Single parents face struggles and joys. In this article that appeared first here, Donna Hart, PhD provides encouragement to single parents facing the empty nest years. Her Number One recommendation: prayer. Donna’s article is used with permission.
A leader of a ministry to single parents since 2003, I have experienced joy. . .to love, serve, and make them a part of my family. To nurture my soul and the souls of a few of our leaders, we get together to pray.
It is always amazing to see how God is working in each of our hearts as He shows up every time we pray with a common theme. A while back, as we talked about our needs for prayer a theme arose: the joys and sorrows around relationships – particularly with their adult children who are leaving, marrying, and having children of their own.
When Adult Children Leave Home
There was the praise and joy of sons and daughters who are married and having children. There is the fun of seeing daughters meet young men of faith and watching their relationships flourish and progress toward marriage.
Then, there is the unexpected dark side.
Single parents feel sadness when their kids leave for college, but also feel victorious for having raised children that are ready to leave home. But few single parents expect the deep sorrow they face as their children get married and have children of their own.
After wading through the pain of divorce and a life dedicated to raising their children, it can be difficult and painful for single parents to balance the celebration of their children’s independence – and even the celebration of grandchildren – with the grief of feeling alone and on the sidelines of life.
While married couples enjoy their grandchildren and the freedom to do more things together, single parents now often face another round of grieving loss, but at a more profound, painful, and lonely level.
Creeping Fear of ‘Life Is Over’
This is a darkness that says, “You have no value, you are done, life is over, you will always be alone.”
One of my prayer partners said, “It feels like I’m missing a piece of me and the battle with loneliness and fear makes me just want to give up. It is a day-by-day battle to fight the negative thoughts that God does not have anything for me and find my way back to believing and trusting God’s promises.”
God does have a purpose in the grieving: to slow us down to contemplate what is important and of value. And for my prayer partner, what mattered most were relationships. We know that relationships are hard and painful, and yet, deeply satisfying. God has created us in His image; He as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, but three persons. God is a relational God, we are created in His image, and we are created for relationship.
The grieving and strong emotions we feel are a divine appointment with the Lord to pray for protection to be victorious. At the same time, they know the strong passions are revealing a calling of the Lord to new relationships to serve and minister to another.
Given that God is a God of relationship, this can be the call of God to be Titus 2:4 women “…encourage (or train) the young women.” Is it an opportunity to “instruct to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:12-13)?
For the grace of God. . . teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 11-12, NIV
Ministering to One Another
My prayer partners and I often pray for a big, big house where we could all live. A place where the older moms, younger single moms, and their children can all live. A place where the older can minister to the younger and the younger can minister to the older.
Our dream of an uncommon community would have living quarters for many families and a large common area with a huge kitchen and dining room big enough to seat everyone. They could cook together, sit down for dinner together, laugh, love, and pray together. They could hear their children’s voices, laughter, and play in a safe home where they could relax, learn, and grow in their relationships with each other and with the Lord.
Single parents know life is hard and is not meant to be done alone. They know that God has gifted them and wants to use their gifts to His glory. They know and feel the pull of wanting relationships. The challenge is to find creative ways to serve in the context of relationship.
Healing and a fulfilling joy is found in having a project to work on to serve another. I challenge them to dream big, audacious dreams to serve others.
Serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13
What is your big dream to serve another? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.