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For Single Parents at Christmas Time

December 12, 2019
Image result for polar exp

With Christmas just a few days away, some weary people are ready for the Polar Express to pull into the station. There’s too little energy left. Too little time in the day. And maybe the biggest of the factors, there’s too little money to do all the things they feel like they should be doing.

Boy, do I get this. I am being there. I am doing this. Well, actually I’ve got more time than I’ve had in a long time. Less energy and less money this time around, though. So if you’re hoping the Polar Express will please chug into the station, I get it.

And if you’re a single parent, you’re stretched thinner now than at any other time of year. I know from close observation for 45 years that it feels like most of your life is summed up in two words: not enough. Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough energy. Just not enough of you for nearly everything you’ve got tugging at you. Add the emotion of Christmas in, and the whole not-enough thing gets magnified to the 10th power. It probably feels like the Polar Express is running you over.

Reality often stinks. I wish I had better news. I try not to be pessimistic, but when I look at the world and life realistically, it’s hard for me to be very optimistic. I’m just not a glass-half-full kind of guy. This may make me a legitimate voice to speak into a single parent’s life. Your life, single parent, isn’t full of unicorns and rainbows. Skittles aren’t raining down from cotton candy clouds. You life is H A R D!

I want to just offer a few words of encouragement to you, if you’re a single parent. My guess is that you may feel like you’re stranded on a desert island, that you’re on your own. And some of you are. I hate this, but I know the truth is that many, maybe even most, single parents are on their own. If your life is this way, you’ve got to be tired of people giving you advice. Especially people who have a nice support system that’s spreading a net for them. So I want to be careful not to be another voice from the safe zone telling you to keep your chin up.

OK, so Single Parent, I want to tell you that if you feel like you’ve been flattened by the Polar Express, there’s a reason for it. You have the hardest job in the world. You’re ahead of people who defuse bombs, people who transport radio-active materials, MMA fighters, Dallas Cowboys coaches. All of these people are behind you in terms of degree of difficulty. Being a single parent is harder than any of these. Even the bomb squad gets a day off. You don’t. Doing what you do, and doing it well, is the hardest job on the planet. If you feel worn smooth out, there’s a good reason for it. You’re not being dramatic (please don’t be…) when you get to the end of the day and feel like you can hardly drag your bones into bed. Your job is a 10.0 on the degree of difficult scale. That’s the first thing I want to tell you.

Second thing is that when you feel isolated and on an island, that’s the best time to reach out for community with safe people who can love you and encourage you. This is supposed to be the church. God’s family is supposed to be a safe, supportive place. It should be a place where you can find encouragement and help as you face the challenges of your most important job. Unfortunately, it isn’t always. Some churches are judgmental and condescending. They don’t represent the heart of Christ, even if they wear His name on their sign out front. These are the groups I want to you avoid. Like the plague. If you smell judgmentalism, don’t pass Go and don’t collect $200. Just move on to another church to see if Jesus lives there. Don’t feel guilt about moving on. Just go. Ask God to guide you to a place that will be His safe embrace, and then go looking.

You can’t just snap your finger and have this kind of church appear. It will take effort to find one that is grounded in the Bible, that loves as Jesus does, that will help you grow more completely into the daughter or son of the King you actually are. These churches do exist. They seem hard to find, sometimes. But it’s so worth the effort to find them.

Last thing I want to say to you: you are cherished by God. He doesn’t think of you as damaged goods. He isn’t holding your divorce or widowhood against you. He’s not waiting for you to get it together so you’ll be ready and worthy to be included in His circle of love. At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I think God is nuts about you, just the way you are. Sure He knows your potential and wants you to grow into it. Sure He loves you too much to leave you the way you are. But He loves you right now, in the mess of your life. He loves you today, when you’re maxed out on every credit card you’ve got and still have a mountain of presents you want to get. He loves you right here, when your kids are acting out and struggling, and you don’t feel like there’s anything you can do to make a difference for them. When you ex- won’t pull their weight, or they keep throwing monkey wrenches into your attempts to build a safe and stable home for your kids.

If I could give you a Christmas gift today, the one I’d most want to give you would be that you would somehow know in your mind and feel in your heart how deeply cherished you are by God. I’d want to somehow free you up to believe about yourself what God says He believes about you. I’d want you to know that you are never (NEVER) out of His thoughts. Your are on His mind constantly. And not because you’re such a screw-up, but because he’s crazy about you and can’t get you off His mind.

There’s no formula for making your life fun and happy as you hear the Polar Express chugging toward you. If there is, I sure don’t know what it is. And if there is, I’m suspicious of it before I even hear it. So I’m not pitching out some slick and simple way to transform your Christmas.

But I’m convinced of this: you’re not alone, even when you feel most alone. God has promised, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) And He means it. He’s not out there somewhere, waiting for you to use the right words in just the right prayer to come to you. He’s right here. And He’s not going anywhere. Ever.

God, if a Single Parent ever gets to read this, please make Your Presence and Love vivid and unmistakable for them. Draw them into Your tightest embrace as we move closer to the day we celebrate Your Son’s birth. Remind them that You’re not disappointed with them. Remind them that they are Yours because You want them to be Yours, not because You have to keep some eternal, cosmic contract. Remind them that on their worst day, You’re embracing them with your strong, unwearying love. Especially when they’re feeling weak and weary. Somehow, God, make this Christmas a season for them to experience the wonder of Your unspeakable love, and to know that the little baby in the manger would have gladly left heaven if they were the only person on earth that needed a Savior.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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