Just as I was beginning my experience as a single mom, a well-meaning person asked, "What about the children?" Honestly, the guilt I was already facing as I processed my recent divorce seemed unbearable, so to have someone ask me such a difficult question just about put me through the floor. It seemed like she was asking, "Aren't the children now doomed to fail in life and become petty criminals?"
Of all my single-parent struggles, what I hated most was the suffering my children would face, as the four of them became "kids from a broken home."
Not really knowing how to respond, and feeling the embarrassment of my family's brokenness, I looked at the lady and said, "I don't know. But here's the only thing I do know — my children are covered by the blood of Jesus."
She wasn't alone. Others quoted discouraging statistics for kids of divorce and recommended books about the failures of adult children who come from broken homes. But in my heart, I kept reminding myself, God has to be bigger than the world's statistics. I am certain He is the God who holds our futures, and He must be able to heal the brokenness in my children.
It has now been 10 years, and I have lived almost eight of them as a single mom. This is what I can tell you about my children: They are still covered by the blood of Jesus, and they are becoming really great people who love and serve God.
Here are some of the lessons I've learned about keeping my single-parent home focused on Jesus and His love for us:
It was my job as their parent to lead; I had to lead them on a journey of forgiveness and healing. I learned that my kids followed the example of my attitudes and choices, so I had to lead with integrity, laying down any inclination toward bitterness, learning to live with love and a positive outlook.
My kids needed me to parent them from my fullness, not from a bitter emptiness. But there were so many empty and lonely days when I felt paralyzed by pain and insecurity. I realized that I had a responsibility to my kids to pursue spiritual and emotional healing for myself.
In the years since my divorce, my four children have suffered many wounds — from the labels they've worn, the words they've heard and the painful events that have transpired. Not one of them has been immune to heartache. But God has come with healing for each child, and what's been broken is being put back together.
I learned quickly that my kids believed what I told them about our future. When I told them we were going to be OK because we belonged to God and then lived like that, they believed me. God gave me the privilege of teaching them to trust in His faithfulness. I would pray for our needs and point out every blessing. The kids began to see God at work in their lives.
When my 12-year-old son, William, came home from school and told me that his friend's parents were getting a divorce, I asked, "How's he doing?"
"OK, I guess. He seems afraid," William answered.
"Baby, you are the best friend God could send to him right now. You've walked where he's walking. You could tell him about God taking care of us and give him a lot of hope. ..."
"Mom," he interrupted, "I'm already doing that. He says it really helps to be my friend."
What a joy to know my son is giving to others what God has given to him.
Now when I think back to the question, "What about the children?" I wish I could go back and tell that lady, "God keeps His promises! He has been our rescuer, healer, protector, redeemer and friend. I know my children's future is decided by God, not by the world's statistics."
Angela Thomas is the best-selling author of My Single Mom Life. She lives in North Carolina with her family.