“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?”
-Jeremiah 2:25 (MSG)
Have you ever felt the strain of too many life changes at one time? You know, where half your life is still packed in boxes and you have twice as many things to do in a day as normal? The kind of season where you feel stretched so thin that one little request can send you over the edge?
Recently, I found myself in that place. I had a lot of changes happen in a short amount of time, including moving to a new home in a new town and starting a new job on staff at a new church. For the first few weeks, I really struggled. I was unable to sleep well because my mind was spinning about all the new things I was learning and having to do, and I felt mentally and physically exhausted almost all of the time. On top of that, I felt like I was falling short as a parent.
One day when I got home from work my youngest daughter reminded me she had a party to go to that night and had to bring a snack. Instead of falling exhausted on the couch like I wanted to do, I switched into overdrive and made a batch of brownies in muffin pans because my baking sheets were still not unpacked. I was feeling pretty resourceful until I tried to remove the brownies and discovered these were not nonstick pans. So I had to carve each individual brownie out with a butter knife and try to make them not look like they’d passed through a meatgrinder.
When I was finally done, I breathed a sigh of relief and sat down at the kitchen table to rest for five minutes. It was then that my daughter asked me very sweetly if we could make frosting for the brownies, showing me a very complicated recipe from Pinterest that called for confectioner’s sugar. As much as I wanted to win the greatest mom award, I couldn’t do it. I sat there with a defeated look in my eyes and explained everything I still had to do that evening and told her making homemade frosting was the last thing in the world I had time for.
As I sat there wanting to cry because I didn’t have the physical or emotional energy to keep up with my own life, I felt God telling me to take a deep breath and slow down. He showed me that it wasn’t other peoples’ requests and expectations that were causing me so much stress, it was my own. Most of my “to do” list could be carried over to tomorrow. My unpacking could wait another day. My body and my heart needed to rest and enjoy the people around me and the blessings of the day that would pass me by if I kept going at such a frantic pace.
He was right.
As single parents, especially those of us in the middle of major transitions in our lives, we need to give ourselves more margin for rest and an extra measure of grace. Anytime there is a lot of change and relational or emotional turmoil, it takes a toll on our energy and our capacity to work and create…and parent. These seasons when we feel most overwhelmed and over challenged and like we can’t afford to sit down for a second are actually the times when we need to be still the most. We need to guard our time, minimize what we say yes to, and allow additional time for rest and refreshment.
So single mom…take a deep breath, slow down, and let your soul unwind.
Dawn VanderWerf is the founder and director of Single Parent Missions and author of The Daddy Gap. Dawn has been a speaker at single parent conferences in several states, including Survive N Thrive and Overflow, and is passionate about helping single parents find hope, healing and discover God’s purpose for their lives. To find out more or subscribe to her Hope Notes daily encouragements for single parents, visit www.singleparentmissions.com.