Ciara with her daughter, Audri
The image is still vivid in my mind. We were in a Men’s Wearhouse parking lot, picking out his tux for our wedding. Our relationship was on-and-off for six years, but we had finally decided to get married. We bought a house and we even had an 8-month-old daughter. But in a parking lot, boxed in by solid white lines, it all fell apart.
We had a conversation that I couldn’t ignore.
In a state of shock, confusion, and panic, I moved two hours away and began my journey as a single mother. It’s a journey that initially tore me apart, but one that eventually found me not only content but joyful. I know that doesn’t make sense. But it’s what happened.
It wasn’t the easiest of starts. Every day, I would drop my daughter, Audri, off at child care around 7am, drive an hour to my office downtown, and work 8-5 almost always with a smile on my face. But it was a fake smile. I didn’t want to bring my personal problems into the work environment, but the truth was I missed Audri desperately. I spent my lunch break at a little cafe looking at pictures of her on my phone, secretly wishing I was mashing up her food and flying her “airplane spoon” into her tiny mouth. I worried for her safety and health every second. I felt guilty for working while a stranger taught my daughter her ABCs. But what could I do? I’m only one person. I can’t be the sole financial provider and the homemaker simultaneously.
After days, then months, then years of this, I began to feel as if the walls were closing in on me. I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I had no one to relate to. I attended group classes for single mothers at a nearby church, but the women were older and their children were in different life stages. My friends, although loving, would never be able to understand and I couldn’t expect them to. I was changing diapers while they were at the movies.
But one day, it all changed.
Up until that day, I had grown ashamed of my brokenness and thought it was my mess to handle alone. But in that moment, I grew tired of being tired. I became desperate for something more fulfilling. I became desperate for Jesus. I was a Christian, but I had never really allowed my faith in God to permeate the very center of my lifestyle. A lifestyle that had me facing a lot of challenges alone.
But that’s when the truth hit me: I would never have peace if I didn’t ask God to step in as my “husband.” That outlook changed everything.
I began waking up at 6am to read the Bible before work. I posted scripture all over my apartment as sweet little reminders of God’s infinite love. I ended each night in the floor of my bedroom on my knees in prayer, even when the prayers had no words. I knew God could hear my internal cry, and I began seeing the results of His love and tenderness.
Don’t get me wrong, life didn’t suddenly become easy, but my perspective changed forever.
Don’t get me wrong, life didn’t suddenly become easy, but my perspective changed forever. By placing Audri and myself second to God, I found an incredible sense of strength and independence I would never have known.
That’s what I want you to know, especially if you’re a single mom.
Know that you are understood and loved intimately by the creator of the universe. Take a deep breath in and smile because you brought that child to life when abortion was the convenient alternative. God makes no mistakes, and your little one was given to you for a purpose. Trust that God’s timing is perfect. Sometimes God gives us more than we can handle, so that we come crawling to Him for dependence. The good news is that He promises to “never leave us nor forsake us.”
You know what you should do now? Reward yourself. Have a popcorn/movie night past bedtime. Take a long drive or a hot bath. Be proud of yourself for a moment. I know I am. I taught Audri how to crawl, months later she took her first steps on my bedroom carpet. Now she’s potty-trained, and saying things like “You’re so precious to me mommy, I love you.” But don’t be too prideful to ask for help every now and then. I’ve since learned to acknowledge that I’m just one person and I’m not invincible. For instance, my parents will drive to pick her up one day a week from child care and stay while I take care of chores and personal things I often neglect.
More than anything, I encourage you to discover your worth and influence. Understand that no matter how important being a mother is, it’s not where you find your worth. It comes from something greater, from someone greater. And that’s what I’m going to teach Audri. Her value and identity is in Jesus and, nothing else the world offers is as freeing as that. I will fail her, but God won’t. And He’s the best parent she could ever have.
Ciara Sims is the founder of VeiledFree and veiledfree.com, a website dedicated to faith and fashion. She’s passionate about encouraging people to find freedom and connect with one another. Follower her on Instagram (@veiledfree) for faith and fashion inspiration.
(Photo source: Ciara Sims)