The most common grievance of single parents is that they do life alone. There is no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to help pay bills, no one to pick up a gallon of milk at the last minute. There is no one to share laughter and tears and enormous questions that comes with raising children.
This aloneness comes late at night when the house is quiet and you realize that, even with well meaning family and friends, you alone are responsible for every decision made that day. It comes when exhaustion sets in and self doubt slams home. It comes on holidays and birthdays when people ask where your kids are knowing full well they must be with their dad. It comes when you realize it’s already dinner time on your anniversary and that day has weirdly become just another “X” on the calendar. It comes unexpectedly when that nice man holds the door for you and you wonder if he’s single and when the woman ahead of you at the doctor’s office says she’d like her husband to be there for the same appointment you’re waiting for alone. It comes while hoping for texts from kids who are too busy to text and from empty bedrooms from children who have moved out, eager to put chaos and dysfunction behind them. Sometimes it comes most painfully in Church, in front of the Eucharist, with a community of believers who come in chatting happily and then rush off to family activities while you sit on a hard, cold, wooden pew alone.
There is an aspect of loneliness and isolation few who have not experienced single parenting can fathom. It sparks an almost palpable desire for relationship.
That desire for relationship is given to us by God. It is genuine and good and holy to want to be around others. It is a blessing to fill our world with the booming sound of laughter and the quiet companionship of working side-by-side. It is natural for men to seek a balance to the power of masculinity with the softness of a woman’s gentle touch. It is natural for a woman to seek the strength and courage of a man to balance her more trusting disposition.
I can already hear naysayers denying natural differences in men and women. They will read into this things I am not saying. Do not read into this that, because men tend to be stronger they are toxic or because women tend to be gentler they are weaker. Far from it! Men are designed to be warriors and must have strong women worth fighting for! While true women have a quiet strength that, when applied, can surpasses the brazen warrior stance.
Side Note: For incredible insight on the strength of women and how honest, God-ordained feminine strength changes societies, read the war novel Gates of Fire. It was recommended to me by US Special Forces who helped train me mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually on mindset, resilience, gratitude, and more. The book is gory and hard to read at times, but the ending blows the mind and shows the need for and blessing of having strong women in society! It is not a book for children, but it is a book for women and strong men!
Back to my point…
The desire for relationship is real. I will get into male-female relationships as well as parent-child relationships and those involving extended family, girlfriends, neighbors, coworkers, and even online relationships in future posts. What I most want to state here is that there is a God-ordained desire for relationships and that such a desire is good!
Free Will and Fragile Egos
Unfortunately, not every relationship is good, and no deep relationship can be forced or coerced. Relationships that attempt to do so never last long. Even in couples that stay together physically, a separation of trust and then love takes place. By not building on trust and love, they fail to build foundation of what all good relationships require.
Single moms know better than most how impossible it is to get someone to treat you right, never mind how impossible it is to get someone to love you when he chooses to be unloving. We know love can only be freely given through the gift of free will, which is a gift given by God. Free will allows each individual to choose to act rightly or act wrongly in every moment. Know God desires you to be treated well by your spouse but allows you to be treated poorly can be confusing. It damages relationships beyond the marital vow and extends to how single moms see the world and how the world sees the single mom. This happens without either the single mom or the world being aware of their own bias.
Mistreatment damages self-esteem. It wounds the soul and causes God’s children to question their worth and rightful place in God’s Kingdom. It can make a woman weakly seek harmful relationship, like a dog returning to his vomit (Proverbs). She seeks the familiar and gravitates toward the pain she knows rather than the discomfort she does not.
The converse is also often true. In these situations, a single mom sees red flags in everything and everyone. Any male becomes a potential abuser. She puts up walls or fires missals and becomes one who wounds through defense rather than one who heals through love, which is her natural God-ordained disposition.
So how do you begin building a relationship when you have been abused, neglected, abandoned, and mistreated? How do you build a relationship when your ego is shot and you know firsthand those you try to connect with leave, either through their own sinful choices or simply their own busy lives as is the case of many loving but self-involved friends and family? How do you build a relationship when those around you have immature free will and are unwilling to see anything worth loving in you?
A God First Relationship
God gives us these “empty” moments, periods without relationship, in our lives for a reason. Sometimes we may struggle to understand what His reasoning is and how to make the most of our emptiness, but we must always trust He has a purpose and a plan.
And one way or another, His purpose is to always to give us opportunity to draw closer to Him!
Because as much as we long for relationship, our Lord, who is Love in its purest, most glorious form, longs for a relationship with us far more!
The Lord made us in His image and likeness. That means our desire for relationship comes from Him. Our desire to have someone spend time with us in our suffering and in our joys comes from Him. Our desire to be heard and understood comes from Him. Our desire to be Loved and held comes from Him.
Our desire for relationship comes from God’s desire to be in relationship with each of us.
While we are out busily seeking relationship with those in the world, our Lord calls us to relationship with Him. While we seek attention of others, He waits patiently in the Tabernacle. While we turn to others for attention and glory, He sits on His Throne in the Monstrance of empty Churches hoping we will stop in. While we hope others will overlook our flaws and choose to love us anyway, our Creator intimately looks over our flaws and calls us to redemption. While we chase those we hope will find the will to love us, our Lord, in His perfect Divine Will, Loves us always and evermore.
A God first relationship does not deny the importance of human to human relationship. Instead it provides a model of love we can base every relationship on. Through finding a personal relationship with Jesus, we grow in confidence and develop skills of discernment, detachment, and positive struggle which are skills that are seldom spoken of and always needed in healthy, growing, trusting, loving relationships.
Every ounce of God’s Free Will is taken up with absolute Love. He understands your pain. He understands your loneliness. He understands your desires, and He thinks your desire to love and be loved are good!
And that is why He calls you to Him first of all.
If you are feeling alone now and wondering why God is allowing you to be in this position, if you are wondering why God has allowed your spouse to vilify his vows and are wondering when He will send your spouse back home to you, if you are wondering why you are alone when those who are less faithful seem to have countless fulfilling relationships, take some time to ask Jesus if it’s because He is chasing you and wants you to pause in your chasing of others.
If you want to have a fulfilling, positive relationship with one whose entire free will is guaranteed to Love you fiercely, turn first to the Lord. Go back to Him. Seek Him. Turn to Him.
Love Him, and your other relationships will begin to manifest themselves.
Join me next week, and I will begin to explain what it means to have a “personal relationship with Jesus,” and how you can begin to build your relationship with God.