Allison and Greg had been married for more than a decade and had become great friends of mine through the years. Allison was once a single mom who fully understood the challenges of doing it alone. Every chance she got, she raved about what a wonderful husband Greg was and how he had lightened her load when he came into her life. But Allison had been keeping a secret from Greg for some time. She was using credit cards behind his back, and he had just found out about it. He was furious and announced that he was leaving her. He couldn’t take the lies and deceit. I ached with her as she poured out her heart to me and shared of the devastation she was certain would come within the next few days. “But Jennifer…he’s my world. I can’t live without him. He completes me,” she wailed.
In that moment, it hit me. For years, I had heard single girls use that phrase to justify an unhealthy relationship. He completes me. I am nothing without him. I had counseled hundreds of single moms who were certain that the new, eligible, bachelor in our Sunday school class was God’s perfect match for them. But I now realized that this danger didn’t just lie with singles. It was a married couples’ danger, too.
The single mom convinces herself that a Godly man will be the answer to her prayers. The newly-married, young couple (who is so in love that they complete each other’s sentences) think they are destined to a lifetime of marital bliss, since they have found the one that has made their lives whole. Wrong. Completely, utterly wrong!
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:9-10 NLT
How unfair that we put a Heavenly expectation on any earthly being! God created us. He put a God-sized hole in our hearts on purpose – so that we would worship him. He wants us in union with him, first. He completes us. There is not a man (or woman) alive that will complete us. Entering into any relationship with this expectation leads to defeat, hurt, and a lifetime of disappointment. Too often, we carry unrealistic measures that are certain to taint any new relationship. We say things like, “If I ever get married again, I will make certain my new husband doesn’t do that.” We search the world over trying to find that perfect man who will remove all our burdens in hopes that we can finally relinquish life’s heavy load. And when he can’t measure up to expectations that no man could fulfill, we are outta there, looking for the next “perfect” man.
It is the reason divorce rates are high. It is the reason we have multiple sexual partners before marriage. It is the reason for extramarital affairs, when we do marry.
Seeking, constantly seeking. What is that thing we need? What is that one thing that will make us whole?
Do you know that Proverbs 31:11 says that a wife will greatly enrich her husband’s life? Think about that for a minute. Enrich means “to add to, to bring great value, to enhance.” A healthy, Proverbs 31 gal is all about bringing value to the one she marries, not looking for that man to complete her soul. Single ladies, be cautious that you have not put unrealistic expectations that once you find the one he will somehow fill that depression, that hurt, that bitterness, that insecurity. Don’t make the new one pay for an old wound.
Likewise, married girls, evaluate your marriages. Has your husband been pushed to vainly attempt to fulfill a void that he couldn’t possibly fill?
(article first appeared on iBelieve.com on 8/20/2013)
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.
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 and prayer. 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.
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.
Sixteen years ago, I was a homeless, severely abused, teen mom pregnant for the fourth time. I eventually found myself living in the projects using food stamps and welfare simply to make ends meet. It certainly wasn’t the life I had dreamed of. Perhaps it was the fact that my mother was killed or that my father was an alcoholic who married six times to mask the devastation of her death. Maybe it was the countless sexual abusers in my life. Or maybe it was the years of failed relationships that I foolishly hoped would give me value. Whatever the reason, this lifelong church girl was certain I belonged anywhere but the local church.
There are approximately 15 million single moms in the United States. And with divorce rates at 50% and 1 in every 2 babies being born outside marriage, these numbers are expected to rise. 67% of today’s single parents are not actively attending a local church (The Church and the Single Mom, Carepoint 2011). Yet, less than 1% of all Christian Evangelical churches have any type of formalized single mother’s program and outreach plan.
Even as you read, many of you may be thinking of single moms that are thriving in your church. You may be thinking of Angela who had a rough divorce, but has now bounced back and is thriving in the house with her two precious kiddos. But for every Angela in your church, there are two other single mothers in your community convinced they don’t belong there. Many cite fear of judgment and rejection as reasons why they don’t have a home church.
You may have a Singles’ Ministry or Divorce Recovery Program. Maybe your church does an annual Single Moms’ Oil Change or Mother’s Day Banquet. All of those things are beautiful starts to an effective single parent program. But we must go beyond that. Singles Ministries tend to be an older, co-ed, program that may not work for your 20s, 30s, and 40s single moms fresh out of a failed relationship. I’m a huge proponent of Divorce Recovery, but what happens after the 10 weeks end? What about the moms who were never married? Banquets and events are great ways to serve single mothers and reach new moms, but be certain that you have a formalized Bible study, Connect Group, or Single Moms’ Ministry to plug them into for long-term discipleship and fellowship.
So, what’s your God-given passion? Poverty? Abuse? Crime? Homelessness? Human trafficking? Orphans? You name the passion and I’ll quote you the statistic that ties them directly or indirectly back to single parent homes – moms and kids that are precious to our King.
Father, let us never see these families as merely a statistic or a number. May we never paint them all with the same brush. Let us be a living vessel for James 1:27. Give us creative, fresh, new ideas on reaching the unreached. Amen.
(Article first appeared at http://www.arcchurches.com)
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her personal story of homelessness, abuse, and teen pregnancy. She is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom, and has appeared on countless radio and television programs. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.
There will be all types of who read this with many different stories. Some of you have been through financial education classes, graduated college, and/or work in professional environments, while others are still in pursuit of a high school diploma and have very little education or work experience. Some are middle class. Some are below the poverty line right now. Maybe you were raised in a home where you were never taught about healthy money management and finances. Whatever the case, healthy money management is important to learn early and pursue regularly.
Pastors often come under fire, if they mention the tithe or money in any way, as someone is certain to accuse them of greed or the pursuit of wealth. Yet, we know that the Bible speaks to healthy money management in several texts. Understanding healthy money management is critical to our walk with the Lord and here are a few reasons why:
- Money stresses us out. It causes many tears. Stressed parents don’t parent well. It affects your friendships, your job performance, and your parenting.
- Jesus died for our salvation and he died that we may be set free. That freedom is intended for our spiritual lives, of course. But money can absolutely be bondage for us that can cause us to be enslaved to our thought process or poor decisions. Poor money management can be a culprit in addiction. As Christians, we want freedom in all areas, so that we may be a living example of who Christ is living through us. Christ came that we may have an abundant life. Make no mistake. I’m not talking about some frivolous pursuit to secure worldly riches. I simply mean having the freedom to know that our financial situation isn’t a hindrance in our faith walk.
- We want to leave our children a legacy. Proverbs 13:22 says Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren. Did you notice it doesn’t even say children, rather grandchildren? What an important word for us! We are to be good stewards of that which the Lord has given us in hopes of leaving something behind for our children and their children. I know I don't want my children having to scrape money together to pay for my funeral. Do you?
- Wisdom. Proverbs 24:3 says A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong with good sense. Healthy money management leads to freedom, wisdom, and comfort.
- And for those single adults, I'll add one last thought. Enter into a new relationship financially healthy. When we aren't financially sound, it is much easier to jump into a new relationship with someone just to get some help paying the bills. Financial hardship can cloud judgement. The healthier you are in your finances, the more confident you can be that you haven't pursued a relationship for the wrong reason.
Jennifer Maggio is the founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. Her journey from homeless single mother to 11-time Circle of Excellence winner is Corporate America leaves audiences riveted. She describes herself as an ordinary girl loving an extraordinary God. For more info, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.