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Confronting Loneliness as a Single Mother
A single mom shares three keys she has discovered for warding off the loneliness that so easily besets a single parent.

March! We made it through the high stress of Christmas, the "January blues," and the holiday that confronts our status as single mothers as no other—Valentine's Day. Hearts, roses, chocolates and special dinners—all symbols of intimate romance.

… three things guard my heart from loneliness …

Our singleness slaps us in the face wherever we turn. Romance is depicted in every store, and longing sets deep within, followed by a dark shadow of loneliness. How can we protect our heart from these implications? What can we do to avoid the painful reality of our singleness?

As a single mother, I have done three things to guard my heart from the loneliness which the holidays can magnify. Together these things have helped me turn my thoughts from myself. Instead of feeling lonely, I find joy in doing something special for my children, or for someone else—possibly a couple who needs a babysitter so they can enjoy the occasion.

First and most important, I recognized years ago I may need help in guarding my heart. Once I realized I would be parenting alone, I asked God to protect me from loneliness. I'm not sure exactly how He did it, but I do not feel lonely even though I am alone much of the time. I know God is always with me because the Bible says, "He will never leave us nor forsake us." However, it was not always so. The events in my life that led up to this seem funny as I look back, but were anything but funny at the time.

When my children were very young, I used to think I needed some time away from them every week. Therefore, Friday evenings I made arrangements to go out. But something always happened to block the way: the baby-sitters cancelled, cars would not start, or friends changed plans. At first I was so angry I would take out my frustrations scrubbing my townhouse from top to bottom. Other times I felt so sorry for myself I could do nothing but sob until I was simply too exhausted to care.

Finally, instead of fighting my circumstances, one Friday night I bowed my knee in prayer. I had such a wonderful evening. God's peace filled both my heart and home. The next Friday I chose to spend my time in prayer again. Those evenings became so precious to me that I soon desired to spend almost every evening in prayer after my children were in bed. I continue to spend time daily reading the Bible and praying to this day, perhaps unknowingly creating the answer to my own prayer about loneliness. It has helped me develop an intimacy with God I would not trade for anything in this world.

It only takes one thought to set in motion a series of unhealthy thoughts.

The second way I guard myself from loneliness is with the daily choices I make concerning the media. I do not watch, read or listen to anything that will trigger unhealthy thoughts or emotions. Society is saturated with media communication, and choices are a moment by moment decision. Few are the songs, TV programs, commercials or written articles that do not try to lure your emotions. It only takes one thought to set in motion a series of unhealthy thoughts. How much easier to protect ourselves initially from loneliness than after we are consumed by it?

Protecting our emotions can be compared to recovery from alcoholism. An alcoholic cannot afford the first drink because the problem will soon be uncontrollable. Unhealthy thoughts are like that first drink. By refusing the first negative thought, we will not have to fight the black state of loneliness that hits so many single people. Wise choices in entertainment carry life-long rewards.

The third way I protect my heart from loneliness is by building strong, healthy friendships through my church, work or other associations. These relationships give the support and encouragement we as single mother adults need. However, to become dependent on a friend to meet our needs could create a vacuum, should the person not be there for us. Depending on friends will not solve a loneliness problem. It is God we depend on—friends we enjoy. Free from thoughts of loneliness, I turn my thoughts toward those who are dearest to my heart, and I think of little ways to show them love.

Being a single parent does not have to mean loneliness—not on a holiday; not on any day of the year.

Elaine Bond, based at the Crossroads Centre in Burlington, is the founder of Home with a Heart for Single Mothers, and the author of a book by the same title. Web site:

Originally published in the Christian Life-Times, March 1997.




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