15 Tips to Avoid Single Mom Burnout Book Excerpt
The idea for this conference evolved from my upcoming book, "15 Tips to Avoid Single Mom Burnout." I wanted to write a book that identified some of the main reasons why single moms suffer from burnout and tackle them from a faith perspective. It is my pleasure to share this chapter with you! Tip # 14 "Stop Badmouthing Your Child's Dad... Do Something Radical... Pray," is one that I believe can be challenging for single moms, due to the complex nature of the co-parenting relationship. The book is structured, to address that the issue the burnout stems from, the proposed remedy, a prayer and scriptures to light your way. I hope you enjoy this chapter!
Stop Badmouthing Your Child's Dad...Do Something Radical....Pray
But if you keep on biting and devouring one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
All eyes were watching me (or so it felt), as I slowly walked down the middle aisle at church, with my head hung low, and hot tears streaming down my face. I was about to confess that I had developed a bitter heart, that was consuming me like a wildfire. My ugly truth was that I was angry with my daughter’s father. We were going through a horrific season, that had shook me to my core. I was seething with rage, betrayal, sadness and disgust. If you know me, then you know it is not in my nature to hold onto a grudge, or stew in a disagreement, but this was different, I was heart sick, and suffering in my spirit.
I finally reached the front of the church and handed a note to the brother taking prayer requests. I could barely mutter the words out of my mouth, for fear that I would break down in front of the entire congregation. In a faint whisper, I said, “I need the church to pray for me because I have sinned in my anger. I am so angry and mad, and I need prayer.” He put his hand on my shoulder, nodded his head, and kindly said, "It is okay." Which made me want to drop to my knees and wail, "No it's not, it really isn't! I can't breathe, I can't find joy, I can't see God through this and I don't like myself anymore." Instead, I said thank you and headed back up the long aisle.
When I arrived back to my seat the floodgates opened. I wept like no one was around. A mixture of shame and grief washed over me. I thought...How did I reach this point? Who did I become? How could I feel this way about the man who was the father of my most precious gift? When my prayer request was read, our elder said, “It takes courage to admit our anger and our sin, and many of us let it bubble up, but don’t hand it over to the Lord. Let’s pray for Sister Chere” The church prayed for me, and instead of judgement I received love, and it was the beginning of my heart being softened, my journey of forgiveness and my witness to the effectiveness of prayer. I left church that day with a sense of relief, I felt like I could breathe again. Anger is costly, and the toll it takes and the collateral damage it leaves behind was too much for me to bear. That Sunday, I laid it down through confession and repentance. The struggles didn't magically go poof in the air, but my heart began to mend. God was knitting it back together in His own perfect and patient way.
One of the most difficult aspects of single parenting is the co-parenting relationship. This is probably one of the most challenging relationships that you will ever have to navigate, through, but it is worth the effort, because your family is worth it! How you do this is between you and God. What I can tell you is that you hurt yourself and worse, your kids when you fall into a pit of resentment and decide to camp out there. Listen, the co-parenting relationship is a rollercoaster ride, and divorce is no picnic. You can expect to experience a range of emotions, which is natural and even necessary, but refuse to allow yourself to reside in your emotions. If you fall into a pattern of badmouthing the father of your children, you are heading down a slippery slope that has consequences to your life as a mom and a Christian.
You are a daughter of a King! Badmouthing is below your dignity, and does not represent who you are in Christ. Do not give the enemy the power to change you into someone that you find difficult to stomach or who you don't recognize in the mirror. You may be in that space right now, and it is not where you ever thought you would be, and you may feel helpless to change. Sweet friend, you have the power of God on your side, and He is there to do what you are unable to do alone.
Breakup wounds are gnarly and run deep. Healing is a process, that can’t be rushed, but it is possible. You may be bloody and bruised, and you are hitting back as hard as you can, but I beg you to stop, and retreat to your corner. Sit, listen and be silent. A surefire way to keep the breakup wound raw is through bad mouthing. Every time you criticize, rehash the past, or are just plain old unkind to your previous partner, you are pouring salt in your own wounds. Bad mouthing causes a chain reaction that explodes into anger, negative emotions, and frustration, leaving us exhausted and feeling crummy. Let's face it, even if you land a knockout blow, there may be that instant sense of gratification, but it wears off, leaving you feeling down and out. Why? Because you are not in alignment with your identity in Christ.
I am not belittling, nor judging your circumstances or your reactions to your children’s father. But, at some point, healing is necessary, for you and your family. The longer you stay in a place of bitterness and negativity the longer you remain in a place of brokenness. Galatians, 5:15, sums it up best, “But if you keep on biting and devouring one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.” I don’t know you personally, but I know from one sister in Christ to another, that devouring your child's father, is not what you desire for you or your family’s life, nor is it representative of you.
What turned my heart from a place of bitterness to contentment was not me, it was… the Lord. I could never do it on my own. You have an arsenal of resources at your disposal, such as, counseling, support groups, even apps for custody logistics, that can help you co-parent more efficiently, but have you tapped into the most effective and powerful tool of all, prayer?
If you sincerely desire a transformed relationship with your children’s father, stop complaining and start praying for him. If you just survived a horrid custody trial or are in the throes of divorce, this step may not be intuitive. However, I promise that this is a no fail step, and even if there is no apparent change in your child’s father, you will see a change in you and that is where the road to healing begins. In the flesh we are driven by ego, blinded by pride, and motivated through our circumstances. God, however, can transform our vision and help us see through a spiritual rather than fleshly lens that can completely transform us, and how we deal with our pain.
My 30-Day Challenge to You…
I propose and challenge you to pray for your children’s father for 30 consecutive days. Don’t turn, the page, just yet. Are you burned out from this relationship? Then bear with me and hear me out. Envision what a healthy co-parenting relationship would look like for your family. What would it take for the two of you to evolve to a place of forgiveness and stability for your children? I suggest...
Pray for your vision to become a reality
Every time you are ready to complain… pray.
When anger starts to swell up…pray.
When you are mourning, and bitterness takes root…pray
God works in radical ways when we place our heavy yoke at His feet. Pray that God touches your children’s dad’s heart, spirit and mind. Pray unselfishly, and generously. Pray that he reaches a place of forgiveness, and the door is open to pursue peace, kindness, respect, compassion and understanding. Whenever you hesitate, to pray for him, remember that God doesn’t view him as your ex. He doesn’t just X him out, he loves him like he loves you. When you hurt him, and vice versa, you are hurting someone the Lord loves. This should make us pause. The Lord knows we are human, sinful and full of flaws. In His goodness He gives us unmeasured grace, so let that grace be a motivating factor in praying for your children’s father. Your prayers will be the bulldozer that tears down the sturdy walls built from bricks of anger, hurt, and resentment. Slowly a foundation will be laid that holds a new space and place for your family to begin anew. It will be different, but it can be better and stronger.
The second part of this challenge is to ask God to reveal to you the changes that need to occur in your attitude, mind and heart to build a stronger co-parenting relationship, and to make the new dynamic work. Examine those parts of you that cling to destructive patterns and habits when dealing with your child’s father. Philippians 1:27 tells us, "Whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Paul reminds us of our responsibility to conduct ourselves as followers of Christ. Notice he says, “Whatever happens.” This little caveat can be a hard teaching to accept, and even more difficult to live out because our flesh demands justice to be just on its terms and not on God’s terms which is why we need to rely on the Lord.
If you are burned out from a contemptuous relationship with your children’s father, decide today to choose to pray for him. Be a peacemaker and a woman of God that brings about the fruit in this fractured relationship through prayer, grace, forgiveness and kindness.
The Burnout Remedy
Coupled with prayer, add this 3-step remedy to the healing process!
3 Steps to Healing the Wound
Clean the wound
Don’t pick at the scab
Let it Heal
Let’s break it down and start on the path of healing!
Clean It: Come clean. Stop transferring your dirt to the other party. In this first stage, take accountability and assume responsibility for your actions, and your role in your current circumstances. Start the purifying process with an honest self-reflection balm. This is a brutal but crucial step. The release of these buried toxins will give your body and mind the release and relief it so desperately craves. Picking out the impurities in a wound is a painstaking process, and hurts like heck, but it stops the wound from spreading and infecting other areas. You can’t start the healing process, if you fail to clean the wound.
Stop Picking at Your Boo-Boo: When my daughter would get a boo-boo, I constantly had to remind her to stop picking at the scab. Once you clean your wound, and the scab forms, it is on its way to developing a new skin. Picking starts when you get an itch at the surface, for example, a rehashing an old argument with your kid's dad, whatever your itch is, it acts as a catalyst for you to start scratching a little harder every day, until the wound bursts open. Learn what itches (triggers) set you off and intentionally choose not to pick.
Allow Your Wound to Breathe: My grandmother used to say, that for scabs to properly heal they had to breathe. Give yourself permission to breathe and exhale all the yucky stuff that no longer serves you or contributes to your spiritual health. Instead of fighting, embrace your new life even if it doesn’t resemble the one you expected. Wounds heal, new skin forms, and scars may be visible, but in time, they are simply a reminder of your journey... every messy, crazy, beautiful part of it that you have owned and bravely walked through.
A Daily Word to Light Your Path...
Day 1: Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Day 2: James 4:1 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?”
Day 3: Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Day 4: Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Day 5: James 3:18 “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
Day 6: James 3:6 “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
Day 7: Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
A Prayer for You..
I come humbly before you in surrender. Lord you know my anger, my disappointment, and every feeling embedded in my heart that I can not express. I drop it all at your feet, and ask you to bring a healing in my relationship with my children's father. Lord, show me how to pray for him, how to break down the walls that hinder our communication, and that block a peaceful pathway for us to raise our children. Let me see this relationship through a spiritual lens. Let our conversations be seasoned with kindness and respect. Cut down any bitter root that is growing and replace it with seeds of forgiveness and grace. In Jesus's name I prayer.