Single Parenting

MOST of us can probably think of someone who is a single parent. Having had that label--and its accompanying responsibilities--myself, I gave it a lot of thought.

As a youngster I had learned that God is my Father and my Mother. I was taught in the Christian Science Sunday School that no matter where I was, I could never be alone because God was always there caring for me and directing me. This was very comforting to me when I was a child. When I became an adult and found myself a single parent, I prayed to know that God was still there to care for me and direct me, to know that He was the true Parent of my children.

Many times I felt fearful, inadequate, and alone. These were the times that I would go to the Bible for inspiration and comfort. One of my favorite passages is in Isaiah. It reads, ``He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." I really felt this passage was talking directly to me. I felt closer to God. It helped me see that I was God's spiritual idea and that I was always receptive to His g uiding thoughts.

In her writings Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, uses the word Mind as a synonym for God. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures she writes, ``God alone makes and clothes the lilies of the field, and this He does by means of Mind, not matter." To know that we, as God's children, reflect all the spiritual qualities of God, Mind, including wisdom, understanding, and intelligence, is very comforting when we feel confused, inadequate, or alone. Many times in the Bib le, Christ Jesus refers to God as his Father. He was always turning to his Father for guidance and strength. God is the true Father of us all. And Jesus' example turns us to this Father for comfort, healing, guidance, and protection.

As I prayed, I realized that God is the real single Parent. He is the source of strength, courage, supply, gentleness, wisdom, understanding. The Bible tells us that man is created by God. This man is our real spiritual identity and is complete and perfect right now.

Sometimes our human experience doesn't seem to reflect this, though. It is at these times that we need to turn to God and pray. As we do this, we are focusing on the spiritual truth about our identity. For example, when Jesus encountered the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, he said, ``Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." He obviously was not impressed with the fact that the man had not been able to walk for a long time.

As I read this story recently, it was clear to me that Jesus must have seen this man's perfection and ability intact. Mrs. Eddy points out in Science and Health: ``Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."

In learning to see man this way, we are not ignoring problems. By turning our thought Godward we are able to meet the problem straight on--and overcome it. I needed to see my real spiritual identity. I knew I was not an abused wife who felt very fearful, alone, and who had the responsibility of raising two small children. In reality I was whole, free, loved, protected--God's cherished child. I reasoned that these qualities are permanent, because they are spiritual. No one and no circumstance could take t hem away from me.

As I prayed in this manner, I found that I was silencing fear, confusion, anger, hurt, and becoming more receptive to God's direction. Every day I had many decisions to make, but I realized that the most important decision I had to make was whether I was going to rely on God. I knew that keeping my thoughts close to Him, I would be led to do the right things and make the right choices. Many times I would look at my two little children, who so naturally trusted that they would have everything they needed,

and my own trust in God would be strengthened.

Through prayer I was able to make wise decisions and feel confident that God was leading the way. I began to see that I had only to listen to God's direction and be obedient. This was truly learning a sense of unburdened parenting. During the many years of single parenting, my children and I saw God's divine direction in operation. We saw every need--great or small--met in beautiful and often unexpected ways.

At first we were literally homeless. I had about $6 and didn't have a job. I remember praying deeply and asking God to show me the way. I was led to ask an uncle if we could use his summer home in exchange for my cleaning the house and caring for the grounds. (That included over an acre of lawn mowing!) By that very night, the children were tucked into bed in a lovely home. I then prayed about employment. I realized that there had to be opportunities to share the spiritual qualities I was beginning to se e more clearly in myself. While growing up, I had had years of training in classical ballet. Within a week I was teaching. I also played the piano and sang to the girls every night when I put them to bed. Soon I found that I could share this talent too. I found a neighbor that could watch the girls after they were in bed, and I went to a lovely restaurant and played and sang in the dining room each night for a few hours. As the years followed, I had many wonderful jobs and was even able to go to college at night without ever neglecting my children.

When my children were in their teens, I met and married a wonderful man. Now that these children are grown and on their own, I feel so grateful knowing that their true, single Parent, God is still caring for them--and for everyone else, too.

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