“I’m Joanie, a single mom of three girls. Now that my husband has passed away from colon cancer, I feel so scared that I am making all the new decisions all on my own. I’m scared to make more mistakes and do more things that could potentially mess up my girls. They’ve already been through so much in this season.”
After becoming a single parent, you can feel stuck. It is difficult to stand back up and have the courage to move forward. Fear can hold us back from taking risks and acting on what we know is beneficial or necessary. Sometimes we tell ourselves a negative story about how things will go and that keeps us from moving ahead. Things like having important conversations with our kids, setting boundaries with an ex-spouse or former in-laws can seem bigger when we are walking alone or don’t have a strong support system. Sometimes, feelings of being beat down or less than can keep us from doing things we should.
What action are you avoiding because of fear or discouragement? Is there something you know you need to do but haven’t found the courage to do yet?
We all need to learn how to face our fear and confront the obstacles to taking action. Our Solo Parent team researched and discussed how to do this and identified three steps to finding courage to take action. These steps are:
- Planning and preparing
- Doing it scared
We all need to learn how to take action even when we are afraid. We can take one step closer to action by first acknowledging and reframing our fears. Just because we feel afraid, it doesn’t mean a situation has to go badly or that obstacles cannot be overcome. We can acknowledge how we feel without letting it paralyze us. In fact, identifying our feelings is a step in the right direction because it allows us to think through a situation from different perspectives. We can accept our feelings of fear and reframe the scenarios we are playing out in our heads. Instead of catastrophic, or all or nothing, thinking we can remind ourselves that difficult things can end well and that obstacles can be teachers. We can remember that when things go differently than we hope or expect, we can still learn and grow form the experience. Sometimes to reframe things, we need the help of a counselor, mentor, or solid friends who can help us process whatever is holding us back from taking action. Proverbs 20:18 says, “Form your purpose by asking for counsel and then carry it out by using all the help you can get.” Seeking counsel from trusted sources is important. Ideally, these are wise people who also know you well and have a good sense of your heart.
Prayer is a significant part of reframing our fears. When we bring our fears before God, He brings perspective and peace in ways we cannot find on our own. Author Max Lucado shares, “Jeremiah was depressed, as gloomy as a giraffe with a neckache. Jerusalem was under siege, his nation under duress. His world collapsed like a sandcastle in a typhoon. He faulted God for his horrible emotional distress and he blamed God for his physical ailments. He said, “God has made my flesh and my skin waste away as broken bones.” His body ached. His heart was sick. His faith was puny. He realized how fast he was sinking so he shifted his gaze, “But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul. Therefore, I will hope in Him.” But this I call to mind, depressed, Jeremiah altered his thoughts and shifted his attention. He turned his eyes away from his stormy world and looked into the wonder of God. He quickly recited a quintet of promises:
- The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
- His mercies never come to an end
- They are new every morning
- Great is His faithfulness
- He is my portion
The storm didn’t cease but his discouragement did.” Just as Max Lucado writes, sometimes finding courage is as simple as shifting our gaze. Our world may seem to be collapsing around us but when we look toward God and bring to mind what He has done; we remember we can trust Him. When we put our confidence in Him, we can find the courage to take the next action step. Proverbs 3:26 says, “For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” So, how do we overcome those feelings and obstacles? How do we find the courage to take action?
Which of these promises from God’s word resonates most for you? What truths help you overcome fear?
So, the first step in finding courage to act is reframing our fears. The second step is planning and preparing. When we are facing circumstances that are scary, complex or overwhelming, or maybe even simple but ones we are avoiding, we can plan and prepare for them. We can ask questions, gather information, explore, and measure possible outcomes. Sometimes we resist facing our fears because denial or avoidance feels good in the moment but there is freedom in gaining understanding and looking at something head on. Gathering information helps us know what to do next. We don’t have to rush ahead. We can take one step at a time. Proverbs 21:5 in The Message says, “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run. Hurry and scurry put you further behind.” There is a risk in taking action but there is also a risk in not acting. Moving ahead intentionally isn’t something we need to do hastily. Rather, by planning and preparing, we can take action with care and consideration. We can evaluate as we go and remember God is with us in the process. God wants us to move ahead toward the plans He has for us. Fear will always be a factor in our everyday lives and even the best plans can go awry but planning intentionally can help us act intentionally.
Finding courage to act in the face of fear is necessary. Reframing and planning are crucial steps in the process but the third step is doing it scared. We can reframe our fears. We can evaluate our situation and determine if the outcome is worth the risk. We can plan and prepare for next steps. But then we must do it. We have to move ahead. Not all fears will go away. Some will remain even in the process.
Fear is a way of reminding us of our humanity and our need for God. We must remember that our confidence is in Him. When we put our trust in God and submit our plans to Him, He gives us the ability to take the next step. But whenever we step out of our comfort zone, we feel vulnerable. We feel afraid of being rejected, failing, or making a mistake. But the alternative isn’t healthy. Staying stuck because of fear stagnates our growth. Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” If we don’t embrace vulnerability, if don’t just ‘do it scared’, we will not change or grow. We must choose to act even if we are afraid to fail. Thomas Edison says, “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” Achievement of any kind is built on the back of lessons learned through failure. There is a time and place for reframing, taking inventory and planning, but “A ship is safe in harbor but that’s not what ships are built for.” Our decision making will not be perfect, but we must seek God and keep taking steps forward. We must set our eyes on the prize and set sail toward it.
Is there one step you can take this week or this month to “do it scared”? Who can you confide in and process this with that you trust as a wise mentor or friend?
As single parents, we can feel inadequate. We are often fearful of losing more than we already have. We may think of past mistakes and feel crippled by them because we don’t want to make any more. But we must keep going. We must find courage to act by reframing our fears and putting our confidence in God, by planning and preparing, and then doing it scared, knowing God is with us. Don’t let fear master you. Let God be Your final authority and safe place. He will give you the courage you need to move ahead and act, one step at a time.
As you move head in your journey, we want you to know you are not alone. We would love to be part of your support system and community. Join us by participating in one of our Solo Parent Society groups meeting (online or in person) every week. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@soloparentsociety). Subscribe to our weekly podcast via AccessMore or wherever you get your podcasts, and download our Solo Parent app FREE in the app store. We love to connect single parents to resources that offer hope and help. If you want to donate so we can reach more single parent families, go to www.soloparentsociety.com. Questions? Email us at email@example.com.