When Life is Hard
Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2015 Dec 09
~~Being a single parent is hard.
There’s loneliness. The longing to love and be loved. The desire for adult companionship. An intense need to share your life with someone. And it is so much harder during the holidays.
There’s guilt. Will my kids be ok? Will my kids overcome the loss they have experienced? Did I throw in the towel too soon? Should I have prayed longer, harder?
There’s the feeling of not fitting in. Church isn’t designed for single parents. Your kids’ friends’ parents look at you differently. You’re the only single sitting in the stands at the ball games. Or, if you’re the 40-something still sitting with your parents at every activity, as if you were still a kid.
There’s the overwhelming pain of feeling as if you are broken. You’ve lost your picture-perfect dream of what your future holds. You don’t know what tomorrow holds let alone the next year, five years, or ten years. It’s hard to even begin to imagine your future because of the uncertainty.
There’s pressure. Every decision for the household is on you. You are solely responsible for financial decisions, for child-rearing decisions. Everything—from cleaning house to medical decisions to grocery shopping to working—is your responsibility.
I’m sure I could go on and on about the struggles of single parenting. But, for me personally, there are two specific struggles that seem to tear me down more than anything else: time and finances. And both of those struggles have come crashing down around me this week.
Time. There’s never enough. Let’s start with my job. I am blessed with a great job, one I truly love, that fits this season of my life like nothing else. I have a lot of flexibility, and I don’t know how I would survive without it. The majority of my weekdays is devoted to my job.
Then there’s my blog. My blog is my passion. My blog, my ministry, gives meaning to my pain. It is the pay-off for every pain I’ve been through. It gives me such joy to know that my journey can bless others, that God is using my pain to encourage others. But, it takes time to write, to respond to emails, to keep things going.
And, of course, there are my kids. It’s basketball season. It’s choir season. It’s quiz bowl season. Just this week, we have had activities in Tuttle, Newcastle, Blanchard, Ada, Geronimo, Dallas, and Chickasha (most of those are small towns within a 1 ½ hour radius of Oklahoma City) We have six basketball games, two choir concerts, two field trips, one quiz bowl, and tumbling practice. In addition, we’ve had three doctor appointments and one orthodontic appointment.
Oh…And we can’t forget pig. Yes, Pig. My son decided he wanted to show a pig this year. He saved his money and bought Pig. He’s doing a great job taking care of pig, but when he’s gone on a school activity, someone has to feed Pig. Add that to my list of duties.
Some of you may be blessed with a co-parent who steps up and helps out with doctor appointments and who supports the kids at their activities. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS. Everything falls on me. I am the only parent in the stands at school activities (most of the time). I am the only parent running kids to activities and doctor appointments. I am the only parent supporting my kids consistently. And I know that if I am not present at activities, my kids will not have a parent to support them. (Think pressure and guilt.)
(Note: I am blessed with the most amazing and supportive family who picks up when I can’t. But, to my kids, there’s nothing like having your parent there to support you.)
With all of these activities piling on me this week, can I just say that I am exhausted? Yep. Exhaustion is the mark of a single parent.
And then there are finances. Let’s face it. Here in America, it is next to impossible to survive on a single income. Kids grow and need clothes and shoes and coats. Teenage boys eat…ALL THE TIME. There’s always something breaking, something needing to be replaced. There are school activities that cost money every time I turn around. There is no end to the drain on my checking account. Putting aside money for college or the future is often just a dream…one that never seems to come true.
Maybe you are a parent who never sees a dime of child support. Or maybe you were a stay-at-home mom starting over in a new career. Or maybe, like me, you just find the cost of living in this world continues to rise while your income stays the same (or even shrinks). I completely understand.
And then there’s the unexpected. Just today, my oldest son called me in the middle of the day. Within an hour, I had him at the pediatrician ($35 co-pay). I was then sent directly to the specialist (another $35 co-pay). And, within two hours of his call to me, I was scheduling a surgery. I’m staring at a huge and unexpected medical bill, and—to be honest—I have absolutely no idea how it will be paid.
Today, I find myself struggling in my role as single parent. I usually keep going, have a great attitude, love my life. But, it’s times like this where I long for this season to be over. I long for someone to hold me, to remind me everything is going to be ok. It’s times like this when I wish I didn’t have to carry the entire burden alone.
And then I remember: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
I don’t have to carry the burden alone! As a matter of fact, I shouldn’t carry it all! God tells me to cast, throw, pitch—as long and as far and as hard as I can—all of my cares—every fear, every doubt, every concern, everything—on him. Why? Because he cares for me!
He sees me. He sees my plight. He knows my fears, my anxieties, my concerns. He knows my guilt, my heartache, my pain. He knows my heart longs to give my kids the best, to provide for their every need. He knows I want to see my kids grow in the fullness of the Spirit, to see them grow into emotionally, mentally, spiritually healthy adults. He knows I want them to know the depth of my love and concern for them.
And he cares about every single burden on my heart.
He cares so much that he wants to carry those burdens for me.
This is a learning process for all of us. I am learning, each and every day, to cast my cares on him—and to leave them there instead of picking them back up again. I am learning how to rest daily in my Savior’s perfect peace by focusing fully on him (Isaiah 26:3). I am learning that my faith still has plenty of room to grow as I wait to see how he will step up and be my Jehovah Jireh, my God who provides. I am learning—still—to wait, to trust, to believe, to hope.
Are you struggling in your role of single parent? Wondering how to balance everything? Trying to find ways to fight the exhaustion? Wondering where your next meal is coming from?
Please know you are not alone. I am walking this journey right alongside you, learning, growing, trusting as best I can. Let’s commit—together—to casting all our cares on him…because he cares for us.