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Solo Parent Society

Solo Parent Society

The Solo Parent Society podcast is hosted by author and founder Robert Beeson to help single parents raise healthy kids, and grow themselves through conversations with other parents who have walked, or are still walking the 'Solo Parent' path. Plus experts on the things that Solo Parents face the most. The mission of Solo Parent Society is to provide the resources, community, and support that enables a single-parent to discover whole-heart wellness so that their family can thrive.

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How to Have Balanced Thinking


Single parents, we know you have so many balls in the air. In the chaos, your minds are often filled with jumbled thoughts too. Each of us has limited ability and time to meet the expectations placed on us. Living deliberately can elude us. Often our focus is on simply keeping our kids healthy and fed as our thoughts swirl with work issues, financial strain, and questions on just how we are going to get it all done.

This week we are talking about balanced thinking. We know how important our minds are in shaping how we feel, how we choose to live our lives, and how we parent. If we can be more balanced in our thinking, we can be better parents for our kids.

Three strategies to renew our minds and have more balanced thinking are:

Choose your battles. Let go of consuming thoughts. Give yourself permission to let some things go. You cannot give equal time to everything.

Right size your expectations. Remember, you are not two parents. You are only one. You are capable of only so much. Take the pressure off yourself!

Redefine success through God's eyes. Realize that you are living for an Audience of One, our heavenly Father who loves us. Living through the lens of God's acceptance and approval helps us redefine our priorities and choose what is most important instead of living according to the push and pull of what the world tells us.

For complete show notes and links go to - https://soloparentsociety.com/blog/2021/01/11/how-to-have-balanced-thinking 

Previous Episodes

How to Find Daily Spiritual Balance - Jake Smith


Balance: How to Find Daily Spiritual Balance

"Any theology or any way of living that doesn't lead back to loving God and loving others with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength is actually bad theology." - Jake Smith, founder of Plumline www.shamahway.com www.jakesmithjr.com

We want to be deliberate about finding balance in 2021 and that starts with our spiritual lives. And that's what we talk about this week on our podcast - how to find daily spiritual balance.

Finding balance is difficult for all of us but single parents find it particularly challenging. Many of us don't experience consistent balance. Rather, we tend to live going between highs and lows as we try to juggle everything on our plates while being a solo parent.

Our guest this week is Jake Smith, a former pastor who created a non-profit called Plumline which is centered on personal development and spiritual, emotional, and relational health. Plumline offers weekly groups that lead individuals through a process that helps them integrate their heart, mind, soul, and strength as they relate to God, themselves, and others.

If we are to find godly balance in our lives, integrating these areas is essential.

Jesus talked about this in Mark 12 when he answered the question spiritual leaders posed, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" Jesus' response was to quote the Shamah. "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." In Matthew 22, he addresses the same questions and says, "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

"If we want to summarize what Jesus is all about, or if we want to summarize the Scriptures, in a nutshell, Jesus did that for us. He said this is essentially the core of everything. Any theology or any way of living that doesn't lead back to that, loving God and others with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength is actually bad theology. So, when we talk about balance, we can pull from what Jesus said is most important by looking at our spiritual anatomy - our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. These are unique parts of us, and we need all four parts to developed and interconnected. This is how we can show up to life and to our relationships - with our kids, with our colleagues, at work - with the fullness of our design." - Jake Smith

So, when we talk about balance, we need to consider these four parts of our "spiritual anatomy" that Jesus talks about in the Shamah because this is how he asks us to relate to God and to others.

What does it look like to show up to my life with my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength, in an interconnected way, to the people and things who matter most?

Elizabeth, a single mom through divorce, has been part of Plumline groups for the past year. As an Enneagram 7, she tends to avoid her feelings and run from them. She tends to go toward the area of strength first and foremost, but Plumline has taught her that she doesn't need to be afraid of the other areas. It's given her the ability to trust God more and understand that her feelings help her connect to Him more. Elizabeth uses the Shamah Way app to check in daily on how she's feeling, be honest about it, and pay attention to all the four parts of her spiritual anatomy. Just identifying what she's experiencing in her heart, mind, soul, and strength, helps her walk through her day with God, integrating all of them, rather than just one or two.

The tendency is to live dominantly from one or two of these parts. Some of us live from our minds as "thinkers", others live as "doers" acting in their strength most. If we only live from our feelings, we may become overwhelmed emotionally and get stuck, not acting in our strength when we need to. The key to daily spiritual balance is paying attention to each of these areas and living from a place of integration. Instead, we often overuse an area we are comfortable while neglecting other parts of ourselves that may be more difficult for us to access or acknowledge.

For example, we may excel at strategizing and putting a plan in place but be less able to recognize our feelings. When this happens, we may show up for a heart conversation with our mind instead and miss an important opportunity to connect with someone we care about at a deeper level. When we overuse or underuse any of these areas, we find ourselves imbalanced, hindered in our ability to connect in a healthy way with God, with ourselves, and with others.

Learning to live from a place of integration with all four parts is a daily spiritual practice. It's called spiritual practice because we need to do "daily reps" in each area. We must practice within the arena of the four significant parts of you. As single parents, the deck is stacked against us in using each area because we are often so busy getting through our day and getting things done, we use our minds and strength only and neglect our heart and soul. A key area of practice for single parents is being intentional about paying attention to those parts of you too.

If you need to find ways to practice daily spiritual balance, this podcast is a great place to start!

Single parents, as you seek balance in this new year, you are not alone. As you walk the journey of solo parenting, we want to offer encouragement and hope any way we can. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups meeting Monday through Saturday every week. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@soloparentsociety). Subscribe to our weekly podcast via AccessMore or wherever you get your podcasts and download our Solo Parent app FREE in the app store. We love to connect single parents to resources that offer hope and help. If you want to donate so we can reach more single-parent families, go to www.soloparentsociety.com. Questions? Email us at info@spsociety.com.

Emmanuel: God With Us in Newness


 The holidays can be very difficult for single parents. The one thing we can count on is change, like changes in tradition and changes is time with our kids. What we once knew is often now very different. Gd promises He will turn all things to good and that He is doing a new thing in our lives, but the idea of newness and change can still make us uneasy. Our dreams that have been shattered leave us picking up the pieces while walking into a new frontier. We don't know how things are going to turn out especially after facing the unexpected already.

How do you embrace the new and encounter God in newness?

1. Identify past dreams and past realities - Be authentic and take inventory of what you have lost and how you are feeling. Take time to grieve specific losses. If you move on too quickly, you can stay stuck and carry the pain with you. As you embrace God in newness, acknowledge your dreams but also acknowledge your realities. Sometimes loss can make us look at the past through rose colored glasses and remember things more utopian than they were making it harder for us to move on.

2. Pray about what could be. Become willing to dream again. Confess to God if you are afraid of dreaming again. Ask Him to help you dream about a new future, new possibilities, and a new you. Change is hard but staying the same can be even worse. Ask God to be with you in the new so you don't miss the opportunities planned for you in the now.

3. Accept that new is the new normal. Start to live in a state of anticipation. Began to believe that what is coming is better than what you left behind. New can be scary but it is also full of possibility.

Newness can be scary for anyone. As a single parent, Marissa, shares that when she first became a solo parent after her husband died, she longed for an unbroken world where all things were made new and better. What she realized though is that brokenness in the world doesn't change but we can be made new despite that. Past experiences and losses, while hard, can serve to change us, to make us new and different. Like Paul, we can learn to embrace any circumstance provided God is with us. But embracing change is hard because what comes next may not be what we want. There is uncertainty in "new". Old feels safe and reassuring because even if it wasn't best, we still knew what to expect, and in many ways that feels comfortable.

To embrace the new, we must first identify our past dreams and past realities. We must take time to accept that what we once had or hoped for is no longer possible. The ideals and dreams of where our life was going must be examined. We have to face the reality of what is happening now. We all want happy kids, effortless parenting, a perfect home. We often look at our lives through a Hallmark filter that isn't realistic. It represents hopes and dreams but not our real-life experiences. Before we embrace the new, we have to realize that some of our ideals were not congruent with our actual lives. Looking back is important because we can't grieve something until we identify it. It's impossible to move into the new without letting go of those ideals and realities. It's helpful to see that our lives weren't perfect in the past anymore than they will be now or in the future. Accepting and acknowledging this helps us grieve and then let go.

Maybe the newness this year means you can't provide as many presents for your kids as you want to or maybe your house doesn't have Christmas lights outside. But, instead of presents, remember that your kids want your PRESENCE. Instead of Christmas lights, your kids want to see light in your eyes when you look at them. Embracing the new can bring up grief but it can also help us realign our priorities. As we do this, we may experience transitional hurt. We feel the excitement or joy of what is ahead while also feeling the loss of what we are moving away from.

As you move toward the new, second, ask God to be with you. Pray about the future. Ask Him what is next and what is best for you and for your kids. Let Him be part of the process. We may have ideas of what is best but God's ways are different than ours. We sometimes think the areas of loss in our life must be filled with something that is the same as what we had before but God often provides something else, something better. In our longing for what we had; we can miss what He is giving us instead. Especially when His plan in the new surprises us. Isaiah 57:15 says, "I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are sad and humble. I give new life to those who are humble. I give new life to those whose hearts are broken." We can go to God honestly, humbly, and share our broken hearts with Him. He will meet us there and be with us in the hurt. Rather than cling to the old, we can ask Him to help us embrace the new. God is a multiplier. He can take the little bit of faith we have and turn it into something amazing and wonderful.

Sometimes asking "what if" questions can help us look ahead with God. "What if the old tradition needed to be changed anyway?" "What if the plan I had was leading me to a worst place only I didn't know it?" "What if what God has in store is even better than what I had before?" Asking questions like this allows an opportunity to embrace the idea of new with curiosity. Robert Beeson said that prompts like this, while journaling, helped him let go of the past and move toward the new with more openness. This process is cathartic. Offering the future to God allows Him to start painting something new on the canvas of your future. Psalm 37:5-7 says, "Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun." As we let God into our future, He will help us each step of the way. He will bring light to what we once thought would be dark days.

After first acknowledging and grieving our past dreams and past realities, and second, inviting God into the newness with us, third, we can accept that new is our new normal. This season is different. And, it is supposed to be. We aren't here by chance. God can and will shape our experiences, past and present, into His plan and will for our lives. Even when things are new and uncertain to us, they are not surprises to God. Knowing He holds our lives and future in His hands can help us embrace the new as our new normal.

When we submit our lives to God and dare to dream again, we can trust Him to redeem our experiences. He won't restore things exactly as they were but He can bring forgiveness, healing and redemption to those events. And He will go with us into a new future.

Our tendency is to want God to bring back what we once had, to replace what we lost. Instead, God often brings us something different but better. Maybe we think redemption should mean we get married again, and quickly, but that isn't how God works. God's idea of new isn't always our idea. God can make new out of things in ways we didn't know were possible. God can resurrect dead dreams. He can bring to life places in our hearts that we thought would neve live again.

The newness of God isn't in the replacement of all things but in the redemption of all things. And He can and will bring that redemption. Accepting new as the new normal means a future full of hope and light. Healing happens as we walk ahead with Him. Finding God with us in newness is a process. We first need to accept and acknowledge the past, ask God to be with us in the new, and to embrace new as our new normal.

Single parents, as you embrace newness in this season, you are not alone. As you walk the journey of solo parenting, we want to offer encouragement and hope any way we can. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups meeting Monday through Saturday every week. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@soloparentsociety). Subscribe to our weekly podcast via AccessMore or wherever you get your podcasts and download our Solo Parent app FREE in the app store. We love to connect single parents to resources that offer hope and help. If you want to donate so we can reach more single-parent families, go to www.soloparentsociety.com.

Questions? Email us at info@spsociety.com.  

Emmanuel: God With Us in Hope - Kristi McLelland


We are in a crazy time this year, and on some days, it feels hopeless. We are trying to get through the pandemic, move on past the election, and find a new perspective for 2021, but there's just so much going on. We want to look ahead with hope but what are we hoping in? Is it a political outcome, a vaccine, a change in our circumstances?

When we look to these things for hope, we can set ourselves up for a cycle of disappointment and despondency. Today we are talking about finding hope in Emmanuel, God with Us.

We are so thrilled to have Kristi McClelland with us on our podcast this week. Kristi is an author, professor, speaker, and biblical culturist. Kristi teaches the Bible through its original historical, cultural, linguistic, and geographic context. This approach helps build a bridge to help us understand the world and culture of the bible to know what the authors meant and show us who the living God is, what he's like and what it's like to walk with Him.

When Kristi was 21 years old, as a senior in college, she lost her father unexpectedly to cancer just a few weeks after diagnosis. It was devastating and felt like the rug was pulled out from under her. Her whole world changed in a moment. As she was mourning and hurting, she would sleep with her Bible under her pillow so she could read a psalm or just a few words of comfort.

Now, years later, Kristi has faced other reasons to need comfort and hope, just as we all have. We all need anchors of hope and, as believers, we have a living Hope in Christ - a hope that is alive, breathing, walking around, able to meet us in our troubles. In times like these, Kristi prays, "Lord, I need your hope to find me because I don't have it in me to find it." I'm upside down, I feel disoriented, so find me, find me and usher in that hopefulness." Kristi describes Living Hope as different from hope that is experienced as a feeling which is how it's talked about in other world religions. "Our hope is not based in a certain theology, rhythm, or practice. Our hope is based on a man, a living resurrected man. It's not just that Jesus came but that He is still here, living, moving, breathing, having his way, shepherding us through our lives." So, hope isn't a thing, it's not a feeling. "Our hope is living because Jesus is alive and, in our lives, right now, shepherding our lives in ways known and unknown in mystery and uncertainty. We're all going to fool around and make it - because of Him. We are going to fool around and make it through this season, as we have every season of devastation and loss that comes before, because it's not just that He came to earth. He came to earth, He is here, and He's coming again one day. So, we live in the twilight of who He is so it's Living Hope."
After the loss of her Dad and again now in 2020, Kristi shares, "We've all had longing and aching this year, for things past and for things ahead. The Bible says God longs for things too." Kristi says this truth is found in Isaiah 30:18 which says, "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you. He rises to show you compassion." Kristi learned it when she lost her dad and she's learning it again this year. "Compassion is the fusion of two words. "Com" means "with" and "passion" comes from "pathos" which means "pain". So, compassion in the Biblical world is not an emotion. It's a location. Compassion means positioning yourself with people in their pain. The Bible here in this verse is saying that the Lord longs to position himself with us in our pain. He rises to show us compassion. "You think of all those seasons in life when maybe you've thought, "Oh I need to clean myself up before I come to God" or "Why am I having another meltdown?" "Why can't I get it together? Why is everybody else smarter, quicker, better, faster, stronger than me, and I'm the one behind, struggling?" The Bible tells us that this is where God locates Himself - with us and among us in our pain. "When we are the most undone, He is the closest. When we are fundamentally disoriented, He comes so near, to be with us in our pain." And when we are hurting, isn't that what we need? We just want to know we are not alone. Kristi has been thinking about this verse so much this year and asking God to locate Himself with her in the pain. If we know God is with us and among us, that Living Hope will see us through.

But, so often we are in a rush to get through the pain. We want to get past it and not have to sit in it and learn from it. Kimberley Mitchell, cohost on the Solo Parent Society podcast, shares that she and founder, Robert Beeson, talk about this often. We want to avoid the pain, but God meets us on some of our most broken, hard, painful days! It is in some of our darkest times that some of the greatest moments with God occur. Often, we think instead, "when this breakthrough happens or when my kids are acting better or when I get married, then we will feel hope". But this is misplaced hope.

How do we find hope in God in a wilderness or desert season? In the Western world, Kristi says we often ask, "How did I get here? What did I do to get here? And how do I get out of it?" whereas the ancients in the Middle East ask very different questions. They understand that God does some of His best work in the wilderness and in the dessert. The Jewish people equate the wilderness as a place we go to hear God's voice, to hear His Word. Moses was in the dessert when he heard God speak from the burning bush. Elijah fled to the dessert to hear God's still small voice. Jesus was in the dessert 40 days and 40 nights when angels came to tend to Him. "When you find yourself in a wilderness, don't try to get out of it. Hunker down and start listening." It's in the wilderness where we get our word from the Lord. Kristi says rather than trying to get out of it, position yourself to hear the word of the Lord in this. In Hosea 2, the Lord says, "I will allure her to the dessert and there I will speak tenderly to her." This verse is one we can hold on to as single parents. This passage goes on to say that we will no longer call God our Master, but we will instead call him our Husband. In our dessert season, God wants to meet with us and deepen His relationship with us. In the wilderness, we become fused to the Lord in a new, more intimate way that the mountaintop could never teach us.

We can't change the pandemic; we can't change our circumstances, but we can attune our ears to God's voice. We can listen for His voice in the dessert. He is with us in our pain. Sometimes we struggle and strain so much trying to get out of the wilderness, that we miss His word to us. This is where our transformation happens.

In our weekly Solo groups, this is what we want to do. We don't want to struggle to get out and to avoid the pain but rather we want to take time to listen for God's voice in the pain. Rather than numbing out through eating, Netflix, alcohol, sex, or whatever it is we turn to, we need to instead allow God to sit with us and meet with us in it. There is so much happening out of our control right now, but we need to stay present and not run from this season.

One of the ways we can do that this year is by allowing ourselves to lament. This is a practice that was used often by Jewish people in the Bible. There are all kinds of liturgies and songs of lament. "In Judaism and the biblical world, both joy and sorrow are considered to be communal emotions." Rather than individual private expressions, in Jewish culture, they celebrate and mourn together. Lament is a communal, spiritual practice. When we don't numb out, when we stay alive and present in our lament, lament transforms and matures us. It purposes and accomplishes things in us that are different than celebrations and joy. Just like sore muscle after we work out are something we accept as part of the process in getting stronger, the soreness of lament is evidence of the work being done in us too. When we numb out, we become overwhelmed by anxiety. We must ask God for the grace to embrace lament and not resist it. Kristi shares, "If we numb out, we come out of a dessert season, no different than when we entered it. If we try to escape it, we will not be transformed by it. We must learn to lament with our community, to feel the sadness, to journal it, to not avert our eyes but to investigate it, and past it with Living hope. When we do that, we come out of it stronger and a little bit more mature." Don't miss the work God wants to do in you with lament. When we do that, we have more of ourselves to give to others when they're in their dessert season.

How do we lean into community during lament?

When we feel overwhelming feelings and when we are tempted to isolate, Kristi says this is a red flag. Practice reaching for community when nothing in you wants to. Have safe people you can be honest with and tell them you are getting stuck in isolation and need help getting out. Loneliness is a big issue for single parents and reaching out is hard but it's so important. It takes courage to reach out and acknowledge you're not doing okay. Be honest and seek out what you need. Yes, it feels vulnerable and humbling, but isolation can rob us of our hope. Expressing a need awakens compassion from others. Be brave and embrace lament - with God and with others. He longs to meet you there. He is Emmanuel, God With Us. He is our Living Hope.

We are facing so much globally and in our daily lives but, single parents, as you face the challenges, you are not alone. As you walk the journey of single parenting, we want to offer encouragement and hope any way we can. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups meeting Monday through Saturday every week. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@soloparentsociety). Subscribe to our weekly podcast via AccessMore or wherever you get your podcasts and download our Solo Parent app FREE in the app store. We love to connect single parents to resources that offer hope and help. If you want to donate so we can reach more single-parent families, go to www.soloparentsociety.com. Questions? Email us at info@spsociety.com.  

Emmanuel: God With Us In Our Struggle


God With Us In Our Struggle

The holidays can be difficult because they bring up so many emotions for all of us. Especially as single parents, it can be hard to celebrate when we are facing painful memories of lost dreams, broken family traditions, and at times, being apart from our kids. Our reality is far different from a Hallmark movie storyline. Celebrating the season can be a struggle because it highlights the pain of parenting alone. 

Because we know the reality of loss can peak around the holidays, we want to offer some strategies that might help you embrace the truth that God is with us in grief. 

1. Identify and confess your strugle. We need to acknowledge and admit that our grief is real. We need to stop being afraid of it. There is no shame in grief. Yet, sometimes we shrink back from naming and facing it. But grief is a normal part of the human experience. Grief is a sign that our losses and pain matter because we matter. When we love someone and lose them, it's sad. There is a painful void left behind. When we lose the dream of a typical family, it hurts.

2. Accept struggle as normal. It's normal to feel grief and to struggle, especially during the holidays. We need to let ourselves feel it. We need to let go of the desire to push it aside and ignore it. If you are a single parent, you know a lot about grief and feeling loss. These feelings can become even stronger during the holiday season when the losses are highlighted. Remember though, you are not alone, and to struggle with grief and sadness is normal. 

3. Invite God into your struggle. Don't be afraid to let your heart be known by God. That is where intimacy and trust are born. Go to Him honestly with all you are feeling. Don't hide the dark places from Him. Let Him enter your highs, lows, and everything in between. He will meet you there, where you are. 

4. Finally, recognize God's presence with you in struggle. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He is acquainted with grief and He will be with you in it. We can find a sense of peace even in sadness and loss because God promises to be with those crushed in spirit. 

Single parent, Elizabeth, shares her experience with grief especially around the holidays. Christmas is hard being a solo parent. It's just not easy. The loss of extended family because of divorce is painful. It just is. Seeing pictures of past celebrations pop up on your phone or just having memories come to mind is like a stab to the heart. Ornaments from past years highlight the changes we've experienced. Your kids leaving to go be with their other family hurts and feels like a loss in itself. Reminder after reminder comes up even as you're getting through Thanksgiving Day and putting up a Christmas tree. 

Even as the waves of emotion wash over you, it's important to remember too that grief and gratitude can coexist. We can be thankful for our children's connection to their other parent's family even while we experience sadness at not being with them. And, it's normal to have FOMO - fear of missing out - when we know traditions are continuing that we are no longer part of anymore. Being disconnected and excluded from special memories and experiences with our kids is hard. 

That's why this topic is so important. Grief around the holidays is real and normal. It's healthy to acknowledge and accept it. We can also hold on to the truth that God is with us in that grief. He is Emmanuel. Especially during this pandemic, when everything feels heightened, it's even more necessary to invite God into that reality. We are all under more stress and more easily triggered. We aren't necessarily in the best place ourselves so we need God to be with us even more. 

How do we embrace Emmanuel - God with us - in struggle?

Identifying and confessing grief is the first step. We all experience sadness and hurt, but what we do with those emotions varies. We each handle our feelings differently. Some of us find ourselves staying busier, avoiding quiet times when the feelings will inevitably surface. Distractions are easier than facing the sadness. Sometimes, our tendency is to try to control things, or work hard to numb out and ignore our grief. Others sink beneath the weight of the feelings and wallow and wade in sadness, perhaps isolating, unable to function. These reactions are common. But we don't find genuine health or wholeness in these responses, only temporary relief. Rather, admitting and identifying our grief helps us process it. It's normal to feel this way. Rather than suppressing it or becoming overwhelmed by it, we need to accept it and let ourselves feel it. 

Grief that goes underground can become depression, anger, bitterness, or cynicism. We might find ourselves ignoring our feelings of hurt, sadness, and loneliness only to act them out in impatience, irritability, or isolation. Naming and facing our feelings is the first steps to experience God with us in grief.

Next, as we recognize and normalize our grief, we can start to notice our default settings. Are we avoiding it, getting stuck in it, or pretending it's not there? Instead of reacting by default, we can be patient with ourselves as we process it in an intentional way, with God and with safe people in our lives. 

Grief doesn't mean you're in a bad place. In fact, sometimes the most incredible breakthroughs happen because of a breakdown. Instead of trying to escape our grief, we can sit with God in it. It's normal to feel sadness and hurt after loss. And, it's normal to be triggered emotionally because of our story. This is just part of life. 

As we get honest about these losses and all that is going on inside of us as a result, we can bring our whole heart to God. Instead of reacting in a "knee-jerk" kind of way, we can cope with our feelings of grief more intentionally. We can acknowledge and accept them and bring them to God.

Another thing to remember about grief is that it can make us long for what we once had. Even if what we lost was toxic or harmful, it's normal to sometimes want it back. Don't be surprised if you miss, sentimentally, what you once had. It doesn't mean you want your former partner or old life back. Rather, missing those things is a reflection that you experienced a loss that still hurts. These thoughts and feelings are a normal part of the grieving process. We might even idealize and long for those things again. But just because we miss being a family unit or being married doesn't mean you should go back to it. Feeling sadness at the loss doesn't mean it's a healthier or better path for you or for your kids. 

Transitions as single parents are hard. Having mixed emotions and thoughts of regret are normal and will happen as we grieve so it's especially important to ask God to be with us in it. We need the peace of His presence and His guidance as we move ahead. 

The more we identify and normalize our grief and struggle, and as we invite God into it with us, the more we can offer that experience to our kids. We can empathize with them instead of subconsciously trying to manage their feelings. Instead of modeling avoidance or numbing out, we can help them acknowledge and accept sadness and grief as normal. Our example gives them permission to feel all the emotions themselves and to process them in a healthy way. We can sit with them and talk through it so they don't feel alone. 

So, how do we invite God into our struggle? What are practical ways we can recognize His presence in it? We can invite Him in by expressing it honestly. We can do that through tears, journaling, talking out loud with trusted friends about it, and admitting when we are angry and afraid because of the losses we've experienced. We can ask God to be with as we feel sad, hurt, and lonely. Sometimes it helps to imagine sitting at God's feet or to visualize being held by Him, as we grieve and cry. That picture of Him, acting as our loving Father, one who brings comfort and who cares deeply about us, is helpful. 

Worshipping God while we're facing our grief helps too. It reminds me us of who He is and what He has done. His Word can bring comfort even as we are feeling painful things. When God says He is with us, it's not just words on a page. He sent His Spirit to comfort us, to guide us, and to help us - in the here and now, in the reality of our pain. We can pour out our hearts to God. We can give it all to Him as we picture Him near us, acting on our behalf. 

Another thing to remember is that God doesn't restore everything the way we expect or the way we might want. God with us in grief doesn't mean He comes and gives back whatever we lost. Rather, He redeems us where we are now and where we are going. He gives us a richer understanding of who He is and all He has done for us. 

Psalm 34 says the Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those crushed in spirit. God walks with us along painful pathways. He will not leave us to face them alone. We can bring our hurts to Him and He will help us with them. Sometimes it is only in going through hardship that we realize and recognize His presence. Confessing and acknowledging our pain helps us know God in a deeper way and this intimacy with Him is transformational. God may not restore our circumstances, but He restores our heart and redeems our hurts. In the process of facing our pain, God will meet us in it. We can feel His kindness, mercy, and grace in our suffering. God transforms what we bring to Him. He can make beauty from ashes. He truly is Emmanuel - God with us, no matter what we are facing.

As you walk the journey of single parenting, we want to offer encouragement and hope any way we can. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups meeting every week. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@solopa rentsociety). Subscribe to our weekly podcast via AccessMore or wherever you get your podcasts and download our Solo Parent app FREE in the app store. We love to connect single parents to resources that offer hope and help. If you want to donate so we can reach more single-parent families, go to www.soloparentsociety.com. Questions? Email us at info@spsociety.com