Today’s Single Parent Spotlight comes from a wonderful single mom I’ve had the pleasure connecting with online and has provided me endless support and encouragement. Kelley is a single mom of two amazing sons – Darian, 22 and Ryan, 18 and has a grandbaby on the way!
I have finally reached a point where I need to explore the lessons that I continue to learn about faith, love and a healthy dose of forgiveness.
In the years since my divorce all three of these things and more have been tested and pushed to limits that exceed one’s wildest thoughts. My faith in others shattered when I watched my marriage fall apart and friends turn away.
My Faith in God stretched to the limits and I wondered how much longer must my family and I had to suffer the pain and loss.
I have watched love walk out of my life; I spent countless days, weeks, months, even years in tears questioning my mere existence and why love seems to elude me. I have watched my faith become tested to the point where I once stopped going to church Without any reason or realm of understanding. Only later I realized there were/still some unresolved feelings where the church is concerned. Over the course of this year it seemed as if every time I pushed forward my faith was tested even more and I was knocked even further back.
How do I stand for Christ when at times it was almost as if He were not there? As if He left me hanging…I felt so alone for many many months. There were times I honestly questioned if God was truly listening to me. These turned out to be some of the darkest days in my walk with Christ. BUT GOD!!!… How do you have faith when it seems like everything is against you, even God?
For months I struggled. I struggled with so much when it came to the act of getting out of bed and setting foot in church. It was a struggle to insert myself in the midst of church folk when it was church folk that scorned me. I tried after my divorce but it just didn’t seem to work. I tried to connect with ministries within the church but felt out of place on every turn. I tried to talk to leadership but it fell on deaf ears. While I struggled, I kept praying, kept crying and continued to wonder ‘what in the world was going on with me?’…
While my faith was truly tested, I never lost it. I continued to hold on to God’s unchanging hand, even when it seemed as if God was silent the entire time.
Now let’s visit this thing called LOVE. Love is such a powerful word. I tell my two sons I love them daily. That is the love that only a parent can give. I tell my best friend that I love her – that is that brotherly/sisterly kind of love. I am surrounded with these two kinds of love on a daily basis.
It is that Eros kind of love that was badly damaged for me. That’s the kind of love where you have love for your spouse. I had that kind of love once before. I cherished it. Thrived in it. It was powerful. That all vanished when my marriage ended. Our love was damaged to the point where I thought that I would never love again or even want to love again.
For a long time, I was scared to open my heart up to love. I ran from every aspect of this type of love for a LONG time. It was a few years ago when I realized that I was open to the possibilities of love again. I am still shy about the entire thing but I am willing to give love a try. It was in this time that my heart was restored back to God to allow even the thoughts of love to enter my heart again.
My heart was so badly damaged after my divorce it truly scared me. Can you say convent? Navigating through the ugliness of divorce and even when things got better, I found that I had to learn to let go of the ugly, let go of the bitterness, and resentment. I had to learn to love again. Learn to trust again. I decided I had to learn to love my ex again…in a different way. No longer do I love him like a wife loves a husband, but I love him. I love him because we have history, I love him because he will always and forever be a part of my ‘Story. There will always be love for him, but it’s different now.
Through my faith being tested and my poor heart taking a beating, I had to grow to the point of forgiveness. Yes forgiveness! In the midst of all of the ugly, all of the hurt and the pain, I had to get to a place in my life where I could let go of it all and move on with my life. How do I profit from holding on to the ugliness of my divorce? What do I gain from hating my ex and his wife? Not a darn thing… It gets me nowhere (except maybe a headache and an ulcer).
When we harbor unforgiveness in our lives, it becomes this invisible hold on us. We are unable to function and move forward because this weight of unforgiveness is holding us back. I can truly say that I have forgiven and moved on with my life because now that Ryan’s dad (my ex) has remarried. I am truly happy for him. I came to the conclusion that he decided to marry this woman and she is now a part of my son’s life whether I like it or not. I chose to accept it and be positive about it. Why? Because I needed to let go and because of Ryan. Because I forgave my ex and his wife for everything that surrounded our divorce I am able to accept the fact their marriage. I thank God that she is very supportive of Ryan and his dad’s relationship. She is also understanding that my ex (her husband) and I will continue to have contact because we are raising our son together. Through time and lots of prayer, forgiveness has come, reconciliation has taken place. I have reconciled with my ex because we have an awesome child to raise. The last thing our son needs to see is his parents (and step mom – yuck I don’t like that ‘step’ term) at each other’s throats. Co-parenting presented it’s own set of challenges for us but I like to think we overcame them. Are we best friends? NO. Do we agree on everything? NO. Do we work to find the best solution together? We darn sure try.
I will say that 8.5 years later, my sons are practically grown. My oldest is 22 with a baby on the way and my youngest, now 18, will be graduating from High School this year. It has been a challenge yet I rose to the occasion and raised two exceptional young men. Their dad and I are in a good place and I remain grateful for my life.
If you ever wonder if you have ‘truly’ forgiven someone, ask yourself this question: ‘Do I still get upset, angry, emotional when I think about the very thing that caused the pain?’ If you don’t react when these events come into your thoughts, then you have forgiven. For me, I know that I have moved on because I am at a place where my ex’s new wife is welcomed in my home with no issues. I know that I am at a better place because I am finally at peace.
Thank you Kelley for sharing your story with us and reminding me that while forgiveness seems impossible at times, it is possible and necessary. Kelley’s faith has kept her grounded and focused as she’s navigated the waters of single life and raising her sons without a partner. Kelley is amazing and I encourage you to connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.