By Margaret Mangrum,
image: ennings wire
Being a single mom is hands down one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. I went through nursing school as a single mom after I had my daughter, which was pretty challenging to say the least, but it still doesn’t compare to being a single parent. Being a single parent (and I would say being a parent in general) is a job that never goes away. There is no clocking out, no handing the pager off to someone else for their weekend on call, no calling in sick or using that vacation time you have accrued for an actual vacation. Even though this is not the life I had planned for myself, I would not trade it for anything. I have come to know God in a way I never thought I would and have seen Him do some pretty amazing stuff in my life and my daughter’s life, which would have taken years of therapy and medications otherwise. That being said, I would like to share with you a few things that have helped me in my life as a single mom serving the Lord.
YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER!
I have been a single mom for almost 12 years now. My story is every bit the story of the prodigal son. I was raised in a minister’s home and in my first few years of college I decided to strike out on my own. I came back to the Lord in 2009 after spending about 10 years running from God. I can tell you right now it is a whole lot easier to be a single mom serving God than it is to be one not serving God. There is no price tag you can place on the peace of mind and the security that comes from knowing He is with you.
Recently my pastor, Rev. Carl McLaughlin, preached a phenomenal message entitled, “From a Wound to a Witness.” For years, even after coming back to the Lord, I carried guilt, shame, rejection, depression, and whatever other oppressive feeling you want to throw in there on my shoulders. It felt as if it were an inseparable part of my identity. Over time, layer by layer, God has performed a miraculous healing both in my life and in my mind to the point where I no longer view myself as some sort of rejected person who made a complete mess of her life and doesn’t have a purpose.
In the sermon my pastor preached, he talked about being an overcomer and how the enemy would love for us to stay bound in our wounds because if we are never healed then we will never be a witness. This is where the enemy would love for us to live: going to church but not healed. God’s plan is for you to be healed. It is not God’s plan for you to walk around with a victim mentality, constantly nursing old wounds from your past. If there is anything you glean from this, I want you to know you are an overcomer! You cannot live with the mentality that the enemy has destroyed your life. God has a plan and a purpose for your life, no matter the situation you are in. Let go of the past, forgive and move forward.
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.”
ESTABLISHING A DAILY WALK WITH GOD
One of the hardest things for me in being a single mom is not so much the work that comes with it, but the simple fact there is not another adult to share daily life experiences with. Even though I am blessed to have my parents close by who are very involved in my day to day life, there are times when I wish I could just have someone else to talk to. But the truth is that we do have someone to talk to! Which is why it is of the utmost importance to establish a time each day to spend in the Word and in prayer, preferably first thing in the morning before the day begins. No matter our relationship status on earth, establishing a relationship with God is what will always sustain us. The Psalmist David said it best in Psalm 63, verses 1 & 2:
“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.”
It doesn’t have to be this long drawn-out session where you go into the third heaven but just commit daily to reading a chapter or two in the Bible and take 10 to 15 minutes to spend in quiet prayer time with God. If it means waking up 15 minutes earlier, then that is what it takes. I cannot tell you the number of times God has given me direction and guidance in those quiet moments I spend with Him each morning. It does not mean each day is filled with sunshine and ice cream, but it means I have given Him that day to guide my footsteps according to His will. The days where I don’t make time to spend with Him are the days that feel unraveled and out of sorts.
FAITHFUL CHURCH ATTENDANCE
Aside from establishing a daily prayer and Bible reading routine, something that has tremendously helped me is having a made-up mind to be at church for each service. While this may look good on paper, in reality it can feel next to impossible at times. If you are the parent of a girl, you will know firsthand what I am talking about. There are days where it seems like getting ready for church can be this major dramatic ordeal. You feel as though you are preparing for a Broadway production of some sort with 15 wardrobe changes, 10 hairdo styles, etc. And Wednesday nights seem to be the hardest. After a long day’s work, fixing dinner, making sure homework is done, walking the dogs, etc., getting ready for church can bring on the feeling that the entire world is against you. Still, it is so important that you go anyway! It is often in those times when I have the biggest struggle to get to church that I receive a much-needed Word from God or something miraculous happens. Faithful church attendance goes beyond just getting your soul fed, but simultaneously you are instilling in your children the idea that making it to God’s house is a priority. You are also getting your kids involved and rubbing shoulders with those who are Kingdom-minded.
REMAIN FAITHFUL IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS
Being solely responsible for all financial aspects of my house, I can tell you every dollar and every penny have a name. There have been plenty of months where I did not know how certain bills were going to get paid, but I made a vow to God I would remain faithful in my tithes and offerings and I can tell you He has never left me nor forsaken me. I may not have everything I want, but I have more then I will ever need. God’s desire is that we trust Him completely and totally with everything. Do not skimp out on the promises of God by withholding tithes and offerings.
GET INVOLVED IN SOMETHING BIGGER THEN YOURSELF
Make a decision to involve yourself in a ministry in your church. When we get involved in something much bigger then ourselves and give of ourselves to others, we realize just how blessed we are.
KEEP YOUR DRAMA OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Personally, the last thing I want to read when I log onto my Facebook account is some drama somebody has with the other parent of their child. Even if the cops were called, he/she trash-talked you in front of your kid or is taking you to court for the 5th time in 2 weeks… please refrain from the temptation to spread it across social media. We all have family issues and drama but social media is simply not the place to air these problem. What you post online can actually affect your chances of getting a job or even keeping the one you have. Many employers, if not most, before even glancing at your resume will Google your name. Do you really want the first thing that pops up to be your long rant on what a horrible person your child’s other parent is? What does that say about you? Would I want someone working for me with that kind of attitude? What you say on social media does matter in real life, so if you are trying to make a better life for you and your kids, think twice about what you say both on and off line.
COUNT IT ALL JOY!
While this may be a simple list, it contains some of the most important things that have helped me on my journey of single parenthood. They have guided me through difficulties and continue to carry me through. Some days it can be downright hard and occasionally it feels as though everything in the world is against me, but I’ve learned I just have to keep on! My dad always says,
“Living for God easy is hard, but living for God hard is easy.”
When you have a made-up mind to serve the Lord, coupled with the mindset of an overcomer, He will work everything out for your good; just trust Him. My ultimate goal is to make it to heaven and when I put that into perspective, life just seems more bearable. It’s gonna be worth it all when we see Him face to face!
Romans 8:18 – “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”