As a single mom, you’ve lost the dream of what life might have been like for your family if your children’s dad was still at home with you. Struggling against fear, sorrow, loneliness, fatigue, financial worries, and other challenges likely grieves your heart even more. But you’re not condemned to a miserable life just because of your circumstances. If you trust God with your life – and your children’s lives – you can leave what might have been behind and move confidently into a bright future.

Here’s how you can move forward with confidence as a single mom:

Take care of your health. If you think you may be chronically depressed, visit a doctor for a thorough checkup (even if you don’t have medical insurance, it’s worthwhile to invest in this visit). Remember that God is bigger and more reliable than your changing feelings; know that He is constantly at work in your life, even when you don’t feel as if He really loves you. Don’t be afraid to express your toughest thoughts and feelings to God and cry out to Him to help you with whatever situation you’re facing. Hold onto His promise that if you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. Prevent burnout by eating nutritious meals (avoid fast food and learn to make simple, healthy meals at home whenever possible), exercising, getting adequate sleep, and taking vitamins. Do what you can to create a peaceful atmosphere in your home, live within your financial means to minimize your stress, invest in a few close friendships, find creative ways to spend some time alone every day in silent prayer and reflection (such as putting your kids to bed a half hour earlier, or spending part of your lunch hour at work alone), and treat yourself to a few luxuries once in a while (such as a new CD or a meal at a fancy restaurant).

Give thanks. Rather than dwelling on what you don’t like about your life, look for what’s good and regularly thank God for your blessings. Know that gratitude will lead to contentment despite your circumstances, and also nurture hopeful anticipation of what God will do next in your life.

Deal with loneliness wisely. Beware of letting your loneliness lead to desperation and unwise relationships (such as affairs with men who don’t share your values, or friendships in which you become too emotionally clingy and drive your friends away). Instead of hoping that another person will somehow rescue you from your circumstances, place your hope in God and his loving plans for you. Entrust your longing for companionship to God by giving up your agenda and trusting Him to make His dreams for your life come true. Build a support system of family and friends you can turn to for encouragement and support, without relying too much on any one person. Reach out to help your family and friends whenever they need it, too, knowing that you’ll be blessed as you take your focus off your own problems and help someone else when you can.

Don’t let anything deter you from pursuing a closer relationship with God. Even if church is the last place you want to be because some other Christians have judged, criticized or alienated you, realize that God loves you deeply, no matter what. Recognize that what you need more than anything else in life is a close relationship with God, so invest in it. Be willing to give up the futile attempt to control your own life and get out of God’s way so He can bless you with His great plans for you. If you’ve encountered hurtful people at a church, try another church, and keep in mind that many churches offer either singles’ ministries or divorce recovery programs. Understand that you need to be in community with other believers to sustain your faith and grow. Don’t hesitate to come to God just as you are; remember that He loves you unconditionally. Let go of unhealthy guilt and shame. Focus on relationship instead of religion, building intimacy with God instead of trying to impress Him through rituals. Make God your top priority, despite how busy you are, and watch how He will transform your life as a result. Ask God to help you learn from your suffering and grow more into the woman He wants you to become. Invite God to use your suffering to accomplish good purposes in your life. Remember that God, who has created you in His own image, loves you more than you can ever know.