Oh the turns the life path takes!
Moms raising their children alone didn’t see the drastic dip and curve coming. Some discovered they were pregnant without a husband or even a committed partner. Others suffer through unwanted divorces. Still others escape from abusive relationships. Some lose their husbands in death. In each case, during the time of their seduction, the women didn’t expect the rough road that lay ahead.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
So many resilient women struggle with hard realities: ill children, major and minor disappointments in love, job problems, or no job, or, worse, no job skills. Many live in fear: fear of ex-husbands, fear of losing a job, fear of illness, fear of . . . tomorrow. The road ahead looks too rough to travel.
As the founder of SMORE™ for Women I hear heart-breaking stories from single mothers who are making every effort to hold their homes together. As the head of a household and with limited earning power they continue to move forward and hold their heads high. Many had unhappy childhoods with no examples of a responsible parent. Even simple decisions can become overwhelming, paralyzing for them. Those who do have a family support system still suffer the emotional disappointments of dreams deferred.
I was a divorced mom of three for sixteen years before I remarried. It was a rough road. During those years I learned a few life lessons. I hope that these three will give guidance for your path.
What I Now Know Without a Doubt
- There is power in acceptance.
Acceptance is facing the reality of an undesirable situation. Peter Marshall, a Scottish-American preacher who twice served as Chaplain of the United States Senate once said, “. . . When we long for life without. . . difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” Acceptance doesn’t mean we ignore our feelings, it means we acknowledge them, address them, and advance onward- my triple A for safety on the road.
What are your choices? If you don’t accept what do you do? You can fight it. You can try to fix it. Or you can flow with it. You can let the actions of others trip you up. You can react with anguish, hurt, and anger. You can spend a great deal of energy on blame. As long as you are blaming another, even if justified, you are giving away your power. If, however, you practice acceptance, and it may take lots of practice, you can develop the peace that comes no other way. This will give you the power to move onward.
“No matter how badly we think life has beaten us, we still cling to the idea that acceptance and surrender are a kind of hopeless giving-in, a weakness of character. Not so! Acceptance means simply admitting there are things we cannot change. Accepting them puts an end to our futile struggles and frees our thought and energy to work on things that can be changed. Surrender means relinquishing our self-will and accepting God’s will and His help.”1
- Take it easy on yourself.
Are you blaming yourself for your situation? Do you demand too much of yourself? Do you push yourself past the point of reason? Somewhere along our path we learned to be self-critical. The world we live in supports the notion and we continue on with self-talk that reminds us of every less-than-perfect thing we do. The next time you hear that tape playing in your head hit the pause button, rewind, and erase. You may not be as kind to yourself as you are to others. I have a magnet on the refrigerator that reads, “I reckon there are three things in life that are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.” Of course, you say. But are you kind to yourself? Do you spend alone time to reflect and renew?
After hearing of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, we read in Matthew 14:13, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” Two lessons: Jesus felt sadness at John the Baptist’s death and Jesus took time away for himself.
Luke 5:15But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
It is not a selfish thing to take time for and believe in yourself!
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightening about shrinking so that
other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God
that is within us. It’s not just in some of us;
it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission
to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.”2
- Keep Your Eyes On Jesus
One of my favorite hymns, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” was written by Helen Howarth Lemmel. She was born in England, studied music in Germany, and married a wealthy European. Then when she lost her sight he left her and “she struggled with multiple heartaches during midlife. At age 55, Helen heard a statement that deeply impressed her: ‘So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full into His face and you will find that the things of earth will acquire a strange new dimness.’” When she heard this statement she said, “I stood still, and singing in my soul and spirit was the chorus, with not one conscious moment of putting word to word to make rhyme, or note to note to make melody. The verses were written the same week, after the usual manner of composition, but nonetheless dictated by the Holy Spirit.”3 I liked this song long before my husband left me and before I taught children who were blind. It just has more meaning now that I know the story behind it.
When raising a child or children as a single mom you will need to walk closely with the Spirit. I know no other way than to pull tightly in to Him for strength when my path gets scary. Helen’s words say it best.
O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.4
1. One Day at a Time in Al-Anon (New York: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1983), 76.
2. Nelson Mandela, 1994 Inaugural Speech.
3. Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 283.