Do you like roller coasters?
My kids LOVE roller coasters! Three years ago when my daughter was only six, we went to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. We stood in line waiting for the Powder Keg. As we got closer, my daughter decided she didn’t want to ride. I coaxed her onto the ride, assuring her that she had ridden rides much more exteme than this one. She reluctantly got on. What I did not know was that this particular ride goes from 0 to 55 mph…in about three seconds!
As we shot away from the gate and began to twist and loop, I just knew I had scarred my daughter for life! I instinctively reached over and grabbed her leg. The look of sheer terror on her face told the entire story.
Then, something happened. A smile began to form on her face, and the laughter erupted from deep within her. By the end of the ride, she was yelling, “YEAH! Let’s go again!! That was AWESOME!”
And that’s how an adrenaline junkie was born.
It’s true. I have taught my children to love roller coasters. It started as a way to encourage them to face their fears—to feel that sense of turmoil in their stomachs and yet still be willing to act. I never want them paralyzed by fear. So, if roller coasters will teach my children to face their fears in a small way, then I am all for allowing them to ride.
I must admit, though, that I—personally—am not a huge fan of roller coasters. I have a bad neck (convenient excuse, eh?), so I often stand on the ground and watch. I also pray while my kids are on the coasters—pray without ceasing that nothing will go wrong with the ride. Ultimately, my kids are in God’s hands, and He is more than able to protect them while they take this calculated risk.
There’s one roller coaster ride that sticks out in my mind, however. It started in 2008 and, to some extent, continues today. The loops and twists and turns are less violent, but the ride continues nonetheless. You see, in the early days of my separation and divorce, I was strapped into a roller coaster that I never asked to ride—much like I put my daughter on that day in 2011.
The ride shot out of the gate with my husband’s confession of infidelity. I was immediately catapulted into a twisting and tearing of my inner soul as the anger and fear rose up within me. Within days, I felt my Savior’s hand reach out and grab my leg, reassuring me that He was with me on the ride. I allowed God to soften my spirit, to determine that forgiveness would be extended. Day by day, I was jolted by deep-seated grief and resentment. I began to doubt myself and my value.
It was almost a year after the initial revelation of adultery that I finally made the decision to walk away from my marriage. It was then that I discovered he had not only continued his affair, but he was also actively dating women he was meeting on an online dating site. As I filed for divorce and asked him to leave, I found myself sitting in my front yard laughing hysterically! I was free! God had chosen to set me free from my prison!
The exhilaration was short-lived, however. As divorce proceedings began, I found myself alternating between so many emotions: anger, excitement, fear, grief, anxiety. I tried to cling to the Father, but I was all over the place, twisting and turning, flipping and flying. I begged God daily to stop the ride—to let me off this never-ending roller coaster.
While the roller coaster didn’t stop—even when the divorce was final—God continued to hold onto my leg, giving me the calm reassurance that He was with me through every drop and loop. As the years have passed, I’ve even found myself laughing and enjoying the ride! I’ve seen how God has used this ride to make me stronger, to teach me to face my fears. I’ve become a fan of the trials of this life because of how they have refined me into Christ’s image. I no longer fear trials because I know that God will be with me to see me through.
Over the past five years as a single mom, I’ve been blessed to participate in the Single Mom Survive and Thrive Conference in Oklahoma City. Pam Kanaly, co-founder of Arise Ministries, has a heart for single moms. She and her team always put together an amazing two-day event where we single moms are loved on, encouraged, and reminded that we are not alone. We have the opportunity to attend sessions where we can learn more about raising godly children, managing our finances, walking in forgiveness. Pam knows exactly what topics single moms need.
How does Pam know? Because Pam rode the never-ending roller coaster of single-motherhood, too. She has walked in my shoes. She knows the hurt and the pain, the fear and the exhaustion. She knows what it’s like to feel as if you can’t possibly make it on your own for another day. She knows what it’s like to face the bitterness of betrayal. She knows what it’s like to wonder if your kids will be ok.
Even better, Pam knows that when we surrender to God, He will take the most bitter of trials and create a ministry bigger than our wildest imagination! She knows that God delights in taking our brokenness and using it for His glory!
Pam has now taken her experiences and wisdom and put it into a book, The Single Mom and her Roller Coaster Emotions. If you are single mom or know a single mom, I encourage you to pick up Pam’s book and draw from her experiences, her wisdom, her heart, and her passion. It really is possible to get off the roller coaster of emotions—or even learn to enjoy the ride!
And remember, God is always in the car with you!