Where does one start rebuilding life after it’s been hit by a Mack truck? There are so many aspects of daily living that need to be addressed. Parenting, bill, paying, employment, shopping, and housekeeping are just a few. The success of each of those and dozens of other things Married couples take for granted depends on the faith, mindset, and physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness of the loyal parent. It is overwhelming!
One of my biggest challenges in early single parenting was knowing where to begin and what to focus on. It seemed literally everything needed my attention. What's worse, is that I was the only one responsible for handling it all
Sure, many offered to help, and I could have asked others for additonal help too, but I didn’t know where to begin and the pain and difficulty can drag on for years, much longer than many think and long after many assume you should have "moved on" whatever that means. Besides, at the end of the day, helpers returned to their homes and their lives, and I would lay my head on my pillow alone, fully responsible and fully culpable for the successes and defeats of the day.
Doing everything, as single parents are often forced to attempt to do, is impossible. While it may seem we can handle everything for a while, it is not a good long-term strategy. Research is proving multi-tasking is not something most of us do well and prolonged stress without proper outlets and support has long term consequences for those who experience it and also for those in extended areas of influence.
To deal with this, we must eliminate the "need" to do everything and choose areas of focus.
This is why I have chosen to focus on three areas of Catholic, single parenting
- building relationships,
- mindset, routines,
- and self-care.
Why Exactly Three Pillars of Single Parenting?
It's been said the triangle is the strongest shape although some may present a valid argument in favor of the circle, which has its own benefits that can be discussed in another piece. Avoiding the straight mathematical and scientific evidence of the strength of three sided figures, there are plenty of examples of "good things coming in threes" that inspire myself and my programs.
The first and foremost Good Thing is of course, the Holy Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in presenting the wholeness of God. Any one aspect of the Divine would be more than enough for the entirety of creation and eternity; however God, in His infinite Goodness and Wisdom knows expressing Himself in three distinct parts serves His Beloveds best. It is impossible to adequately explain the beauty and Love of the three Holy Beings so I will not spend my 30 minutes of writing time trying. What I will say is that through history, since the beginning of time, God has shared pieces of Himself with His children as we needed and were ready for. He does not need three parts of Himself to exist, but He joins with Himself in the complete unity of Divine Love. He allows us to get to know each part of HImself, not in a competitive nature, but in a creative nature. He knows each of us will seek out and embrace different aspects of His Trinity at different points of our lives and so He gifts us the Grace of one God in Three Divine Persons.
Mankind is created in the image and likeness of God. This means mankind's most sacred institutions are also created in his image and likeness. We see the Trinity reflected in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony through the union of Husband, Wife, and the Lord. That union then furthers creation in God's image and likeness through the Blessing of offspring and the union of Father, Mother, and Children.
Moving into the practical, the human mind was created to remember things in small chunks, usually in threes, from phone numbers to social security numbers to shopping lists and childhood rhymes. Do not let naysayers sway you. While bad things sometimes come in threes, it is proven time and again that good things also come in threes!
Because of all of this, the Holy Trinity, being created in the image and likeness of God, our Sacraments and the Blessings that come from them, and the development of the human mind, I have chosen three pillars of Catholic single parenting. I pray they help those in need to find joy and peace, love and happiness, strength and courage in life's beautiful battles.
Why Faith & Prayer Are Not Pillars of Catholic Single Parenting
I needed to develop buckets and a plan for overcoming the trauma of abandonment, broken relationships, divorce, abuse, crisis pregnancy, single parenting, and so on, but I struggled with finding the "right" buckets to form the pillars of a solid program. After years of research, both formal and informal study, and much trial and error, I will unwaveringly affirm how vital frequent interactions with the Lord and the ability to call on the entirety of His Army of Angels and Saints, the Church Triumphant, Church Penitent, and those of us still here in the Church Militant are to finding personal fulfillment, but I could not figure out how to put that into a pillar. I also knew many single parents are not ready to hear to their recovery depends on resting in a God who seems so far away when He is most needed and when there is so much busyness to be done!
In the midst of crisis, few have time and energy, or maybe it's patience and focus, for platitudes like, "God will provide." Overwhelm and immediate evidence seems to show otherwise. With family crashing down around them, mental and emotional abuse rampant, and an utter loss of purpose, worth, and dignity, seeing God's loving hand and provision in our intimate messes is beyond difficult. Because of this, I decided, not to leave God out of the pillars, but to leave Him out of publicly stated pillars.
I tossed around pillars labeled decluttering, detaching, and developing. Later I changed the pillars to fun, freedom, and family. Then I moved on to pillars of resilience, optimism, and opportunity.
But none felt right.
I knew my recovery would not be as far along as it is without God at my center. Pillars of trauma as great as that of broken families had to include the Father of Creation as a main support!
I tried adding a faith pillar to the program. I experimented with pillars of growth, gratitude, and Grace and then fitness, finances, and friendship. I tried making pillars of prayer, penance, and peace.
But still, none felt right.
I was compartmentalizing our Lord. I was making Him a pillar when He is so much more than that!
I had to find a way to build upon God as the wholeness of the program without shoving Jesus down the throats of those who need Him but have trust issues and would rather do things on their own after having been so burned by love already.
On a side note: I humbly admit I have been guilty of that too often and have, at times, done more harm than good. I still pray daily that God softens my words and gives me a heart to lead in Love rather than in demand. I am very much a work in progress and would appreciate your including me and those I minister to in your prayers!
To build a program of fulfillment and peace, of love and joy God had to be the center.
At the same time, in order to become victors, victims needed to know there was good and hope for them on a practical and personal level. The pillars needed to focus on the individual and actionable steps one could do even in the busyness of seemingly endless days of trying to resdicover oneself while also trying to stick fingers in the holes of several over flowing life dams.
That's when I knew the pillars would be building relationships, mindset routines, and self care. These pillars focus on the individual and things she can control no matter what is going on around her. They are practical and actionable. They aid in the discovery of self worth and a reassurance of having a purpose in God's plan. They offer remedies with strictly Catholic Christian principles and promote virtue through challenge, simplicfication, and Grace.
If you notice, prayer, gratitude, and even God are not pillars. They cannot be even if every woman in the program were consecrated to the Lord. This is for one very simple reason.
God is not a pillar.
He is the foundation our pillars are balanced on. He cannot be compartmentalized. He is not left in or left out based on what markets best or whether people are ready for Him or not.
The Lord is who Am.
He is the basis for everything.
He IS fulfillment.
The pillars of recovery do not include God, they must be built entirely upon Him so that He and His power and grace and Love seem up and into every aspect of what builds us. We must pray for God to infuse Himself into every aspect of all three pillars and that He softens hearts and leads those who need to hear Him here.
God & You, United in The Three Pillared Stool
God is the foundation of recovery, but He is so much more than that too. He is instrumental and vital in the formation of who we become, and we have a choice of whether we allow Him to build legs for us to stand on or turn and try to live life on our own.
It is pretty much guaranteed that trying to live life on your own will get you quick results. It is also pretty much guaranteed that those quick results do not last and always lead to greater heartbreak down the road. It is so easy to see this happening in the lives of others and so difficult to see happening within our own selves. The devil gives us what we say we want only to tear it out from under us later. He thinks he's funny that way!
The Lord on the other hand, calls you to build slowly on Him. He asks you to let Him be your rock. He asks you to let Him be your foundation. He asks you to build, not on a pillar that includes Him but on a foundation for life that is infused with Him in every respect. He asks you to rest at the top of the pillar, solidly paralleling His foundation. He invites you to be His image and likeness as the stool on which your children and family, Church and world count on. He asks you to allow Him to be a place of rest by choosing to rest firmly on Him.
Please pray for this program, that the pillars I have chosen spark the interest of the weary and worn down. Pray they lead the broken and searching to find hope and peace. Pray the pillars are infused with the Holy Spirit and that every aspect of this program leads in Love.
I have so much more to say, but my hour is up. Next week I will discuss more in detail what the three pillars are and how I hope they help bring peace, passion, and purpose to those in need.
In the meantime, please continue to pray for our hurting world, for our Church, our priests, and uncompromised, unity under the Trinity, hurting families, and of course my boys and me.
Thank you so much!
Join me every Monday for reflections on Sunday's readings and every Saturday for tips on loving a fulfilling, joyful life in our broken world.