- 2015Jan 20
Oh, the ol’ bugaboo of dating as a single mom. Should you? Shouldn’t you? It’s a tough question that requires a great deal of thought. There is a line of thinking among some Christians that all dating is wrong and leads to heartache, so the only dating should be “courting” with the intent to marry. There are others who would say that dating is perfectly natural and certainly okay, but strong boundaries should be set forth in Christian dating.
Whether you agree with the first group or the second, one thing is certain. Dating with a child is much more complicated than dating without. And the purpose of this article is not to make the argument for courting versus dating or vice versa, but rather to give some advice on making healthy dating decisions, if you find yourself venturing into the dating world.
Only date when healthy. My goodness, I can’t tell you the number of single mothers that I have counseled that moved far too quickly from a divorce or break-up into a new relationship. It’s easy to do. Overwhelmed and exhausted with the weight of the world on your shoulders, why not find a man to fix the loneliness? Your pursuit of a new relationship won’t erase the existing hurt of an old one. It won’t heal it. Unfortunately, too many second marriages or new relationships pay the price for a broken-hearted mom who didn’t take the time to mend.
Set boundaries early. Don’t wait to be head-over-heels for a guy before deciding what your boundaries will be. Too little too late. Pray about what you want from a relationship. Pray about what God wants. Then, outline what are the healthiest boundaries for you and your child(ren). List them out long before you decide to date again.
Proceed with caution. The devastation of a divorce or failed relationship can take years to heal. The remnants that remain can have lasting effects. The worst thing that could happen to yourself or your precious kiddos is to have to go through it again. Don’t throw caution to the wind. Pray. Seek. Listen. Be still before God and hear what He has for you, not what you desire for yourself.
Don’t ignore the red flags. We all have the friend who is dating the wrong guy and everyone knows it but her! Newsflash: she knows it, too! If you embark upon a new relationship and the guy is constantly rude, late, unemployed, untrustiworthy, not kid-friendly, pushing sexual boundaries, or anything else you deem inappropriate, don’t make excuses and pretend it will go away. It won’t.
Don’t be ruled by emotions. Jeremiah 17:9 teaches us that being ruled by our hearts can be misleading or deceitful. Jumping into the water with both feet, because he gives you the “tingles” will likely leave you disappointed in the end. Again, take your time. I remember hearing a women’s pastor share about how she met her husband. They met in college and he was totally not her type. He was a “preppy” kid and she was definitely more into cowboys with a bad-boy persona. She only went out with him as a favor to a friend. Although he was nice, she found herself uninterested and waiting for the date to be over. When she arrived back to her dorm room that evening, he had sent her a dozen roses with a card that said, “Thanks for the amazing first date.” As time passed, she went out with him a few more times and God slowly changed her heart, as she sought the will of her Heavenly Father. The man that she once had no interest in suddenly became the man of her dreams. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw him. They have been married more than 10 years now. Thank God, she didn’t let her emotions ruin God’s good thing for her life.
And lastly, when God speaks, respond. The Holy Spirit gives us a “gut check” when things aren’t quite right. Go with that. It is the leading and guiding of the Spirit that gives you clear discernment. Don’t discount its significance.
Jennifer Maggio is the happily married mother of three who has a passion for the single parent family. The founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine, Maggio spends many of her days praying for and counseling with single mothers nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
- 2015Jan 06
I grew up in the Deep South in the middle of the Bible belt. Going to church was a way of life for us. We went to church every Sunday and most Wednesdays. And almost everyone I knew did the same. Interestingly, however, my parents rarely went with me. From the time I can remember, I was driven to the front door of the church and dropped off, then picked up after services were done. As I grew older, this made me very uncomfortable. All of my friends had their parents with them. Why couldn’t mine just come to church, too?!
One Sunday, the pastor delivered a message on families and the importance of staying strong, staying in the Word, and supporting one another. He wanted to pray over families and invited us all to the front of the church to spread across the altar and stage for prayer time together, as a family. My twin sister and I, who were only about ten at the time, slowly walked forward. We sat next to each other and watched as other families – real families, complete families – prayed with each other. We sat alone, embarrassed. I could not wait for service to be over so that I could bolt out the front door. I am certain I was every shade of red, as I hurriedly rushed to my father’s car.
I finally mustered up the courage to ask him why he never attended church. He explained that after my mother died, he swore he would never go back to church. (My mother was killed by a drunk driver on a Sunday morning while driving to church). He insisted, however, that it was very important for me to go. I walked away from that conversation confused, hurt, and angry. Over the next several years, I continued to attend church without my father, but after having two children outside marriage, I, too, fell away. My excuses were many:
The church is full of hypocrites.
I don’t fit in. There’s no one else like me.
I have a close relationship with God and don’t need church.
I study the Bible on my own at home.
The church will judge me.
The longer I stayed away from church, the easier it was for me to continue to do so. And the truth is, my journey back into God’s house was a long, hard one. It was only after examining my life at a very dark and lonely time that I made the decision to return. Even then, the urge to withdraw was strong. I convinced myself that I did not fit in, no one understood, and others would judge.
There isn’t one who will read this who hasn’t come dangerously close to falling away from church or actually doing so. John 10:10 tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Do we really understand that? Do we understand that the very existence of Satan is to destroy our hope? To kill our confidence? To steal our fellowship? He would like nothing more than to convince us that we do not need the church. Yet, Hebrews 10:24-25 is clear. We are to look for ways to motivate one another in Christ and not avoid church. Why is that? Can we not love the Lord if we do not attend church? Does church attendance in some way make us more saved? Of course not. We know God’s grace through Jesus’ blood saves us. But if we do not gather together, how do we get edified, encouraged, and challenged? How do we remain accountable? The organized gathering together of God’s people is his design for our Christian growth. We need it.
With droves of teens falling away from church, single parents remaining one of the biggest unchurched people groups in our country, and thousands of others claiming no religion at all, it is crucial that the body of Christ stay connected to the house and become passionate about getting others there. Church attendance doesn’t save you. But life is found in God’s house. It’s where encouragement is found. Friendships are formed. Lives are challenged.
** Article originally appeared at iBelieve.com.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single moms and womens’ issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who has a God-given passion to see women walking in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and has been featured in countless media venues.
- 2014Dec 29
I hurriedly parked, rushed to the gym, and found a seat in the bleachers at my kids' school. The bleachers, the gym, the court – it seems to be where I, like many parents, spend much of my time these days, as I am currently parenting year-round athletes. The game was about to start, and I could not wait to see the Tigers bring home the victory. I glanced behind me and caught the eye of a fellow mom, so I went over to greet her.
“Hey Sally! Great to see you. How's it going?” I cheerfully asked.
“Things are great.” she spouted with a slight smile, somewhat hesitantly.
I knew things were not great, but I did not know the mom that well, so we made idle chit-chat for a bit. The something-is-not-right feeling would not leave me. And before I knew it, I was throwing my arm around her shoulder and giving her a big hug, telling her that she looked like she could use one. Instantly, the tears flowed. Over the next several minutes, she began to share with me a number of burdens she was carrying ,such as parenting concerns and financial decisions. As she finished, I had the privilege of grabbing her hand and praying for her specific needs.
Which one of us has not been there? Whether you are navigating through the sometimes difficult journey of parenting, educating students, or somewhere else on life's path, you have most assuredly been at that place of feeling “overwhelmed” at some point. There is a great passage of Scripture I have clung to during those very times:
“From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.” -Psalm 61:2-3 NLT
It is a great privilege to cry out to our Heavenly Father when our heart is overwhelmed and know that He is our safe refuge. He sees those times when we are exhausted and feel you we cannot press on. He sees when we have lost sleep over a difficult decision. And He is faithful to send someone at the perfect time who is honored to pray just for you.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on single parents' and womens' issues. She travels the globe sharing her riveting personal story, both to encourage and equip mothers everywhere. She has been featured on hundreds of radio and television programs, including The 700 Club, Daystar TV, Moody Radio, and many more. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.