on being a single mom

A shame as dirty as the floor washed over me as I pulled the number from the dispenser. Babies wailed and mommas fidgeted. Numbers were called one-by-one. Brokenness filled the room. I couldn’t help but wonder about the circumstances that had left each person applying for government assistance. Abandoned families. Laid-off employees. Cancer patients. I prayed and reminded myself that God was in control over circumstances. Mine and theirs.

I fought the tears and resolved to maintain control. The moment would finally come when my number was called and she ushered us to her office. Right away, I could see that this social worker was not having a good day. She never looked up. Her tone was condescending and her heart cold. She fired questions at me, as if she was hoping to trap me. My situation was bleak and I needed the money, so I endured.

She had no patience, no understanding, and no tact.

On the form, I had checked married, but stated that he left. “That means you are separated, honey,” she jeered. I couldn’t find the voice to respond, so she continued. “You might as well face it. You are a single mom now.” It was the first time I would hear those words and it burned deep. The urge to choke her flooded over me, but I resolved not to come unglued. My heart withered in fear. I had no control over my life and the future was terrifying. I didn’t like it, but she was right. I was now a single mom.

Single mom.

For me, those words have always come with a wave of negativity.

I picture her living in a trailer, eating cans of beans from the church’s food bank and working while her babes sleep at night. She’s tired, mistreated, misunderstood, and often cries herself to sleep at night. Her heart is bitter and lonely and her responsibilites pile much higher than that sink of dirty dishes.

I grew up with this reality and I knew that it was the one thing that I never wanted to be. It was the one thing I feared the most. The one thing I worked the hardest to prevent. But it turns out that it’s not something I can control. Sweet friend…did you hear that? It’s not something you can control. Godly men fall off the deep end in an instant. Even pastors, deacons and missionary men. Families shatter and you find yourself sitting in the piles of destruction.

I’ve lived in that destruction for 2 years, 8 months and 2 days. Up until this very moment, I have never used the phrase “single mom.” Even when it was a matter of getting food for my children, I refused to allow it to define me. Yet, the reality is…I am a single mom. I care for 4 small children by myself. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t want this. It doesn’t matter that I begged him to stay. It doesn’t matter that I pray daily for God to restore our family. The reality is…he isn’t here and I do this thing alone.

I’m a single mom.

Declaring this “status” makes it hard to breathe. The fear of the unknown, the lack of financial resources, the emotional trauma and the judging eyes all carry great heartache. But for me, my greatest fear is the lack of acceptance. I fear that this will be the one thing that will keep me from being loved.

So often, people assume that single moms brought their depravity upon themselves. I know they do, because I’ve been one of those people. I’ve judged and pointed fingers. I’ve believed the lie that she could have been a better wife. I’ve watched her car pull into McDonald’s and passed judgement, never wondering how I could help with the mountain of responsibility that she never asked for. I’ve avoided friendships with single moms and I’ve offered “suggestions” as to their working status. I’ve even held the same critical views of myself.

Oh, how I wish I had known the pain, the utter depravity that a mom feels that can’t be comforted with piles of bills, laundry, and toys. Oh, how I wish that I had just once stopped to think about how badly she needed a friend or how desperate she was for a hug. Oh, how I wish that I had just stopped judging and tried to understand. But honestly, there is no way to understand or fathom what a single mom experiences. Until you’ve been there.

As it turns out, being a single mom is not a label, it’s a situation. And situations are what you make of them.

Single mom, it’s time we stop believing the lie that what other people think matters. NO ONE else can define us, but our Father. Right now, we can choose to believe what God says about us. There is no mold or stereotype to threaten us. EVEN if it was entirely your fault that he left, God’s love for you (and me) is scandalous. It’s never-ending.  All-consuming. Merciful and powerful. He chose us and adopted us as treasured daughters (Eph 1:4-8).

Perhaps you didn’t choose to be a single mom, but you can chose to bask in the love of our Savior, not allowing negativity to invade. We can claim the promise that He is in control and that His plan works all things for our good, even when others intend harm (Gen. 50:20). We can choose to believe that even in this circumstance God is working, refining our own depravity into a crown of beauty (Is. 63)

 

Comments

  1. Jenna says

    Amazing post, Kim!  We’ve all been guilty of judging the circumstances of others and being critical of their choices, even when we don’t know half the story.  Thank you for being so real, and for opening my eyes and my heart just a little wider to the inner thoughts and struggles of the many women who can relate to your situation. Praying for your family on a regular basis, all the while thanking God for how He is continuing to work in your life and ministry! Jenna

  2. Morgan says

    Beautifully written Kim. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. I’m still praying for restoration.

  3. Aundrea Cherry says

    Amazing Post, Kim!  Thank you for being so real.  I can see God in you through your writing and pray for you and your marriage.  Hugs to you!

  4. says

    Oh, God bless you, girl! Yes, you are, always have been, and always will be, so very beautiful and precious in His sight! My husband was gone just for the weekend, and as I cared for my 4 little ones alone, I thought, “I don’t know HOW single moms do this!” It would break me! You are so strong. And very brave for sharing your heart here. I pray that God will break open doors of opportunity for you to accomplish in your life what only you uniquely can–that you will feel the embrace of love and acceptance and His life to the fullest. –I love the design changes you made here, just lovely!

    hissongtomeshalom.blogspot.com

  5. Amy Roller says

    My heart goes out to you Kim.  Thank you SO much for this reminder that we too often tend to judge people, instead of reaching out to them to offer a hand.  This post, honestly, has changed me.  It’s not that I sit around judging single moms all the time, but I am totally guilty of ignorning people and walking away, consumed with all that’s in my head at the moment.  You are brave and beautiful, sharing your heart like this, and I truly thank you.  My thoughts now go to, “What can I do now?”  Can you speak to the types of things that would minister to you–babysitting your children, giving you a ride, bringing dinner by, helping you fix something, etc.  Or would offer of those things be annoying or condesending?  (I’m meaning these offerings from a person you know, a friend or aquaintence? SP?) I am thinking right now of a single mom I know with two little ones who seems to always be consumed with them.  I would like to help.  Not that you speak for all single moms, but any insight you could give would be enlightening.  AGAIN, thank you SO much for opening your heart to us.  It’s been a blessing. :)
    Amy R.

    • says

      Hi Amy. Thanks for your sweet words and your question. I think that most people see a person who is hurting, but don’t really know how to offer help. I know this is true of me. I’m excited to tell you that I have a series starting NEXT WEEK that answers this question! Several of my blogging friends are writing from their own trials and offering ways to help. Thanks for stopping by today!

  6. Chandra Medina2010 says

    Ive been a single mom almost 11 years. I’ve come a long way since then, and your post brought back memories from the very beginning that brought tears to my eyes, and hit home to some very present things too. Thank you for this, it really does give a sneak peek into the heart of us mothers doing the job of 2.

  7. says

    Beautiful Post! I was raised by my mom and know the hardship she went through trying to raise me and my sisters by herself. I can’t imagine doing it on my own and do not take my husband for granted. I know I’m not immune to one day becoming a single parent. You are strong and beautiful! You are in my thoughts and prays that God will continue to grow you into am amazingly Godly mother. God bless!

  8. Marisa Loper says

    this was very eye opening for me. i don’t know too many single moms (yet) and pray the Lord continues to pour his grace over my marriage to keep me from that but like you so eloquently state, we are not in control. He is. thank you for sharing so honestly and i am looking forward to your new series :)

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