Faith, Grace, Hope, parenting

The Life of a Single Parent


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.

20 thoughts on “The Life of a Single Parent”

  1. I resonated with the story of the broken shells. My divorce was not quite finalized and I was walking alone on a beach and saw a beautiful seagull flying and I noticed it had a broken wing. God spoke to me and told me I could still soar, although I was absolutely broken.
    Thank you for compiling all those words, I’ve used many of them!

  2. Single parents are heroes for many reasons. Even if the physical work load is the same, the mental and emotional makes managing it all more difficult. There is no exhaustion like it, because there is never a “break” in sight.

    I can say, that when the season of intensive single parenting passes, you will remember the exhaustion, but even more you will remember the joy, pride, providence, miracles and bonding that happen during this time.

    Keep up the great job!

  3. i have seen Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah El Roi and he has renewed my strength on the very low days of my life and soothed my loneliness.

  4. Just a word of encouragement. I have been where you are (with a few differences). After divorce and single-parenthood, God placed a wonderful man in my life and we just celebrated our 19th anniversary. I am to the point now where it seems all that “yucky” stuff from the past never really happened or is at least way out there in the distance, almost like a mirage. God is so good to diminish some things in our past so that we can barely see/remember them. So, I know that one day God will bring you to that place as well. God bless you and your soon to be blended family!

    1. He is good! I am within a couple months of remarriage, and look forward to the day when all things are truly made new. God is so good, so faithful. Thanks for sharing your testimony!

  5. Great post Dena,

    I know some single parents. They have a hard life.They can not live with full potential, because they working a lot.They try to earn money for their children and to give them extra love .Keep it going with great work and I wish you the best

  6. Beautifully written! Single parenting has made me deepen my relationship with God because I know I just CAN’T do it all… and I have to remember in this season…. I am exactly where God need me to be… reliant on Him, seeking Him, and knowing how much I truly NEED Him. I don’t have any choice – this job is too big for me – and whenever I feel like I’m not enough, I’m reminded that is exactly when God can do His best work. When I surrender the reins and my plans and all my desires for perfectionism at His feet… knowing His plans are greater than mine and that we are made perfect THROUGH HIM and in Him. Oh boy – it was perfect timing that I ran across your post today. Thank you!

    1. Yea! Love when God uses my words to bless others! And how I love your own testimony! My daily prayer is that Christ will live through me in every area of life. I don’t want to live this life; I want Him to live through me.

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