Pam Farrel and PeggySue Wells, authors of this excellent book, invited me to share an insight from my status as a long-time single mother. Below the photo is what I wrote.
As I entered my second year of singlehood, well-meaning friends asked me when I’d get married again. I laughingly answered I wouldn’t think about that until somebody showed up with a dozen roses. Then I changed the subject.
That evening as I mentally replayed the conversation, knowing I often veil the truth with my humor, I asked myself a tough question: Would I really be attracted to the first guy who handed me roses? As I admitted he at least would get my attention, I made an important decision: I would plant my own garden.
The next morning, I was at our local gardening shop loading my car trunk with rose bushes and bags of peat moss. For the next several months, I pruned and sprayed—and kept fresh roses throughout the house, quietly marveling at the satisfaction I gained from fragrant blooms.
Slowly I began to “plant my own garden” in other areas of my life as well, even taking steps toward a new career in editing and public speaking. If I had waited for someone else to bring me roses, and supposedly rescue me from my single state, I would have missed the incredible path my life has taken the past several years.
Hear me: This is not a soapbox speech for forever singleness. It’s an encouragement for you to seek the Lord’s direction rather than giving in to a desperate insistence for rescue. If you want to remarry and be part of a new family, go for it. But let the Lord heal you first rather than waiting for someone to show up with life’s “roses.”
Admittedly, I made a tough choice when I decided to put all thoughts of remarriage on hold. And although it is not the choice every single mother will—or should—make, I know it was the right one for me.
My decision not to rush into another marriage allowed me learn more about the Lord and more about myself. After all, I had been Mitch’s daughter, Don’s wife, Jay’s and Holly’s mother; I wanted to find Sandra Aldrich. And I did. Oh, she’s feisty and has a tendency to shoot from the lip too much, but she’s funny and strong and occasionally even wise. And I never would have found her if I’d thrown myself into another relationship in those early days of single parenting.
I genuinely believe my life never would have turned out this way if I had settled for what my extended family and even society expected instead of what God wanted to give me. And I believe God wanted to give me more of Himself, not another husband.
I also was convinced the Lord was preparing me for another career, and I felt sure a second husband would just talk me into going back to teach in the high school classroom. Besides, I’d seen too many problems in second marriages. The divorce rate nationwide is 50 percent for first marriages, 70-80 percent for second marriages. I didn’t want to be one of those statistics. So recognizing that the mortality rate of second marriages is even higher than first marriages, I determined to save myself from getting into such a mess.
Still, women in my Appalachian culture are expected to remarry, so I had to reason with aunts or cousins who made comments at every family gathering. To keep from saying what I was thinking, “That’s none of your business,” I’d mentally quote Proverbs 15:1—“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” But I still was irritated by the constant and often rude inquiries.
My friend Rose finally helped me break out of that anger trap when she said, “You’re giving everyone too much credit when you think they really care about your decisions. They don’t; they’re too involved in their own problems.”
I laughed, decided she was right and promptly stopped worrying over the comments about remarriage. Amazingly, as I stopped arguing about my chosen status, the relatives gradually found more interesting things to talk about.
A friend even said she admired the fact I was taking charge of my life rather than merely reacting to everything. Then she leaned toward me. “But don’t put God and His future for you in a little box.”
I thought about that for several days and then prayed, “Lord, you know I want only what you want. But if I can have my druthers, I’d druther remain single. All I need are friends who will smile when I come into a room.”
Now that I’m past those early scary days of single parenting, do I regret my decision? Not for a minute.
Prayer: Father God, my status as a single mother is filled with more challenges and temptations than I ever dreamed. Help me draw from your strength. Help me concentrate on your Presence and your guidance instead of giving in to fear. Help me find joy in each new day now as I prepare for the bright future you are planning.