For surely, O Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:12 (NIV)
Prior to my single parenthood, I, like many Christians, had a casual relationship with God. I faithfully attended church on Sundays, and I prayed when I needed something from Him. My most intimate moments with Him were those when I needed a miracle. Most of the time, I depended on my own intellectual abilities and feelings to achieve goals and resolve problems.
However, finding myself alone in an unfamiliar city with two young sons and no car, job, or family, I desperately turned back to the God who (I had realized as a child growing up) had been the source of guidance for my mom and grandmother. Knowing that He had been faithful to them, I made a decision to depend on Him and to help me make godly decisions for my sons and myself (“…he who trusts in the Lord will prosper” Proverbs 28:25, NIV).
Today, I am a single parent who successfully raised two children that now call me blessed because I dared to have faith in God. I had to realize that He is the ultimate parent. As a result of this decision and the successes I experienced while raising my sons, I offer the following guidelines, which are based on biblical promises:
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
Begin by allowing God to walk with you in your season of adjustment to the challenges of single parenthood. He is our Abba Father, or Daddy Father. Lean on Him. He has broad shoulders. Allow him to love you and to heal your brokenness, rejection, shame, guilt, self-condemnation, self-pity, or grief that might be hindering you. Being broken before Him is a privilege; it rids you of excessive weight that shackles or restrains you. God desires to restore those things that you have lost.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NIV)
Next, pray daily for wisdom in raising your children. In my case, this was most important because my boys had such different personalities. In fact, their personalities were at the opposite ends of the spectrum. While Michael, my eldest, was very strong-willed, Detavio was more mild-mannered.
…And a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:6 (NIV)
In the early stages of my submission to God, I’m convinced that God imparted wisdom to me through my children, who were able to hear from God at a very early age. For example, Michael learned to walk at eight months old; at 10 months, he noticed that a cigarette had fallen out of an ash tray onto my mattress. He didn’t talk well, but he could point. He found me in the kitchen, took me by the hand, pulled me into the bedroom, and pointed at the cigarette burning my bed covers. As he grew up, he often worried about my smoking habit. He would tell me that cigarettes fried one’s brain, or he would try to quote scriptures to convince me to quit.
Unaware that God was speaking through Mike, I continued smoking until God also spoke through Detavio when he was almost two. He passed by me while I was smoking and said, “God doesn’t like what you’re doing.” When I asked him what he meant, he did not reply. Believe me, it was my last cigarette! Again, at age two and a half, Detavio, unable to read, brought the Bible to me opened to Isaiah 54, and said, “God told me to tell you to read this.” Ironically, at that very instant, I was lying across the bed feeling sorry for myself. I found encouragement in the verses Detavio had called to my attention because they assured me that God would be my husband and that no weapon formed against me would prosper. God knows how to impart wisdom, even through children, to the hearing ear!
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed…. Proverbs 31:26-28, NIV
Finally, to keep from being overwhelmed by circumstances, I established functionally meaningful routines. My routines kept me on track. Eight o’clock was always bedtime. My children knew they had to pick up toys, bathe, and get dressed for bed. Bedtime was enjoyable because I put my children to bed with a story, a few songs, and back rubs.
There were some things my children and I always did as a family. Our meals were prepared and eaten together at a specific time. I generally awoke early to pray on my own, and then my children and I prayed together each morning before leaving home. We attended church on Sunday mornings and evenings, as well as on Monday nights for prayer. Other routines centered on homework, cleaning house, grocery shopping, and activities such as Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Routines helped me not to lose sight of the things I needed to accomplish during the day, and they kept my focus on what was important – my children.
In retrospect, my experience as a single mom has been rewarding, despite the many challenges. Today, I know I continue to be blessed just by observing how God now blesses Michael and Detavio in everything they do.