Fear of Failure

There is a very real fear that I struggle with in being a single mom.  I fear that I will fail.  I fear that although I do all I think is right for my son, that this divorce and this one-sided parenting without a constant dual influence will ultimately cause pain and failure to his bright future.  I fear he will end up a statistic of the "Fatherless Home Syndrome".  Will he be labeled a failure if I fail in doing the best I can?  Is the best I can, good enough?  I know where that fear comes from and I know it is not of the Lord.

Society instills that fear in us as single parents.  Our kids are going to struggle more and our kids are going to feel an emptiness because of the lack of a solid relationship with parent #2.  Society also pushes the single parent to feel proud of doing it all alone.  That we can be proud that we are doing it without another parent in the picture.  People praise a single parent who has worked so hard to provide a good life for his/her children.  They esteem such a hard worker, but not too hard of a worker.  Work too hard and you are failing your kids or don't work enough and you again are failing.  People do not praise failure.  It's a lose-lose feeling that we need to come to terms with almost daily.  

I recently even saw a Facebook page that was entitled, "Proud Single Moms".  That title really had me pondering on the question, "Am I a proud single mom?"  Am I proud that I get up day after day and complete the work of two and even though exhausted, I continue to press forward as my promise to be the best I can be for my son?  Yes.  In that I am proud...of myself.  However, am I proud to be divorced and that my entire future fell before me in pieces that I was left to pick up while juggling motherhood?  No.  Absolutely not.  I am not proud to be a single mother, but I rejoice in the single mother God is molding me to be.  He is teaching me things everyday about myself and how to overcome the struggles that go along with single-motherhood.

For this, I know that fear of failure has no hold over me.  It is something I consistently have to remind myself.  If we are truly leaning to God in all circumstances, even the hard ones, then we can rest without fear of failure.  Let our homes be of such that our children know their heavenly Father and that they watch our examples of how to live with Him first.  God allows us all to fail but never refers to us as "failures".  I choose to look at my son as a work in progress, just like his mom and together we can rise above the fear of failing.

Power Down

This past weekend, my son and I spent time with friends in a cabin at the Hot Springs over two hours away from our home and normal routine.  It's pretty amazing how even a small getaway trip can bless you in ways you did not anticipate.  I went on this weekend trip thinking the obvious; we would get time together, experience nature at its finest, take a breather from reality and come back feeling refreshed and ready to begin another week back to the same schedule as before we left.  Best part of all was that this weekend getaway was a gift from my friends in exchange for me babysitting while they went skiing.  We approached this weekend with excitement and a grateful heart for this tremendous blessing!

What we encountered was a completely exhausting weekend full of experiences with friends, little sleep, and spiritual encounters with blessings beyond our imagination.  My son was able to experience life in a cabin with 8 kids and 4 adults.  He had to adjust to many personalities, messes, frustrations and ultimately situations that tested his walk with the Lord.  At eight years old, I am beginning to witness his godly decisions even when he fails at first and then seeks forgiveness.  It was difficult to be unplugged from the world for me and it wasn't until I embraced that my cellphone wasn't catching a signal and my wireless internet wasn't either that I truly began to soak in all of my surroundings.  I woke early on our last day there simply overwhelmed with God placing us there at that exact time to encounter those moments.  As I stood on the porch looking out over the bustling stream amongst the trees and snow, I was taken aback by the beauty and intricacy of all God's creation.  I sang to Him, I cried tears of thankfulness, and most of all, I felt all of God's creation and beauty embracing me in my journey as a single mother.  I am strong and I am not walking this path alone.  I am cared for and am a child of the most powerful God.  He reminded me of His words in  Matthew 6: 25-34 in those moments.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

So amongst the day in and day out of the single parent routine, if you can, take some time to just sit and soak in all that God has created.  Absorb, truly absorb God's love for you,  your children and His promise to fulfill your needs.  

Respect Yourself

People love to test boundaries.  It seems that you get courage enough to finally set some boundaries for your life to enable self-respect and along comes the "tester" who wants to weigh in on your decision or make you feel less adequate for feeling that the line you drew needed to be there.  As a single parent, your reasons of why you have created boundaries can vary greatly.  Did you set them out of past hurts, current fears, or are they genuine good ideas that show yourself ready for the respect you deserve? 

Whatever boundaries we have created, it is important for us to analyze why we put them up.  Some boundaries are very healthy and should remain in tact.  Others may have been put up out of hurts and may need to be adjusted as you heal.  We like to call those "walls" as opposed to "boundaries".  This is something that I am currently struggling with.  Which boundaries are healthy and which are not.  Wherever you are on the scale of your boundary making/adjusting here are some ideas on how to further show respect to yourself.

1) Do not waiver on your morality.  The worst thing you can do to your self esteem is to become what you know is not morally right.  It's a downward spiral that can lead to depression and a major loss of self respect.

2) Speak positively about yourself. Psalm 139:14 says "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Be your own cheerleader.
3) Don't let what others say or think about you, shape how you feel about yourself.  

4) Work on improving yourself spiritually, physically, mentally,  and financially.

5)  Make a list of your positive attributes and strengths.  Try to focus on these aspects of yourself.