“I’m Jordan, a single mom with two kids. It’s been a couple of years since my ex moved out and he’s even remarried at this point but I’m still having the hardest time letting go of the pain he’s caused me and the kids. I just don’t understand how I’m still so emotionally affected by what we went through. I know they say time heals all wounds, but I don’t know if that’s true. I mean, he’s moved on with his life, but I can’t seem to let go.”
To move forward after we’ve experienced hurt in our lives, we need to forgive and let go. But letting go is far from easy.
Letting go and having a painful emotional state lifted is a process and one that is relevant and necessary for everyone, not just single parents. We’ve all been hurt, and a natural reaction is to want to protect ourselves from future pain. We do this by holding on to the pain of the past to remind us not to risk going through that again. But this control is just an illusion. Even with our best efforts, we can’t avoid the possibility of future hurt yet we hang on tight to our hurts hoping that the memory will keep us from being vulnerable again. If we forget, we might get hurt again. Protecting ourselves feels like our number one priority. But relationships require risk so we must let go if we want to live into our future and open opportunities to connect in meaningful ways again. Accepting that hurts are a normal part of life is necessary, and that acceptance opens the door to being able to let go.
Letting go is difficult when you are still in contact with a person who has hurt you or someone you love. It can be triggering to engage with that person especially if their behavior continues. Even if hurts aren’t happening anymore, we can still hang on. And sometimes, we have a hard time letting go of mistakes we’ve made or shame we are carrying but letting go is important if we are to move on with freedom and health.
Letting go is a process and a necessary one as we are healing. To let go and move into freedom and health, there are three things we can do to help with this process, and these are things we can do daily:
1 John 1:9 says to confess your sins to God and Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens. In letting go of past hurts, both are important. Acknowledging our own need for forgiveness from God primes us to walk in humility, understanding that others need the same mercy and compassion. This is a precursor to forgiveness and letting go. The second verse helps us understand that each of us is carrying a burden. Sometimes this burden is from our own painful mistakes and sometimes they are from past hurts that have been done to us. Often, our burden is some of both. As we recognize this, it can help to remember and understand that hurt people hurt people. Often the things that have been done to us have nothing to do with us and everything to do with the one causing the harm. This realization can help us prepare to let go.
Confession can also help us let go of shame for things we’ve done or harms we’ve caused in the past. When we acknowledge behaviors and patterns in us that come from our own pain, we allow ourselves freedom to be human and recognize our own hurts can lead us to hurt others too. We all have baggage we are carrying around. When we look inside and share those things with someone else, we see them from a new perspective. Some of the power is released as look at them in a new light. Often, they don’t seem quite so dark or big or scary when we confess them and let others help us bear them. Sharing our experiences through confession, whether those done to us or those we’ve done, is one of the first steps to being able to let go. Telling your story allows you, as a survivor of past hurts, to take control of the narrative. The more you share what you’ve gone through, it’s healing in the moment but the accumulative effect also moves you toward letting go. An article in Psychology Today about sharing our stories says this, “Every time you tell your story and someone else who cares bears witness to it, you turn off the body’s stress responses, flipping off toxic stress hormones like cortisol and flipping on relaxation hormones like oxytocin and dopamine.” It relaxes your nervous system and helps heal your mind of depression, anxiety, fear, anger and disconnection. There is science behind the idea of sharing your story. As single parents we sometimes want to isolate, but it’s crucial to find safe, trusted people to share your story with. We created Solo Parent Society groups to offer that support and space to single moms and single dads so they can do that. Allow yourself to share your burden with others and be willing to carry others’ burdens with them too. This process of confession is a key step on the path to letting go for full healing and freedom.
In the process of letting go, confession is necessary and so is surrender. Letting go of control and leaving the outcome and results to God is tough! But when we release these things to God, we allow Him to bring healing, transformation, and hope in ways we never could. Hanging on to control is a form of self-reliance. We think we must control the outcome; we must get things done, we must make things come out right, but God is the only one with that kind of power. He wants us to seek Him for the outcome and results. He calls us to live in HIS power and strength not in our own. This can be difficult for single parents who feel so much responsibility to care for their kids and to correct the hardships in their lives. But it’s crucial. We were never intended to control all the variables including other people. Our job is to rely on God and seek Him, letting Him be God so we can rest in our humanity, trusting Him to do what we cannot. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” Trusting God in the daily process of surrender is how we “let go” and “let God”.
As we learn to let go through confession and sharing our burdens with others, and to let go by surrendering control to trust God instead, we also need to be patient with ourselves and with the process. It takes time to grieve hurts and pain. It takes time to let go of shame for past mistakes and it’s takes time to recognize and feel what you feel. In fact, it’s necessary. Part of the healing process is surrendering to how we feel. As you listen to your body, emotions, and what you need, be patient and compassionate with yourself along the way. This, too, helps us let go.
And, as we are letting go, we can ask God to transform and heal us. The pain we’ve experienced can be a wise teacher, propelling us toward passion, personal refinement, and reliance on God. But the process takes time. One of our solo parents quipped, “Patience takes too long!” and that resonates. It sure does but the results are worth it! Psalm 40 says, “I waited patiently for the LORD. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit and out of the mud and mire. He set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to my God. Many will see, and praise Him, and put their trust in Him.” We need to trust God and have patience in the process. The only things we have control over are our confession and our surrender to Him. Other than that, we need to trust Him knowing that one day, peace will come. So often, we want to get through our pains and hurts quickly, but healing takes time. Receive God’s love and tender care in the process.
Finding a new relationship or remarrying can seem like a worthy goal but reliance on God first and only is essential. If we seek new circumstances before we seek God fully, we will not be ready for them. The solo parent season is a refining process. It would be easier to run away but we can’t escape the pain. We will only delay our healing. Resist the temptation to escape or numb out with a relationship, a substance, or any other distraction. Instead, ask God to give you the ability to confess, surrender, and patiently trust Him. As you do, He will heal and refine you, and you will find yourself letting go to walk in freedom and joy again.
It can be hard to be patient with ourselves and the process of letting go. It might help to remember that God is not surprised or upset with us in our humanity and in our healing journey. Rather, He embraces us where we are. He is infinitely patient with us. He doesn’t want our perfection, our sufficiency, or our efforts. He simply wants our hearts, in confession and in surrender. Trust Him to do the rest.
As you navigate your journey of healing and letting go, we would be honored to be part of your support network. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups meeting 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.