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Jennifer Maggio Christian Blog and Commentary

Jennifer Maggio

Jennifer Maggio is a national voice for single mothers and hurting women. Her personal story has been featured in hundreds of media venues including The New York Times, Daystar Television, The 700 Club, and many others. She is CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a national nonprofit that works with churches to develop single mom’s programs and serves more than 1,500 churches and 71,000 single mothers annually.  She is an author of several books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She also hosts the podcast Single Mom 101, which you can find at LifeAudio.com. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com or check out her Facebook and Instagram pages.

  

 The day my son left for college, I thought my heart had just been ripped from my chest. And I don’t say that because it sounds dramatic and makes for a great read. I mean, it seemed like my world would never be the same. I had been planning for this day for months, well…years. I knew it would come, but when it did, it was much harder than I had even imagined. It all began the first day of his senior year of high school. He drove his sisters to school, as he had for several years prior, and when they left the driveway, the tears streamed down my face. I knew it was the beginning of the end. Then, there was Senior Night for his football team and later his basketball team, and more tears flowed. With every passing event over the next few months, the looming anxiety of his certain departure from my home became ever more present.

            The weekend before he left for college, we took him shopping for dorm room gear – bed sheets, towels, toiletries, and the like. I fought back tears the entire time. (By this time, the entire family was sick of my tears). The night before he left, the family flocked into his room and helped him sort everything he owned into piles. We packed suitcases and duffle bags. We laughed about old times and told stories about when he got caught sneaking around. And after everyone had gone to bed, I knocked on my son’s door and asked if I could come into his room and just sit. We didn’t say much, just idle chit-chat, but I needed to just be there with him.

            The next morning we loaded two cars to head to college. Before we left, my husband asked our son if we could talk. We took him into the living room and sat down. My husband began to read a four-page letter of how much our son meant to us, how honored we were to be his parents, the significance of his role in the Kingdom of God, and our hopes for his future. Though they tried to fight them, tears welled up in both my son’s and husband’s eyes.  We made the short drive to his campus, unloaded his things, and within an hour, drove away without him. On the way home, we stopped for lunch with our daughters, and when I ordered, the tears came and came and came. The tears didn’t stop coming for weeks, and then months.

           

           

Nothing is natural about letting go of the hand of the little boy that you birthed, reared, rocked, spanked, and encouraged for the last eighteen years. Nothing. It seemed I had been teaching him for the last many years to learn to be independent and let go of my hand, only to realize that the one who would struggle with the release would be me, not him. Letting go of our children as they age into adulthood is one of the hardest things we will ever do as moms. We feel comfortable kissing boo-boos and cleaning up spilled milk. There’s not much comfortable about letting them go it alone, but it is necessary. For you see, it is the natural order of things. It is God’s intention for our adult children to move on, leave the nest, learn, grow, become strong men and women of God, and be productive with their lives. Don’t hinder their life’s fulfillment by being the parent that cannot let go.

            This journey of letting go has led to me learn a few facts along the way, and I thought I’d share them with you:

  1. They will make mistakes, and that is okay. Part of my inability to let go of my young adult children was the fear that my children would not be perfect, wouldn’t measure up, or life would get hard, and they wouldn’t handle it well. It’s hard to even admit that to you now because I cloaked that fear with the façade of legitimate concern. I told my Christian friends that I had given it all to God, but the truth was, I was secretly fretting day and night. Our children’s mistakes are life lessons, tools that equip them. No more. No less.
  2. God loves your children more than you. We know this in theory, but to embrace this truth and trust God with His plans for them is hard. God created them and knew them before they were even formed in our wombs (see Jeremiah 1:5), and this same God loves them more than comprehension. He gave them to us. It’s baffling to me, yet reassuring to know that my God, the God who formed Heaven and Earth, is the same God who is caring, leading, guiding, and directing my children.
  3. You will get over it. I cried about my son’s departure, probably much longer than I should have, and I had spontaneous tears even after I stopped the daily tear flow. But I can say to you now; I am learning to let go. My son is a young adult, as now also is my daughter. Their departures from the nest didn’t kill me or hinder God’s plans for me. If anything, it has created a new journey of self-discovery in me and a deeper exploration of who God is, and how his love abounds for his people.

I will not tell you that I don’t eagerly wait by the phone if I think my children are going to call or explode with excitement when they are coming home, but the fear of letting them go no longer disables me.

 Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE

*** Article first appeared at iBelieve.com

We Can’t Fix “Them” by Jennifer Maggio

   The first fourteen years of my kids’ lives were pretty easy – not in the sense that we faced no challenges because there were plenty. Rather, I felt in control of my children’s lives on most days. Sure, there was the occasional temper tantrum, dirty room, or smart mouth, through the years. But I don’t know if anything could have adequately prepared me for the journey I would take through those teen years. What happened to my sweet, obedient little angels? It seemed that almost overnight, my son developed a mind of his own – complete with his own ideas and thoughts about life. (Yes, I know that’s what is supposed to happen, but annoying nonetheless!)

One afternoon, I received a call from my son’s school that he had gotten in trouble for cheating on a test. It was devastating. I was mad, hurt, embarrassed, and so much more. They were contemplating what punishment he would receive. As I hung up the phone, I began to cry. I prayed fervently that God would fix this situation. Secretly, I wanted God to rescue my son rather than have him face the consequences. It was in those moments that I felt strongly that God was whispering this thought into my heart, “If I constantly fix things for him, how does he learn to depend on me?” Ouch. The truth was, I wanted to control it all and for my son to make the right choices because I said so, not because he chose to.

You see, I had this idea in my mind of what the perfect life was like. I’m sure you can relate. I would have children who always obeyed, earned straight A’s, and had great influences for friends. My children would graduate college, become doctors, own successful practices, marry great spouses, serve the Lord, and live happily ever after. And as I’m sure you guessed, life doesn’t always turn out that way. There are twists and turns and ups and downs. There are right choices and wrong ones. Ultimately, my son turned out just fine. But as I struggled to put words around how I was feeling through those tough high school years, this is what I came up with. I simply wanted to “fix” my kids. I had experienced the devastation that poor choices can bring in my own life, and I never wanted my kids to go through that.

The same has been true in other areas of my life, too. As God began to radically transform my heart and pull me up from some of the darkest circumstances, I became more and more passionate about wanting others to serve my God. This is a beautiful thing. It’s what we are on the Earth to do. However, the problem comes when we think that bringing others to Christ has more to do with “fixing” them than loving them. You see, I had been an impoverished, severely abused, single mom who lived in sexual immorality. I knew how hard that life was. So when I had the opportunity to minister to single moms, I thought I had to show them Christ and…Pow! Boom! They would magically transform into perfect little angels. (That’s exactly how it worked in my life. Yeah, right!)

As moms, wives, co-workers, friends, ministry leaders, and pretty much any other category on the planet, our job as Christians isn’t to fix people, however well-meaning it may be. In fact, we can’t fix people. I know this will shock some of you, but here goes. For every person, you are desperate to “fix,” there is another person desperate to fix you! We aren’t perfect. None of us have it all together. It’s true that some are further along on their Christian path than others, and we absolutely can use that to invest wisdom in our sisters in Christ. But our primary job is to love one another. Our job is to administer tons of compassion and grace to show mercy and friendship to others.

I can’t say that I’ve fully accepted the fact that I can’t fix my kiddos or others around me. But I can say that I am committed to trying! Will you join me in stepping back and letting the Holy Spirit do the job of fixing others?

 Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE

woman with head bowed and handed folded in prayer

On July 16, 2016, I watched 1,000 single moms fill the altar at the National Single Moms Conference. I watched them cry and dance and pour their heart out to God as they experienced his presence. I stood in awe of what God had just done. You see, I had dreamed for almost a decade about a national single mom’s conference and what that would mean in their life, what hope it could potentially give. God did something special in their hearts and lives that weekend, and I am forever grateful. And after it was all over, I just cried.  All the tears I had held for the months and years before the conference were released…and I just cried in gratitude. You know, I wish I could tell you that I just woke up one morning, decided to host a conference, and everyone just happened to show up, but that is not at all how the conference happened.

It wasn’t easy planning the event. And it wasn’t easy experiencing all the things that had happened, years earlier, that gave me the heart for single moms that motivated me to host it.

It wasn’t easy surviving 9-years of sexual assault, severe beatings, an alcoholic father, homelessness, malnourishment, and a myriad of other challenges as a single mom.

And my tomorrow won’t be easy either, as I beat my chest in meetings, behind closed doors, for single moms, in hopes that someone will know how much they need to be served. But you know what?  Tomorrow won’t be easy for you either. Your challenges in your life, your job, your children, your finances, relationships, etc., aren’t easy. Life is a battle. My greatest desire for the women of God is that we learn how to battle well. We learn how to move from strength to strength and glory to glory.

How do you have the strength to move on? How do you have the strength to parent alone for sometimes as much as 20 years? How do you have the strength to step out in faith in any area?

Strength isn’t about your battle today. It’s more about what you do while you’re there.

Strength is quiet, yet mighty. Strength is the ability to let the past go and forgive. Strength is not responding when they lie or gossip about you. Strength is about praising despite the problem…. worshipping despite the worry….. and being faithful despite the fear. Strength is faith. It is Jesus manifested. I’ve learned some things about strength through the years, and I hope these things will help you, as you battle in your own lives: The first one is this:

1. Strength is about pushing through when everything else inside you says quit.

For example, four years ago, my son was 17-years-old.  He had slowly, over the course of several years, become angrier and angrier, with life, with me, with seemingly everything.  He was punching holes in his wall, missing curfew, and failing classes. I prayed, I sought counseling, I fasted, I attended church every time the door was open. Nothing helped. And everything in me wanted to quit, but I didn’t. And there was the time, our ministry had no money, and I couldn’t pay my staff. I was angry at God. How could he call me to ministry and then not provide? All I wanted to do was quit.

But, you see, strength isn’t about quitting.  Nothing about those examples have anything to do with me.  It is about the power of God that rises up on the inside of me that will not allow me to quit. That’s strength. Strength is fighting. Strength in the battle is about pushing through. Strength is fighting when you want to quit. Hell hath no fury like a woman of God who chooses to rise up, pray, praise and press through. That’s strength.

2. Strength is developed through hardship.

We don’t like to hear that, do we? When I see women who can do 50 push-ups or maybe hold the plank position for several minutes, I admire it. But I also recognize that it took some practice. Your strength comes through battles. It comes through learning to battle well and endure and exercise that muscle. Strength isn’t developed on the mountain-top when everything that your foot touches is blessed.  Strength is developed in the valley when all you have is the promise of God, but no evidence of such promise. You’re going to have to go through some things that build your character, strengthen your integrity, and test your faith. Strength is birthed out of desperation. He’s developing strength – deep, in the depths of your soul. And this hardship will be worth it.

3. The strength you possess is about who possesses you. 

Strength is really in understanding how weak you are. This is where most of us get into trouble. We try, in our own strength, to clean up good enough to get into a church and to do this Christian life well. If you are anything like me, you have made plenty of mistakes. And maybe you had a significant life change… and you work really hard to fit in, to be perfect, to measure up…but you can’t do it in your own strength. You will fail, and you will give up. 

The good news is, not by our strength or our might, but by His spirit. Strength is not about doing church well. I can’t do church well another second. Strength is not about legalism and traditionalism and a set of rules that none of us can fully follow anyway. It’s about having an encounter with our King. Strength is understanding the God we belong to set the sun in the sky, the stars in the night and commands the sea with the sounds of His voice.

4. Strength doesn’t always look like we think it should. 

Strength will come in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. Maybe you’ve been praying for days, weeks, even years about a situation, and often you are weary. But all of a sudden, in a day, in a moment, God shows up on the scene and does the miraculous. I am reminded of the story of the dying slave in Luke 7:1-10. The Roman officer sent for Jesus to come to heal his slave. Ultimately, the slave is healed, but he isn’t healed when Jesus prays for him, fasts, lays hands on him, or even sees him. He is healed by the faith of another. That’s strange to me. He didn’t do anything to be healed, except ask, and it didn’t come in the traditional form that maybe I thought it should. But the healing and strength came, nonetheless. Someone reading today just needs to know that God sees you and that he will work things out for your good, in His timing, His way.

When we walk in authority, the authority Jesus paid for us to have, we begin to shift perspective and see ourselves differently. We see ourselves stronger. We see our purposes as bigger. Your strength is about the others in your life -- the lost – the dying -- the broken. Your hurt, your battle, was all for them. 

Is. 41:9-10, “I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying you are my servant. For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Is. 45:5-7, “I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord; there is no other. I create the light and make darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does the things.”

 Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE

*** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com. 

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Favor_of_God

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