I’ve been a single mom since 2003. My daughter was four and my son was one when my marriage dissolved. I couldn’t believe that my marriage was over.
I was heart broken.
I failed my kids.
The guilt, responsibility and shame I felt was overwhelming. My kids would no longer be living in one home with a mom and a dad. I didn’t want to have my kids grow up in a home without both their parents living together; I grew up in a broken home and I knew what it felt like.
On top of trying to understand what happened with my marriage, I was neck deep in trying to be a single parent to a toddler and a preschooler. I no longer had my husband as a support person. We shared our parenting time, separately. Now, a document dictated when I could see my kids and how often I could see them. It’s almost like we were enemies. A man I loved with my whole heart I now had to fight with to share parenting time.
I was missing milestones. The first day of school. First lost tooth. Holiday’s were split between mom and dad and Christmas was the hardest. Waking up on Christmas morning without the giggling and sounds of kids excited and eager to open to their presents. Getting ready for school dances without both mom and dad around. A First Date. Doctor’s appointments with life-changing diagnosis were attended alone. I hated that life as I hoped and dreamed was nothing like the reality of what it actually was.
Even though I was frustrated, hurt, broken-hearted, overwhelmed, confused, and alone, I was still a mom. I still needed to keep an open dialogue and good relationship with their father. We had to learn how to co-parent because although I was feeling all of these feelings, what my kids needed the most was the love from both of us. I could not hold them back from a relationship with their father. He loves them just as much as I do.
I quickly learned that in order for my ex husband and I to co-parent well together, I needed to forgive him for the pain and choices that were made. I had to let go of holding on to the blame, pain and anger that I was carrying around. How was I going to do that? How could I release all of the hurt feelings and sit next to him at our kids sporting events? Or at parent teacher conferences? Or at award assemblies? At graduation? How do we parent when we don’t agree?
So I began to do the only thing that I could think of; I prayed.
When I started praying for him, I noticed that my heart towards him changed. I was slow to argue and quick to lay aside my pain for the new relationship that was forming. I had to learn how to parent with him not as my spouse, but as their father. I had to honor him and in turn honor my children.
It was not on my own strength I was able to forgive him. It wasn’t easy either. I pray for their father every day. I want the best for him. I pray for him as a father. I pray for his relationships. I pray for his heart. Without him, I would not be a mom. How can I not pray for him?
I am thankful for him. I love being a mom. It brings me joy, shows me how to love unconditionally, encourages me to seek God in prayer, and teaches me about forgiveness.
These are some verses that have meant something to me:
Luke 6:37 – Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.
James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Phil 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
In the Message, I love how these few verses are written:
Matthew 5:43-47 – You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
Stacy Carter has been attending Grace Chapel since 2005. She loves the beach, baking and reading. Her job title might be “Pastoral Assistant”, but she’s really the glue of the Grace Chapel office! Her beautiful character radiates from within.