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When Friends Matter Most

By Susan Mathis
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Finding the support you need to thrive as a single parent

I just couldn’t raise my daughter alone. After my husband abandoned Janelle and me, leaving us with nothing, I knew I needed help. Four friends with very different roles, who each met different needs, surrounded me with support, accountability and encouragement.

My Solomon

“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore” (1 Kings 4:29). God also gave much wisdom to my friend Wanda.

Wanda came into my life at just the right time. Older, wiser and a widow who knew her share of heartache, Wanda counseled me. With patience, she carried me through my brokenness. With love, she walked with me through my darkest days and rejoiced as I grew and healed.

Sometimes I’d call her in the middle of the night, pouring out my fears and worries. She’d lovingly and faithfully calm me with counsel from God’s Word. Other times we’d get together to discuss the practical matters of single parenting, my concerns about the future or fears about my daughter’s emotional healing. We’d read books together about single parenting, and I always felt safe to be brutally honest with her about my anger and pain, knowing Wanda would protect my heart and fragile emotions.

She also understood that I needed encouragement, so she’d rejoice with me when I overcame one of the many single-parent obstacles. Wanda was, and still is, the person I can turn to for godly counsel and wise advice.

My Aaron and Hur

“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up — one on one side, one on the other — so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Exodus 17:12). When I was weary in the battles that swirled around me, Becky and Barb held my hands up — just when I needed it most.

Becky is a longtime friend who had known my former husband well. She’d seen his behavior and knew firsthand what had happened to our family. So Becky had a special role of supporter and sympathizer. She would get boiling mad because she shared my pain. She knew that what I was saying was true; she knew the stories weren’t exaggerated or a product of my imagination. It was comforting to have someone who understood. Becky had a unique way of supporting me, sitting me on a rock of reality and standing with me.

Barb is a spiritual encourager and accountability partner. She, too, stood with me and held up my hands, but she did this through prayer, guiding me to His Word for strength and calling me to obedience and accountability. She kept me from losing the spiritual battle and pointed me to the Commander in Chief — Christ.

Together, these two women kept me steady, focused and balanced.

My Timothy

“We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). When I needed someone to help counsel my daughter, Pam was my Timothy.

Pam is God’s gift to my daughter and me. Though several states away, Pam spent hours on the phone with Janelle, strengthening and encouraging her in her faith, as well as supporting her relationship with me. Pam bolstered my mothering with her wise counsel, helping Janelle gain a proper perspective and guiding her through her teen and young adult years.

Without Pam’s support for Janelle, the teen years probably would have been more turbulent. Thanks, in part, to Pam, my daughter is a godly, married and successful woman who didn’t fall prey to the ominous single-parent statistics.

* * *

Look around you. Who in your life could meet your needs in these vital areas? Who could be a counselor or mentor? Who will keep you accountable to be obedient? Who will let you cry on her shoulder when you just need to let it all out? And who can come alongside you to help with your children? If you can find one same-gender friend in each of these areas, you’ll be blessed.

This article first appeared in the Single-Parent Edition of the June, 2007 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.

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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

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