Within the last nine months, my divorce was finalized, and my husband remarried. Not long ago, I went to the pool with my ex-husband, his wife, and our five kids. I sat in the background and watched them: a family having fun playing ball. They looked like a team, like a complete family, and I felt like an outsider. I felt alone. It’s been hard.
I’m thankful that my kids live with me, but when they’re gone, I struggle a lot. At times I feel like I’m on my own, like an outsider in my own family, and sometimes I can feel really sad and depressed. Sometimes I think, “Does their stepmom handle things better than me? Is she more patient than me? Do my kids like being with her and their dad more than with me?”
Because of the divorce, I’m often alone. I want to be okay with being alone, but I’m struggling. Even going to church is hard. I see families with both husbands and wives. Seeing that family unit with both parents helping with the kids is a reminder that I don’t have that and that I’m alone in parenting. It’s even harder when my kids are not with me. In fact, sometimes I don’t want to go to church, as seeing other families there is a reminder that my kids are gone. The weekends without them are really hard.
The LORD who goes before me and never leaves
Recently, I was reading a passage in Deuteronomy 31 where God promises that He will go with the Israelites into the Promised Land. Moses says to the people, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”(Deuteronomy 31:8). I know that God was walking with me the entire time through the divorce. I am not alone. He’s with me through all of it: anxiety, depression, school, and being overwhelmed. I know that God has already gone before me and that He continues to go before me (Deuteronomy 31:3). I still don’t want to be walking through the difficulties of divorce, and I still feel affected by everything. But it is comforting to know that God is with me through it all.
There’s been a lot of loss: my family unit, my life in Florida, my marital home, my marriage, my time with my kids. I went from being with them every minute of the day to working full time and going to school full time. At times I feel like I’m losing them to another family and another mom. It almost feels like a loss of motherhood. But God is always going to be there with me. He will not leave me or abandon me. There’s not going to be a loss in the future with Him. He’s the one thing that I can never lose. He’s also leading me. It’s exhausting being a leader in my home as a single mom. I don’t feel like I’m doing it well. When I remember that God is the one leading and going ahead of me, I can rest in the truth that He’s sovereign and all knowing and that I don’t need to be afraid.
Running after life or death?
Sometimes I’m tempted to fill the loneliness with other gods which the Bible calls idols. (Deuteronomy 30:17). When I go to other things before God, it’s like I’m worshipping them instead of God. I’m tempted to run to worldly things, even ones that aren’t life-giving, to fill that void instead of running to the Lord. Sometimes I’m not content with going to God first, even though it always ends up being the best thing for me.
Deuteronomy 30:15–19 is a wakeup call for me. I have choices to make. What ways am I walking in? Are these ways life-giving or death-giving? When I’m not walking in His ways, it’s like a deadening of my spirit. The enemy is good at what he does: sin looks good and feels good, and so I make excuses for not turning to God when I’m tempted. Also, at times I’m tempted to believe that God may not be able to provide what I need financially and relationally. I feel defeated, weak, discouraged, and vulnerable, and it’s hard to walk by faith. I do believe what God says, but at times I don’t apply it.
Jesus my Savior and Provider
Sometimes I feel bad asking for forgiveness over and over again, but I know God forgives me even for repetitive sins. He forgives my sin daily, because of what Jesus has done for me on the cross. I am thankful that He forgives, as He always calls me back, tries to reach me and wants the best for me. Jesus saved me from death and gave me life and an eternal mindset so I can be focused on the eternal and not worldly things. I’m thankful for His guidance and love. That’s His grace. He could be a God that only says, “You need to obey.” But He’s such a loving God. He wants me to be obedient, but I’m so thankful to see how He stays with me and doesn’t given up on me when I fall into sin. I’m thankful for His commandments even though I struggle with them.
When I ask for help in battling sin, I know God will help me and give me power to fight it, even though it’s hard to do. God has also given me a desire to live for Him and be holy like Him. He’s still doing those same things: being a light unto my path, leading me and providing for me. He’s still chasing after me in many different ways. I’m so thankful for His provision of other Christians in my life, those who I work with and have fellowship with, as I see His love through these people. Sometimes I’m just struggling with opening my Bible, and then the Lord gives me a friend to speak scripture to me. These life-giving relationships are from Him. I feel like He’s carrying me, using these friends, other believers, and my church to help me when I’m too weak. My friends are struggling as well, but I see they’re also going to God and desiring Him, which encourages me. God even carries me through my lack of obedience when He makes me aware of my sin.
Faith that comes from God
God tells me to “be strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:7), but most of the time I feel so weak. I don’t feel courageous. But faith is not “doing it on my own,” but depending on God, who says, “I go with you and before you.” This is huge. I’m realizing that He is the one who provides me with strength and courage. By faith, I can do what God asks me to do: love Him, obey Him, and hold fast to Him (Deuteronomy 30:20).
Sometimes when I reach out to my friends, they don’t always tell me what I want to hear, but I’m thankful for that. When God shows me my sin, I can ask for forgiveness for those sins and ask Him to help me not to sin. I can also ask for the Lord’s help in leading my kids in confession as I pray with them, and I can ask for the fruits of the spirit, such as self-control. Listening to godly friends, attending church and LIFE Group, reading scripture, and praying are ways for me to choose life. When I do these things, it is always the best thing for me.
There are some days I just get so depressed. I think, “What’s worth living for?” and I realize I’m just thinking about my life and situation rather than the Lord. But I can make a choice to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). I want to strive to find things to be thankful for and praise God through worship music, which helps drive other thoughts away. I can also start my day by opening my Bible and being reminded of His promises in His Word. Turning to God, Talking to Him, and have that open communication with Him helps me have an eternal mindset which changes my focus and helps me feel more peaceful. Overall, I want to seek ways to serve God and love others for His kingdom and glory. He is my life (Deuteronomy 30:20).