By Melissa Walsh
As a single parent, do you feel as if you’re constantly moving? Are you facing one challenge after another? Do you regularly feel forced to expand well beyond your comfort zone physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
If you answered yes, I feel your pain, sister, because I’ve been there. For many years as a single working mom of four little boys, I was overwhelmed. overburdened, and overtaxed.
I was tired and lonely a lot. Mostly, I was scared. I fretted each month about making ends meet financially. Keeping a roof over my small sons’ heads, food in their mouths, and shoes on their feet were really tough to manage, that with childcare expenses. I was also concerned about not being there for my boys during the day, uncomfortable with having to hire a “mother” for them while I was at work. I constantly wondered whether they would be emotionally damaged by the whole single-parenting situation. I certainly felt emotionally damaged myself.
The sweet dreams I had for raising my children were shattered. Gone. Parenting instead became more akin to a scary, wild, dangerous adventure -- like finding the way out of a dark, critter-dwelling cave, or going whitewater rafting without life jackets. Many days it felt like zip-lining without a security harness.
During those years, I recall people saying to me, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Trying to hold a smile, I would think, “Sure he does!” Getting through each day was a miraculous feat of strength -- the kind of strength I couldn’t have mustered up without divine intervention.
Life for us for many years was surviving one day at a time. Each day I had to take a leap of faith into life, with the hope that God would catch me and my sons should we fall. And He did. In His grace, He strengthened me.
Those years were really hard and very painful, but amazingly, I’m grateful for them. They taught me and my sons so much about the world, about people, about struggle, and about how much God loves us.
...like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.
Deuteronomy 32:11 (NIV translation)
This verse is taken from the chapter of the Bible known as “The Song of Moses.” It’s a lyrical account of God’s leading and protection of the Israelites during their exodus out of slavery in Egypt and their journey to the Promised Land. God chose Moses to lead them through that frightful and miraculous adventure. Verse 11 is a metaphor within a larger passage that details God’s love and guard over His people.
Not only is the eagle imagery an illustration of God’s promise to His people, it is also a model of faithful and hopeful parenting.
Consider the verbs “to stir” and “to hover over.” The New Living Translation uses “rouse” instead of “stir.” The King James and American Standard versions use “flutter over” instead of “hover over.”
Do you have a visual in your mind? The eagle rouses, stirs her young. She wakes them up, gets them moving until they take a leap from the nest to learn what flight feels like. Then she hovers or flutters over them, watching them. Should they fall, she dives below them and catches them on her strong wings. She carries them back to the safety of the nest until it’s time for the next stirring into flight.
Remember that statement about God not giving you more than what you can handle? A better statement to a struggling single mom might be, “God grows your wings and its feathers. Care for them and trust in the strength God designed in them.”
You see, like eaglets, once we have grown wings and feathers, God allows seasons of irritating stirring from our comfy nests. Then He urges us to fly in faith. He tells us clearly in his word to trust him during our flight, to know that He’ll bear us on His wings should we fall.
God has designed special wings for each of us. And with our wings we tap power for flight. Our job is to clean and preen our wings, so that we may soar to great heights. Properly maintained, our wings can carry us through and above stormy weather. They’ll be sturdy enough for us to bear our children during flight.
Trusting that God has equipped us with strong wings, we can confidently parent our children, even without an earthly partner. In fact, I believe that God refurbishes and reinforces our wings when we find ourselves parenting in crisis. If we allow Him, He will lengthen our wing-span, grow our feathers longer, and strengthen our muscle to parent our children alone. He will also sharpen our senses and balance the winds.
Single moms are known to have some very powerful wings. How? God, that’s how.
Many individuals who have stepped out to do amazing things with their lives were raised by single moms. Pastor of my church of Kensington Orion, Dave Wilson, was raised by a single mom. So were Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Alexander Haig, Ed Bradley, Halle Berry, Alicia Keys, and Ricky Henderson.
Detroit’s own Ben Carson, the renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, was raised by a young woman who grew up in foster homes, was married at age 13, then was on her own to raise Ben and his brother alone. When Ben’s grades radically declined, she required him to read two books a week, among other disciplinary measures. His grades soared, and he grew up to become a great surgeon. Commenting about his life, Carson said, “My story is really my mother’s story.... Over the years my mother’s steadfast faith in God has inspired me, particularly when I had to perform extremely difficult surgical procedures or when I found myself faced with my own medical scare.”
Oh, the power of trusting God during struggle. He can meet us in our struggle in creative and awesome ways. (In my experience, He often shows up in humorous ways too -- a topic for a future blog entry.)
So as society seeks to label the single mom’s nest as “broken” and her eaglets “at-risk,” soar above shame and fear. With God, your family can be complete and your children can know and realize their purpose.
Our job is to care for our wings by praying and meditating on God’s word, to be alert to the needs of our brood, and to have faith that our heavenly father is watching over our single-parent flight. With God, you and your brood will soar to amazing heights.
...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV translation)