[Editor’s note: posts by D. P. Love are from our intern]
The Lord led me through many challenging seasons as a single mother. My son is now grown, and yet the memories of my wrestling with the Lord are fresh. If you are reading this and this is your story, I pray that you will take heart in the struggle. I know it is a long road. Maybe you will recognize your own voice in the prayers and reflections below.
Oh, Jesus, hold on to me. At times like this, I see so clearly that I am near the edge of a steep emotional cliff where just one wrong step will send me flying downward in fear and uncertainty. During these times as a single parent, I realize my greatest act of faith is to keep believing in You, to believe You care for me and my son, to believe that you know all about my struggles to be a good parent, my need for money to buy gas and food, and my sheer exhaustion from work and being responsible, all the time with no breaks, no help.
I prayed these words so many times. The exhaustion was unrelenting.
“I’m so tired. I long to rest, to be in a comfortable, secure place of safety and care, and yet there is no such practical place of refuge. I must keep going, day after day, one foot in front of the other, and yet I need faith. More striking to me than believing our basic necessitates will be met is the need to believe, and to hope, Dear Lord, that my son will continue to grow in You. I need faith to believe that one day he will follow You with all his heart, mind, and soul, and that when all is said and done, I myself will be found faithful in You, too.”
Then the attacks came.
“Cynically my mind asks, ‘Why do you keep insisting on being a Christian? You could give in to what others do–find a man to live with you to help with the finances, to ease your loneliness, to help with your son. You don’t have to be married. Look out for yourself and your needs; after all, if you don’t, nobody else will.’”
I tried to fight back,
“In my heart, I know that is not Your way, so I keep calling out to You in my desire to live life Your way as a single parent. At times I am depressed and lonely. How I wish you were here, Jesus, to hold me and physically assure me of Your love and faithfulness. But, that is not possible, at least not on this side of heaven.”
In the midst of my struggles, my fears, my loneliness, my questioning, I was reminded often of Peter’s words in the gospel of John… Where else can I go? There is nowhere else to go, for You indeed hold the words of life (John 6:68). My mind was drawn to the decision point, the choice, the surrender. Where else would I go? I wanted a stubborn faith.
“I choose to keep believing in You. And, I have been hoping that when I make this choice for You over and over again just to get through the day, You would reward me with feelings of calmness and peace… that I would sense Your love comforting me. But many times, the feelings don’t come. Instead I often feel cold and lonely without any tangible assurance of Your presence. Still, in the starkness of my lonely bedroom, You give me the desire to choose to love You anyway, to entrust myself to You again. And somehow the strength of this purposeful choice once again carries me forward into Your presence. In reality, You do help me to trust and rest in You.”
The stakes were high. There was no sliding into nominal faith, no halfway. Either this God would be my refuge, or I demanded one elsewhere. The pain was too great, and the fears were too real.
“I see the cliff so clearly. I know one step would be my undoing, yet God prompts me to look up instead of down. You enable me to believe You are here in spite of every whispering doubt. God is here. You give me fresh eyes of faith to see Your hand at work, to focus on Your beauty and purpose beyond my current view, and that’s more than enough to keep me going. Thank you for the power and potential of choosing to believe that I may ‘come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’”
This was no formula, no quick fix, no “and now I’m rejoicing all the day.” But in the valley of the shadow of death, God met me. He gave me the desire and the faith to believe in Him in spite of all my trials and difficulties as a single parent. He proved that He does indeed provide all that is needed. More than that, He gave me the greatest security a young single mom could ever want… He gave me Himself.
As my grown son and I think back over those years, we can now say with the Psalmist, “Our mouth was filled with laughter; and our tongue with shouts of joy. . . . The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” (Psalm 126:2-3).