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.