If I were to describe my life, my emotional state, over the last few months, exhausted would be the most appropriate word. With three teenagers, a new position in my company, a ministry, my days and evenings are full. I collapse into bed at the end of the day, struggling to get up the next morning.
Add to that a fiancé, a wedding to plan, his two children, trying to find a place to live that will hold five teenagers, and some significant health issues in his family, and I often wonder how we are still standing.
So many days I have awakened, gone outside for a prayer walk, and all I can say to God is, “I’m so tired. Renew my strength.”
And yet I just keep going, wondering when I can take some time to step away, take a deep breath, take time to recharge.
I know exhaustion is a mark of the single mom, of the single parent. But I was curious what word or phrase other single parents would use to describe their lives.
So I asked. Here’s what many of my single parent friends said:
Beloved!!! Unpredictable. Lonely .
Blessed. Busy. Amazing. Miracles. Challenging.
Beautiful chaos. Jehovah Jireh. Resilient. Transforming. Healing.
Empowering. The days are long but the years are short. Callusing.
Adventure. Joy. Tough. Involved. Peaceful. Broken.
Overcomer. #beautifullybroken. Overwhelming. Rewarding.
Grace. Abandoned. Severely broken…beautifully redeemed. Covered with the Lord’s grace
Humbling. [God is] Faithful. Crazy, busy, yet wonderful.
Strengthened by God and thankful for His grace. Valued. Devastated. Fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants.
Reboot. God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Single parenting. It conjures up so many different emotions, thoughts, feelings. But I love that so many of the words and phrases are positive! Can’t you just feel the faith in God growing? Can’t you sense the hope we have for a beautiful future? Can’t you taste the expectation of God moving in our midst, providing for us in such unexpected ways?
Don’t you hear the belief that a God brings beauty from our broken lives?
Single parents are tired. Do you see it in the words and phrases above? Single parents are always on the go, the only one to meet their child’s physical needs. We are the cooks and the maids and the chauffeurs. We are the tutors and the cheering section. We are the providers and the counselors. We are the sole decision makers.
The burden of working to provide for a home and run a home is often overwhelming. We look at our schedules in the morning and wonder how we will ever make it through the day.
And yet somehow we do.
As I was walking and praying earlier this week, I began meditating on Isaiah 40:31: But those who trust (hope, wait) in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. It suddenly struck me that God never said we will never run out of strength. He simply said we will find new strength. I’m asking God to give me the new strength today.
Single parents are dependent on God. Faithful. Miracles. Grace. Single parents have come to the end of themselves and realize they have no choice but to trust God to carry them through.
And then, they find God is more than enough.
We see God step in time and time again, providing for our physical needs. We see God pour out His love through the kindness of friends. We see God working in the lives of our children. We see Him everywhere, all around us, working circumstances for our good and His glory. We see His power at work in us.
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
Single parents are broken. A friend recently told me this story:
A friend was on the beach and her daughter was bringing her shells. My friend told her daughter to stop bringing broken shells and look for whole ones instead. As she waited, God began to speak to her about the shells. She remembered that the shells are often broken as the animal inside outgrows it. She also began to think about all that the shells have to go through just to get to the beach. Wave after wave, storm after storm, fish after fish. Then, once they arrive, they are often missed and stepped on by those not looking for them.
My friend said God revealed to her that each shell was beautifully broken. Each one had a story of survival. God wanted her to see the beauty as her daughter did. In the quest to find perfection, she was missing a lot of beauty and a lesson along the way. In that moment, God told me know that my beauty was not defined in perfection. My beauty is in the survival, in being broken. Now, when I go to the beach, I look for broken shells and I thank God for making me beautifully broken.
Single parents are overcomers. Thrive, not survive! That has been my motto since I became a single mom. God never designed us to live a mediocre, normal life. He called us to a life of adventure and abundance!
Single parents are forced to find ways to overcome. To overcome hurt and pain. To overcome brokenness. To overcome the life they always expected. To overcome so many obstacles stacked against them.
And single parents know it is God in them who gives them the strength to overcome.
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 1 John 4:4
Do you know a single parent? I encourage you to reach out, to offer a word of love and compassion. Offer to meet a physical need, mowing the yard or buying coats for her kids. I encourage you to see him/her as the amazing individual God is molding into His image.