“My name is Stacy. I’m a single mom of two. I just wanna feel and be content. Especially in the world of social media, I struggle with having to see everyone’s picture perfect life on the screen. Somehow I feel like I got cheated and its hard for me to live in the moment and feel content.”
Can you relate?
Peace. How do we find it in our world of comparisons and the challenges of being a single parent?
Contentment is a pathway to peace… but, that sounds like a tall order. Our team of solo parents met to talk through how we can find peace even when inundated with “highlight reels” on social media and the constant pursuit of more and better. Sometimes our fear and loneliness fuels our discontent and discontentment destroys our peace.
We hear that comparison is the thief of joy. It’s hard to go anywhere without feeling like you’re not good enough or don’t have enough, particularly when you feel like your family doesn’t fit the norm. After the upheaval that led to becoming a single parent, our hurts can lead to feelings of being less than. Single parents know this reality. In our solo parent discussion, we found three practical ways to help unlock the secrets to finding peace even during hardship.
Philippians 4:11-12 says, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
This is a great verse, but it can feel like leaping a tall building to get there. It helps to remember that contentment is not conditional on getting what we want. It’s a mindset of being content with what we have, who we are and where we are now.
Phil 4:13 continues, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Paul is saying it is possible to find contentment no matter what because of Christ and His work in us. We sometimes take this verse and think it means we can get whatever we want now. Rather, it means that even when things get stripped away, we can still find contentment in Christ. This isn’t automatic or easy. Paul says it is something he learned. Learning requires practice and intentional action. To do this, we have to choose our mindset. We can choose to wake up miserable, bitter and mad or we can choose to be grateful and hopeful. Remember, we set the tone for our kids. They are watching us. We can choose to live with an attitude of gratitude even when we don’t have all we want. Some of the best memories our kids will have with us will come out of seasons where we have little in the way of material things, but we have each other. We also need grace for ourselves. Perfection is an illusion. It’s easy to get distracted by photoshopped images and picture perfect ideals but we can choose a mindset of gratitude and grace. When we do, we move toward peace.
Our perspective also matters. We find what we look for, good or bad. If we seek to find God in the ordinary, in the storms of life, and in our times of celebration, we will find Him. When the disciples were on the sea of Galilee, they saw a figure coming toward them. They thought it was a ghost and were afraid until they realized it was Jesus. Jesus met them in their ordinary lives and God will do the same for you. Their perspective changed when God showed up for them. Ours can change too when we remember He is with us even, ”when [we] pass through deep waters” (Isaiah 43:2). When we focus on Him, we can find peace.
God is in the business of meeting His people where they are with what they need. He is always doing stuff for us, miraculous stuff even, but we don’t always see it. Sometimes we need to pause and ask God where He is at in our circumstances. We need to seek Him, and when we do, we will find Him. We need to look at our lives through a lens of expectation that God is with us, God is on our side, and He will help us.
Contentment moves us toward peace. To get there, we need to consider our mindset and our perspective. We also need humility. We can bring our messes and disappointments to God humbly and honestly. Finding peace through contentment isn’t about pretending we have everything we want or life is going just as we planned. Instead, we can go before God with all of our hurts and unfulfilled desires. God can handle all of our disappointments and fears. When we act in humility and let it all out before God, God helps us work through those longings and hurts honestly, but He wants us to give them to Him. Humility is accepting our condition as less than perfect and contentment is found in embracing our deficiencies. It’s not about waiting to get what we want or having everything go as we plan.
Single parents do not have to have it all figured out. In our weakness, we are closer to God than we are any other time. God is close to the brokenhearted.
Contentment leads us to peace, and we find contentment through our mindset, our perspective and through humility. We must fix our minds on truth with gratitude and grace. We must look for God at work in our lives. We must lose our sense of entitlement and get honest with God. If these feel like difficult hurdles, ask Him for help! In gaining contentment in Christ, in any and every circumstance, we can find peace.