My son was just 5 years old when his father and I separated, and my son was very angry. He had been witness to two prior separations and audience to the disintegration of our relationship.
We lived in a new area and he was just starting school. He wasn’t handling the change well. He would hide under the dining room table, shrieking wildly when life didn’t suit him. He was not an incorrigible child; it’s just that the world as he knew it had come to an end.
As life went on, the kids saw less and less of their father. Eventually he moved away. Communication was rare. As my son grew older, he began to realize the depth of his loss. He muttered disparaging statements about his father and included “a real dad” on his Christmas wish list.
During this time, I drew closer to God more than ever. I knew if God didn’t father our family, we were in trouble. I made several choices that helped us seek Him. They may be helpful for you as well:
Ask God to lead you to Christians who can be trusted with your “family secrets” and your most precious possession: your kids. You will need their support and help as a single parent.
Pray for godly counsel
If you feel you or your children need outside help coping with the fallout from marital disaster, seek godly counsel. Ask for referrals from people you trust, otherwise it can prolong the process — I have watched friends search for the right fit with a counselor, going from person to person. Remember, each time you start with a new mental-health provider, you undergo an intake evaluation (usually an hour), during which you explain your history and problems.
If you have trouble finding someone, don’t give up. In fact, you might consider writing the history of your situation and giving a copy to the new therapist in order to save time and emotional wear and tear.
When I was seeking help, I prayed. I didn’t have time or money; I needed to find the right person the first time. Did God ever answer! He blessed me with a godly, compassionate woman who was sympathetic to my financial constraints and has worked with my children and me as often as we’ve needed.
Remember His blessings
Keep a list of blessings God pours out on you and your children. “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago” (Psalm 77:11). My family has marveled at the ways God has provided beautiful clothes and furniture for us from sources that only He could have dreamed up.
The Lord has provided finances in ways as creative as creation itself. He has set us up with husband and wife teams to model loving marriages and appropriate male behavior. In short, He is standing in the gap.
Seek Him daily
I frequently ask God to make up for my deficiencies as a single parent. I seek prayer partners and times that I can commune with Him. (It’s not easy, but it is vital to my spiritual health.) Doctor’s offices and school pickup lines have become times of renewal where I can read His Word or pray.
My children are not fully grown, so I claim only daily successes. The long-term results are yet to be seen. But I do trust the words of the God who brought me this far: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5).
Thea Williams trusts God to stand in the gap in Havertown, Pa.
This article first appeared in the July 2006 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Adapted from Breaking the Cycle of Divorce, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2006, John Trent, Ph.D. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.