Introduction and part 1 to a 3 part series
(I know in previous posts I’ve said it was a 5 part series. I’ve decided that it would be best to stop at 3 and encourage you to simply read the book for the rest of the B.R.A.V.E. acronym. Partially because I started wondering if I might be broaching copyright infringement unintentionally. Even though I’m not even looking at her chapters since the first one to make sure I’m not saying the same thing, I want to respect the rights of the author. You can find a link to her book here.)
The circumstances surrounding becoming single mothers is painful. We doubt ourselves, question our ability to rise to the occasion, and we feel inadequate. The world tells us that when a husband and wife split, the husband is always more financially well off than the wife. We begin to wonder if we should have done more to keep the relationship together, if we should have compromised here, done that differently…ladies, I am all about doing everything to keep a relationship together, but you can only do so much. If he is abusive (emotionally, physically, even verbally), your relationship isn’t healthy, and until he gets himself straightened out, don’t second guess yourself. Your children are watching and listening to him treat you like that and they are learning unhealthy patterns.
I have had experience with emotional abuse. It is sometimes difficult to talk about when you feel like that person used to be your best friend. Why would someone who was your best friend, who proclaimed to love you, treat you so poorly? Sometimes it isn’t a matter of not loving you but a mental deficiency on their part. Other times it is a character deficiency that they’ve been good at concealing up until now. Sometimes it’s temporary. Other times it isn’t temporary, and they will continuously offend. If you want to share your individual story with me but don’t want to share it publicly, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Sometimes sharing your story can be part of the healing process. I am not a counselor or therapist, but I can certainly listen, and I can help you in researching resources in your area if you want it.
Kids learn by their parents’ examples.
As mothers, we want our children to be able to stand up for themselves when they are being abused. They need to learn by the example their mother sets. You do not want them learning by the example of their father that it is ok to abuse other people. Your kids will respect you more for putting an end to the abuse than if you were to take it for the sake of keeping the relationship intact.
Furthermore, you cannot be the mother your children need if you are not healthy, emotionally and psychologically. Emotional and verbal abuse keeps you second guessing and doubting yourself when you aren’t the problem, the abuser is. Decision making becomes difficult. Perhaps you try to compensate by being lenient when discipline is needed. That doesn’t help your child in the long run to grow up as responsible, independent citizens.
So if the reason your relationship ended is because of abuse, do not second guess yourself or beat yourself up. You have to protect your children and you from his negative, abusive acts. He needs to seek counseling and therapy to help him deal with his anger issues and insecurities before y’all make steps to reconciling the relationship.
If abuse wasn’t the reason…
If abuse wasn’t the reason for the split, you may feel guilty for the break up because there wasn’t an excuse so “severe.” But please remember, it is a two-way street. One person can only do so much to keep the relationship intact. If he is filing for divorce and refusing to go to counseling and attempt to reconcile, it is time to get an attorney and seek provisions for child support and custody arrangement. A divorce can be gained without your signature in the end. If there are no children to be provided for, you could choose to refuse to sign and allow it to happen without your signed “consent,” but if children are involved, you have to put their needs first and foremost. From personal experience, the father is not likely to provide adequate child support without a court order.
Regardless of the length between the statement, “I want a divorce” (however that sentiment was given) and the signing of the decree, once it is final there is a moment where reality sets in. Even if he has been removed from the house for some time before the decree (or you), the decree marks a specific date and can bring about an emotional response. Please give yourself and your kids some grace that day. Go to the park so the kids can play and you can enjoy a moment of respite to take a break from work, chores, and the phone. Breathe the fresh air and spend time just talking with God and allowing yourself to begin the process of healing.
You’re divorced, widowed, or simply single again
It is difficult to see how we are going to be able to provide for our children and have any impact in this world when we become single mothers. We become discouraged and feel a general sense of hopelessness. Every mother, regardless of single or not, has many “opportunities to be terrified, discouraged, and sometimes even mystified” (Brave Moms, Brave Kids, Lee Nienhuis 75, see previous post here). But there seems to be an extra angle on the situation when you’re a single mother. You don’t have another partner to bounce your thoughts off of, to help cover the bills, or to help discipline the kids. The buck stops with you.
Regardless of whether you are single or not, Lee Nienhuis’s B.R.A.V.E. acronym is an excellent tool to use in order to develop important personal growth to meet the challenge of parenthood. The “B” stands for the reminder to “believe God.”
I absolutely love how Lee talks about us becoming “warrior women” (p 72). We are not weak women, though sometimes we may feel like it. But we don’t always think of ourselves as warriors. God created you for a purpose. Square your shoulders, take a breath, and own it. God promises to be the strength we need to accomplish His plan for our life even when we cannot see past the hour (or even ten minutes) in front of you.
Many things come our way which try to get us off course. Satan is actively seeking ways to weaken our resolve, to discourage us, and to keep us from being the avenue by which our children and others see Christ. Our children may also attempt to come at us. We cannot be timid or easily swayed by our children’s incessant whining or demands or avoid difficult situations because we don’t want to deal with it. Our children need to see us being brave and willing to fight the daily battles.
God promises to be a Father to the fatherless, a husband to the widow. Hold him on that. Pray that over yourself and over your children. Be a mother on her knees every morning and at every instant of crisis. God is listening and watching. He longs for you to take your struggles and your needs to Him. Sometimes He is only waiting for you to bring it to Him before His hand moves and your burden is lifted.
There are moments when the situation appears the darkest. We read in the bible in Mark 9 of the father who had been trying to find healing for his son for years. His son had been plagued with the demonic forces for years and Jesus’ disciples could not cast it out. When Jesus stood before him, Jesus asked the father what he wanted from him. The father said, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22, emphasis mine).
Did you catch that? If…can… Jesus has already done many miracles by this time. This father has tried everything, done everything, and he is at the end of his rope. Sound familiar? Jesus admonishes him, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).
The father’s response, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). In the midst of his darkest moments, he was desperate. Lee puts it this way, it is that “moment the healing began for both father and son” (p 81). He was honest and open with the Savior, the only One Who could help him. God gives grace to the humble (see James 4:6-8).
So if you find yourself doubting, drop to your knees and cry out to the Father. Romans 8:26 advises us that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.” So if you’re struggling with doubt and you don’t know what to say, just pray His name. (There is a song that even talks about this and it was completely unintentional. You can look it up here). Pray scripture, even if it is just as simple as “help my unbelief” (brief paraphrase of the last part of Mark 9:24).
I implore you to hold fast to the Father. Cling to His word. Subscribe to my newsletter and send me your prayer requests. I want to walk with you in this journey and lift you up to the Father. God promises that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 8:20). We may not be physically together, but we can join together in the Spirit.
James 5 addresses praying if we are afflicted (verse 13) and says that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much) (verse 16c). We are righteous because of Christ so hold fast to His promise in scripture. And believe.
You can find part 2 here!