There are a lot of things I wish I had known when I was a single mom years ago. And there are a few I wish I had remembered.
These things, though, aren't just for single moms. They are for anyone going through a difficult time. For me, single parenthood was just the icing on top of many other trials that had piled up in this thing called "my life".
You need a little encouragement today...
Your walking through a valley or climbing a mountain...
Chains are binding you, or the road ahead seems daunting...
Pain is swallowing you up, or if hope seems fading...
Your wounds are deep, or if you feel lost....
...then this is for YOU...
I hadn't been to church in ages, except on holidays. And God? He didn't feel very close by. If I'm being brutally honest, I was angry with Him. I had been for years. I had deep wounds; layers I buried beneath more layers. And I had put God under them all.
That is where I was at when in a single day I was left sole caretaker of my two young children.
Physically, emotionally, financially.
Being thrown into single parenthood in a single day only added to the multitude of hurt, anxiety, anger, and hopelessness that already overwhelmed me.
But despite all of the layers of "mess" in my heart, I felt a nudge. An urge to try attending church. There was something deep inside that kept saying despite my anger with God, maybe I actually needed Him to get through this.
Desperate to just be able to breathe, I chose one Sunday morning to get the kids ready and go to a local church I heard great things about.
And I actually went.
I don't remember much of that service. I couldn't tell you what that sermon was about or what songs were sung. I do, however, remember what happened after...
Have you ever had a pair?
Well that is what I was wearing that Sunday. And after leaving the service, I took a route down the back (empty) stairwell. I was holding my three-year-old daughter's hand and carrying my baby boy in my arms...
And I misstepped.
My foot then slipped off of the side of my clogs. I let go of my daughter's hand and fell. All the way down the stairs. Cradling my son's head so he wouldn't get injured; taking the brunt of the fall.
There I was in that stairway...alone.
I wanted to cry.
No, I wanted to sob. From every type of pain I was feeling.
But I couldn't. And didn't.
Instead, I got up and put on the mask I knew so well. A mask I had worn long before I stepped into that church. A mask that showed a girl who was just fine.
But I wasn't.
I was bruised.
My pants were torn at the knees and I was bleeding.
Every part of me hurt.
And I am not just talking about my physical self and appearance.
I gathered my children close and walked out of that church tattered, bruised and bleeding. Just like I had walked in.
I walked out, didn't look back, and never returned.
He is so good! (with tears in my eyes I exclaim this)
He didn't give up on me. He didn't let a fall end his pursuing of me. He didn't care how tattered I was, how much "stuff" was oozing from my heart, how many bruises I wore that had become a wall to keep Him and everyone else out. He loved me anyway.
And He didn't stop calling me until the day I was ready to listen to what He had to say.
I'd like to say that time came soon. But it didn't. And its all the more reason I love my faithful Father.
We all have fallen.
We all have bruises.
Some of us are more tattered than others.
We all have pain.
We all have hearts that bleed.
And many of us put up walls around those hearts.
My hope is whoever reads this today, whoever is a little tattered, bruised and bleeding from any kind of "fall" like I was - is ready to listen.
Ready to hear the things I wish I had known.
What I wish I had heard.
What I wish I had been told.
I have prayed that the following words stir your heart to embrace them and if you already know them....to remember and stand firm in them.
5 Things I wish I had known
1. Trust God
The heaviest chain I ever wore was one of self-reliance.
I relied on me for strength, for peace, to build up walls to keep any more hurt out.
I relied on me to provide food, a roof, clothing for my children.
I relied on me to be their champion and my own.
I relied on me to fix whatever needed "fixing".
I relied on myself to hold up our little family.
Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I failed. But every night and every day the weight was heavy upon my shoulders.
Our God is a God who provides. Provides comfort, peace, joy, strength and our most basic needs. And He provides these far greater than we will ever do ourselves.
Those difficult times still would not have been easy (and we aren't guaranteed a life without trials-John 16:33), but they could have been faced with the sweet release of such a heavy burden - had I just trusted in the Lord instead. Had I only cast my fears and worries on Him, instead of solely relying on myself, how much lighter the journey would have been! What freedom I could have found from that heavy chain!
My friend, if your in a hard place, a struggle, a difficult season...reach out to Him.
Trust Him. Let Him provide.
It will not make the struggle disappear, but He WILL strengthen you. He WILL give you comfort and peace. He will ease the burden and lighten your load.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
"Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you." Psalm 84:12
2. I do not need to be the warrior
Need Jesus? I thought I didn't need anyone but me. Or so I told myself. I don't think I ever truly believed it. But I pretended to. Fed myself that delusion that I didn't need anyone. Even God.
I was my own warrior.
I would stand up and fight my own fights, I would use my own strength, my own skills and determination.
One of the greatest lessons the Lord has taught me, is that I don't have to be the warrior anymore. Why? Because He will fight for me.
Now that doesn't mean I don't have work to do, that I don't need to move, or that I do not have to prepare myself at all for battle.
But it does mean that the battle isn't mine.
It does mean that the giants before are for Him to face head on and destroy.
It does mean that I stand behind His mighty shield instead of in front of it.
It does mean the victory is already His.
He is fighting battles I do not know even exist. He battles the seen and unseen and no matter what type of warrior I think I am, I certainly can not fight what I can't see or know exists. And I can't have the type of victory that is only accomplished when God is the warrior and not me.
Because Jesus has overcome the world. And not one of us has or will ever do that. But we can be part of the victory when we stand behind God's shield and let Him be the warrior in the front line.
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14.
"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves." Zephaniah 3:17
3. He Redeems
The world will tell us we are not enough. That we are too broken. Unredeemable.
I stayed tattered and bruised for too long. For many reasons, but one of them is because I believed I was too broken. I believed the lie that had been told to me over and over again that I was not enough.
But here is the truth I want all of us to not only hear each and every day, but stand firm in:
There is nothing we have done or will ever do that He can not redeem us from, cleanse us from, forgive us for if we are repentant. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. And each one of us is enough that Christ died for us.
We are not too broken.
And through Christ, we are MORE than enough.
"and all are justified freely by his grace throught the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:24.
Cry out to Jesus.
I spent years creating a formittable dam to keep every tear in. What I created was not a wellspring of strength, but rather rather a cold, damp place where I felt nothing.
There is an explainable sweet release when we cry out to our Heavenly Father. We have a choice to keep the pain bandaged under layers of our own "doctoring" or we can uncover with a cry out to Him. The baring of our soul to Him, is an open wound that lays available for Him to begin healing.
Don't wait another day to cry out to Him.
"Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress." Psalm 107:6
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3
5. I am not alone
Back then, I didn't know what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. I had never even heard of that. It is no surprise then, that in these most difficult times, I felt alone. Even though I was not.
I can look back now and see the numerous ways God was working in my life all those years ago. But, now, as I cling to Jesus in trials of the present, it is bitter sweet, as I feel the beautiful embrace of my Redeemer that was available to me then but that I could not see.
So, if today, you are feeling like you are walking through this difficulty by yourself...may I just say...Jesus never leaves your side. He will lift you and carry you through this. Just call out His name. He is a forever friend.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10.
....And a few things I wish I had remembered
1. God is good
This seems like such a simple statement, but oh, how I forgot this so easily! I now see how He took these hurtful things and has worked them for good! I see the lessons I needed to learn in order to grow and become who I am today. I see His beautiful faithfulness. And I know that even in the shadows of those trials, His love shined upon me. We will not always know or understand His plans or His ultimate purpose, but we can remember that through it all, God is still good.
"The Lord is good to all, and his mercies are over all His works." Psalm 145:9
"For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving kindness to all who call upon You." Psalm 86:5
2. I am loved.
Perhaps you're feeling like I did, how could He love me in spite of my mistakes? How could He love me when all these painful things have happened in my life? How could He love me when I called out to Him and there was no answer?
Fear. Lies. Heartache. These 3 things made me forget this simple truth:
Jesus died for me.
And He died for you. What greater love is there than this?
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
3. He can do the impossible
I forgot just how big our God is.
When the mountains in front of me seemed insurmountable and I felt as though I would crumble, I wish I would have held on to the truth that nothing is impossible with God. If the mightiness of his hand had been brought to my mind in each impossible moment, if I had known he shut the mouths of lions, if I had remembered He overcame the world, if I had believed He has moved mountains, if I had remembered He is a God of impossible possibilities, I just may have had hope that my seemingly high mountain was not impassable at all. That to Him, it was a seed easily scattered in the wind.
If I had remembered how big our God is, I would have had hope in days that sometimes seemed hopeless.
"For with God nothing will be impossible." Luke 1:37
4. He hears us
For a long time I forgot that God hears our call, my call. That there is NOTHING He does not hear.
So remember, your cries are not unheard. Let Him hear them. He can handle every tear, every lament, every question.
They fall on the almighty ears of the One who loves you, who is good, and who can do the impossible.
"You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry." Psalm 10:17.
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." 1 John 5:14.
You may not be a single mom, but there are a thousand other reasons that we can feel alone, broken, abandoned, overwhelmed, discouraged, tattered, or bruised....
Today, embrace the unchanging fact that God does LOVE YOU. In an ever-changing world His care for you remains the same.
Step towards Him; lean into and cling to Him.
Trust in Him to provide all you need.
Let Him, the one who redeems you, fight for you.
Remember He is good, and loving and that with Him nothing is impossible!
Cry out to Him, for you are not alone and He hears you.
It is in these truths that we grow towards a peace we never thought possible.
Read more on these truths in God's Word. Below I have listed several verses that relate to the above "5 things". I encourage you to dig deeper in these encouraging truths:
Psalm 37:5Philippians 4:6-7
When the storm is raging, we call out to God from the depths of the deep we are drowning in .
We cry out. We ask Him to take the wheel of the vessel of our lives that is about to capsize from the waves crashing over it.
We let go of the wheel and step aside for Him to captain us through these rough waters in the dark of night.
But what do we do when the waters are still?
When our lives are calm for a time, like glass on a lake?
Do we forget to continue to call out to Him? Do we remember He brought us to this still place?
Do we turn once again to ourselves and the world to navigate our lives until the waves rage again?
Or in the stillness, do we continue to let Him lead us, to stay captain of the ship?
Do we give Him praise for not just getting us through the storm but for sailing us through blue skies.
Do we trust Him in and let Him take the wheel in whatever horizon He plans on leading us too?
Let us not just ask Him to be captain of the storm, but to ask Him to be the permanent captain of our vessel, through every day, even the still ones.
Wife. Mother. Writer. Photographer. Child of God. Encouraging others in faith through a lens of grace and seeing beauty in the ashes.
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