to be world-changers—totally sold out, single-minded, fully devoted followers of my Lord Jesus Christ who make a HUGE impact for the Kingdom! BUT I DON’T HAVE ANY IDEA HOW TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.
As I bow before the Savior, I humbly admit that I am lost. I do not know what I am doing in raising these precious children He has placed in my care. I want nothing more than for Him to step in, to take over the parenting. I cannot do it on my own, and I don’t want to. I want His best. I want His strength to be made perfect in my weakness! Therefore, I GIVE UP!!
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9