Being married only three weeks, I’m not so far into it that I can’t remember the aspect of being a single parent. Not just a single parent, but a Christian single parent. Not just a church going “I believe in God” Christian, but a Christian who sincerely wanted to use her life to follow Christ, live an exemplified life, and point to the Lord in everything. This situation was unique and there are more parents out there still in the very same situation. I don’t want to get too far from it before I put down some thoughts on being a Christian single parent in this society. I’m not interested in laying out how hard it was: 1) because if you’re in a similar situation, I don’t have to tell you or 2) even if you aren’t a single parent, you easily understand the challenges we face. No, what I want to do is to share some aspects that I hope will challenge and encourage either single parents or those who are close to them.
- It is what it is. American society today promotes single parenting. You read about celebrities who choose to become single parents and are praised for it. There are “reality” shows depicting single mothers. We’re often portrayed as either victims or praised for our independence. On the opposite end, in some churches, single parenthood is either seen as shameful, or a charity case. I never identified with either. I only saw myself as Isaac’s mom. I felt neither prideful nor ashamed. It was just circumstance I found myself in.
- We’re not victims. Maybe a tough situation put us into raising children by ourselves. There were situations that were beyond my control that led to me being alone in raising Isaac, but there was still disobedience and sin in my life that led to those circumstances. In order for me to live a life glorifying to God, I first had to acknowledge, and repent of my past sins.
- The right choice isn’t always the easy one. If we are to live a life that shines a light to both our children and the world. It is important to hold ourselves to God’s standards of living even when otherwise the world says it is okay for us to not. Being single is hard, children or not, but the difference is that we have the privilege and duty to creating a loving and stable home for our children. I had to set down rules for myself before I needed them and resolved myself to hold to them in order that I was protected from getting into another wrong situation or exposing my son to unwanted, constant relationships. I not only set boundaries for friendships, but also for whom I allowed in my heart or my home. This is so hard, but I can tell you that if you ask the Lord to protect you, He will time and time again even when it requires heartache. Give your relationships over to the Lord, remembering that He is the one that loves you most.
- You are the parent. When Isaac was barely a toddler, I had to not only deal with my ex-husband, but doctors, and others who had opinions. I felt almost pushed around by waves of advice, opinions, or responsibilities and allowed it to confuse me. God stepped in during that time and reminded me that in spite of my fears that I was Isaac’s parent. It was my responsibility to speak up and stand up for Isaac. Who better than I, after all? If I want Isaac to be raised up a certain way, it was up to me to do it. I couldn’t wait for my situation to change and there were no real excuses. It didn’t mean that I had to do it alone, either. God placed excellent friends and family to help me.
- Single parenting is not a handicap. Okay, there may be limitations, but only as much as we allow them to limit us. God can use anyone in any way He wants. He only wants a willing and trusting heart. What are your heart’s desires in serving God? He is not limited by the fact you’re a single parent. Don’t put Him or you in a box. You have every much a part in His kingdom as any other person. You have every much a place and purpose in His body. Shame is no longer part of your make up; you’re a joint heir with Christ! Go out there, grow, and serve! Lead your children and others by example.
With this, I do not want to give any impression that I’ve got it all together or ever did things perfectly. Those who are close to me know that there were times I didn’t make it look pretty. I just want to counter what the world says about single parenting. I wish it wasn’t the story for so many and I’m praying for you. If marrying is part of your heart’s desire then ask God to send you the man/woman. I’ll be praying in agreement. I didn’t enjoy doing this alone, but time and time again, I saw God’s love and provision in mine and Isaac’s lives. I learned to trust in Him past what I could see. I learned to be obedient to His calling. I learned to go to Him first and rely on Him for all my needs. Are these things that I don’t need being married? Heck, no! I’ve got these things to help me in my marriage. So even in the hardship, even in the blessing, nothing goes wasted. God uses all things, all situations and turns them into His Glory.