I have the utmost respect for single mothers. Generally, parenting is hard. But in my experience, it has been even harder as a single parent. It changes the entire dynamic of parenting. You quickly realise how much is at stake. God has entrusted you to shepherd the life of another soul. You have the task of shaping their passion and hunger for God. And in many senses, you’re going at it alone.
That is not easy. Especially since we are each still on our own journey of growth and transformation, often without much support or godly counsel.
God has entrusted you to shepherd the life of another soul… And in many senses, you’re going at it alone
Support Is Scanty
In fact, I have witnessed Christian communities deliberately withdrawing support for single mothers. Why? They fear that it may appear that they are condoning fornication. But these communities fail to reconcile the call to challenge sin with the demand to love. Therefore, they struggle to love single mothers. This is all truth, and no love (Ephesians 4:15). It makes a stigma out of sin, cutting women off from the help they desperately need.
However, the tragedy of this approach goes further than the Church failing to care for its sisters in Christ. For some single women prefer the guilt of abortion than facing the shame that accompanies unwed parenting in the church space.
Single Mothers, God Is With You
From one single mother to another, I know that you may be dealing with a lot more than changing nappies and living from one paycheque to the next. Thus I want to encourage you this Mother’s Day that the Lord Jesus Christ—the incarnate expression of God’s own heart—has a special concern for mothers raising children on their own. You are a vital member of the body of Christ.
Jesus Christ has a special concern for mothers raising children on their own.
As a member of the body of Christ, there is no expectation from God to do your parenting out of your own strength. I know that many times we get caught up in the daily grinds of parenthood: preparing meals, getting kids to eat, doing homework, attending school meeting, picking up toys, establishing boundaries, the list goes on.
All those things are important. But one of our biggest priorities as parents is redirecting some of that energy to prayer and God’s word, immersing ourselves in the reality that God is with us; he’s walking alongside us.
Draw On His Strength
Parenting can feel like an impossible mandate. For many it’s not instinctive or organic. You’re regularly worn out, wanting to weep from weariness. When the daily checklist is completed all you want to do is close your eyes and sleep. Another day is coming. And you have to do it all again tomorrow.
Parenting can feel like an impossible mandate.
When we operate from our own strength, even our tone changes: “Pick up your toys, because I am sick of doing everything around here!” As parents we constantly battle our own selfishness and frailty. Therefore, without prioritising your own spiritual growth and healing, you will be unable to lay down inclinations towards bitterness and self-preservation. When provoked you will retaliate. And, unfortunately, children emulate your example and attitude.
Your role is to shepherd your child’s heart. You are there to lead them on a journey of forgiveness, patience, love, and more. So pursue a strong biblical foundation and active prayer life. Trust me – we all need to prioritise our own faith and personal devotions before we can hope to help anyone else. All your battles as a single mother – or any mother – begin in the heart.
All your battles as a single mother – or any mother – begin in the heart.
God Uses Parenting To Disciple You
Also, it may or may not surprise you that God uses these tiny wonderful souls to shape the parent! God uses children in a very radical way to form the character of Christ in us. Though it may not always feel like it as a single mother, children are indeed a blessing, “a fruit of the womb, a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)
Furthermore, they can function as catalysts for sanctification. They teach parents patience. If they are like my daughter they rebuke you, reminding you every chance they get what the Bible says; “Mommy, you’re sleeping at this time, but the Bible says you must not be lazy.” I’m sure you know what I mean!
Children also provide us with examples to be followed, as Christ has indicated (Matthew 18:1-9). They embrace life with great humility, knowing full well that they are not in control of their lives. Therefore children must place complete trust in their parents. Christ taught that this is an illustration of Christian faith: dependent, simple, and humble.
God uses children in a very radical way to form the character of Christ in us.
Single Mothers, You Are Not Alone
An unexpected child also brings countless needs, along with huge expectations. There really is no ‘7 step plan’ to doing the job right. There is no manual, so it can be overwhelming. And that’s okay. I have cried more times as a mother than I did as a child. Half of the time you have no idea what you are doing. Often as a single mother you face a lot of guilt and are regularly confronted with your own failings. However, you are not alone.
God is seated on the throne of grace and I can testify that from the very first day I found out I was pregnant, God was present. But we often only appreciate this in hindsight. I know that when I fell pregnant my heart was far away from God. Yet he has worked wonderfully in my life.
My Own Testimony: Pointing To God’s Goodness
I was a 22-year-old varsity student, thriving academically and socially. Then I saw two pink lines – I was devastated. Yet, strangely, I immediately entered into a dialogue with God. I was asking, (desperately!) “How could God make me a mother right now? So young, broken, and below the poverty line, how could I add another beating heart into this chaos?”
However, I also asked myself: “Who am I to question God?” Without error, God had intentionally formed a new life in my womb. He had called me to motherhood.
Every part of me wanted to turn my body into a graveyard and only count birthdays in memory.
It was his sacred and unique work growing in my belly, not some inconvenient tissue to be discarded. My soul was in combat. But I could not consider any other choice. Sure, I was aware that I had the choice to erase this conception in secret. Every part of me wanted to turn my body into a graveyard and only count birthdays in memory. This decision would also lessen the questions. I could avoid becoming the college stereotype: young, single, and pregnant.
But God became real for me that year. So real that my daughter’s first screams sounded like gospel. Her smile broke my heart into fragrant worship, testifying of the Lord’s goodness. I looked on his common grace, the sun that shines on both the good and evil (Matthew 5:45). Thankfully, today I can testify as well of his redeeming work.
My Prayer For All Single Mothers
What has brought me comfort throughout this journey is walking alongside him. My prayer for all single mothers is to embrace the truth that “God is with us.” Our great high priest, who understands and sympathises with our weaknesses, invites us to come boldly when we feel inadequate and discouraged (Hebrews 4:15).
Do not be held captive by your past sins. Admit them, repent, and rejoice in his forgiveness.
In Christ we will find mercy for our failures and grace for the journey. He grants wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5). We enjoy the bold access to God’s presence every day (James 4:8-10). So turn in prayer to the one who empowers parents of all stripes to teach and love their children. And because of his grace, do not be held captive by your past sins. Admit them, repent, and rejoice in his forgiveness.
Through his sacrificial work, the Lord Jesus Christ has washed us clean (Hebrews 10:22). Cling to him and search for a Christian community that will support and encourage your faith and parenting.