I Don’t Know How You Do It

I Don’t Know How You Do It

Encouragement for Single Parents

Guest Contributor: Kyla Free

“I don’t know how you do it.”

If you’re a single parent, you’ve probably heard these words once, twice, or a hundred times. It’s probably not a phrase that triggers a strong emotional response like some do. It’s more likely to elicit a smiling shrug, the vague but polite response that someone wants to hear to their well intentioned comment.

You probably didn’t choose single parenting–or if you did, it was likely to escape something far worse. As you’ve walked this path, you’ve probably taken it as most parents do: one step at a time.

Maybe you’re like me–or maybe you were wiser–in misconceptions about single parenting. Single parents were those who’d made a sinful mistake, those who’d lost a perfect spouse tragically (cue the Hallmark movie), or those fashionable celebrities who’d be hiring a crew of nannies. I was so naive, so foolish.

When I faced the situation that led me to where I am, I fought God over it. I didn’t want to be divorced. I didn’t want to be a single mother, to be separated from my children on weekends and holidays, to drive to worship services and sit alone, to juggle finances and yard work and cooking and repairs and every household task alone. I didn’t want single mom ministry. I even prayed more than once, “Father God, I don’t want to learn any more. I don’t want to be stronger.” I didn’t want to be painfully stretched out of the familiar.

The LORD had other plans.

“ . . . [H]e said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (II Corinthians 12:9).

Aren’t all of our biggest Bible heroes those who were chosen to glorify God through their weakness? But my journey wasn’t so smooth. Unlike David, I did not want to pick up my sling and stones. King Saul’s armor was too big, and I was too fearful. It would be a prettier picture if I could say I’d kept my chin up no matter what, that I never broke down, that I never wept alone in my floor at night, that my prayers were never tearful silence.

At some point in those early years, I heard someone say something about praying the Psalms. I didn’t know what that meant exactly, but when I didn’t have words to pray, I started reading them aloud at night, just one chapter a night.

“Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12b).

“Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5: 1-3).

“I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears” (Psalm 6:6).

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2a).
“The LORD is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1). “I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths” (Psalm 30a). “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7a).
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

It was a tender word walk through every fear and doubt. It was empathy and faithful love. It was patient understanding, the comforting arms of a powerful Father wrapped in the whisper of His Spirit.

“I don’t know how you do it.” Well, that answer is easy in the light, isn’t it? I am utterly and absolutely ill equipped to do any of it. That’s where the fearful darkness wants to hold us captive. Stopping there–that’s the lie. Our gracious Father says, “You can’t, but I am with you. I AM enough.”

Kyla Free is a high school educator in Montgomery and parent of two children.