The Single Parent’s Secret

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I recently became a contributor to my church’s newsletter “The Calvary Connection”. My column titled Fruit of the Womb will focus on parenting from a biblical perspective and is taken from the reference to children in Psalms 127:3. It reads “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.” I was thrilled to see the published piece, although it had to be cut for length. Below I include it in its entirety.


newsletterI still watch Jeopardy. A few nights ago, Alex answered, “This fish with no stomach has to eat almost constantly to stay alive.” The question, “What is a seahorse?” My first thought was what a miserable life. No time to really live because you’re constantly worried about simply surviving. As do most of us. We feed the flesh in an attempt to fill up our bank accounts, our love lives, our idea of happiness, yet we are never quite satisfied.  We never seem to reach our intended destination, do we? Always hungry. Always eating.

As a single mother of two boys, it’s tempting to focus on my lack as opposed to the provisions God has already afforded me. When I have a late meeting at work and I find myself rushing to pick up the twins on time, I say to myself “If I only had a husband, or a nanny or something…” In difficult months financially, I find myself stretching my dollars and I say, “If I only had a better paying job…”  When I compare myself to others, I say “If I could only buy a house…after all I should own one at this age…”  If only…If only…If only… And so I eat.  I rush through the days, the weeks, the months striving for that which I do not have, waiting and praying for God to give it to me.

But then, I am reminded in quiet and solitude of the words David spoke in Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” The literal translation, I lack NOTHING. God has promised to be a provider and a supplier of all of our needs and surely our Father knows what we need. Therefore, if we don’t have it, then we don’t need it to carry out His purpose in this season of our lives.

By the world’s standards and sometimes by our own, it is easy to believe we lack much as single parents, however we arrived here. One income, not two…and the burden of household responsibilities often fall on our shoulders alone. Yet Christ, by grace, has fulfilled all that we would lack, and stands in the gap between our limitations, and the needs of our household and our children.

One of my favorite scriptures is Phillipians 4:11-12 where Paul says:

“Actually I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned the [secret of contentment]  whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much, as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.” paraphrased The Message.

Rhonda Byrne wrote a self-help book in 2006 that sold over 19 million copies, has been translated into 46 languages and was featured on two episodes of the Oprah Winfrey show. I’m convinced it’s premise is pure plagiarism, harking on an age old idea and calling it novel.  The book aptly titled “The Secret,” speaks on the law of attraction, positive thinking, and tells us that the act of needing nothing, attracts everything.  But isn’t that precisely the same secret that Paul has been telling us about all along? Isn’t it what Christ himself has told us throughout the Gospel?  “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me, will find it.” Matthew 16:25 NIV

As single parents, let’s resolve within ourselves to be content in every situation. Let us not just say that we believe that God is a provider but let us really believe it. Paul has discovered the “secret” to doing this, which means this is information to which not everyone is privy. It’s fragile, it’s hidden and freely given by grace alone. A woman of contentment is aware of her needs and what God has already provided to meet them. I made a list. I labeled one side “My Needs”, and the other “How God is Meeting Them” and as I filled out the page, it became increasingly obvious that I have much to be grateful for. I keep my list handy for those times when doubt begins to creep in. I have resolved to put my fork down, enjoy my life, my children, and my current season one day at a time… to stop preparing to live, and start actually living, to remember that I am alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for me to be alive.

The Jeopardy clue stills stays with me. On second thought, the same is necessary of us. Like the seahorse, we must constantly eat spiritual things, feeding not the flesh, but the spirit, where life resides.  In doing so, we not only survive, but by an act of the supernatural, we also get to live.