God With Us in Newness

God With Us in Newness
The holidays can be very difficult for single parents. The one thing we can count on is change, like changes in tradition and changes in time with our kids. What we once knew is often now very different. God promises He will turn all things to good and that He is doing a new thing in our lives, but the idea of newness and change can still make us uneasy. Our dreams that have been shattered leave us picking up the pieces while walking into a new frontier. We don’t know how things are going to turn out especially after facing the unexpected already.
How do you embrace the new and encounter God in newness?
  • Identify past dreams and past realities - Be authentic and take inventory of what you have lost and how you are feeling. Take time to grieve specific losses. If you move on too quickly, you can stay stuck and carry the pain with you. As you embrace God in newness, acknowledge your dreams but also acknowledge your realities. Sometimes loss can make us look at the past through rose colored glasses and remember things more utopian than they were making it harder for us to move on.
  • Pray about what could be. Become willing to dream again. Confess to God if you are afraid of dreaming again. Ask Him to help you dream about a new future, new possibilities, and a new you. Change is hard but staying the same can be even worse. Ask God to be with you in the new so you don’t miss the opportunities planned for you in the now.
  • Accept that new is the new normal. Start to live in a state of anticipation. Began to believe that what is coming is better than what you left behind. New can be scary but it is also full of possibility.
Newness can be scary for anyone. As a single parent, Marissa, shares that when she first became a solo parent after her husband died, she longed for an unbroken world where all things were made new and better. What she realized though is that brokenness in the world doesn’t change but we can be made new despite that. Past experiences and losses, while hard, can serve to change us, to make us new and different. Like Paul, we can learn to embrace any circumstance provided God is with us. But embracing change is hard because what comes next may not be what we want. There is uncertainty in “new”. Old feels safe and reassuring because even if it wasn’t best, we still knew what to expect, and in many ways that feels comfortable. 
To embrace the new, we must first identify our past dreams and past realities. We must take time to accept that what we once had or hoped for is no longer possible. The ideals and dreams of where our life was going must be examined. We have to face the reality of what is happening now. We all want happy kids, effortless parenting, a perfect home. We often look at our lives through a Hallmark filter that isn’t realistic. It represents hopes and dreams but not our real-life experiences. Before we embrace the new, we have to realize that some of our ideals were not congruent with our actual lives. Looking back is important because we can’t grieve something until we identify it. It’s impossible to move into the new without letting go of those ideals and realities. It’s helpful to see that our lives weren’t perfect in the past anymore than they will be now or in the future. Accepting and acknowledging this helps us grieve and then let go.
Maybe the newness this year means you can’t provide as many presents for your kids as you want to or maybe your house doesn’t have Christmas lights outside. But, instead of presents, remember that your kids want your PRESENCE. Instead of Christmas lights, your kids want to see light in your eyes when you look at them. Embracing the new can bring up grief but it can also help us realign our priorities. As we do this, we may experience transitional hurt. We feel the excitement or joy of what is ahead while also feeling the loss of what we are moving away from.
As you move toward the new, second, ask God to be with you. Pray about the future. Ask Him what is next and what is best for you and for your kids. Let Him be part of the process. We may have ideas of what is best but God’s ways are different than ours. We sometimes think the areas of loss in our life must be filled with something that is the same as what we had before but God often provides something else, something better. In our longing for what we had; we can miss what He is giving us instead. Especially when His plan in the new surprises us. Isaiah 57:15 says, “I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are sad and humble. I give new life to those who are humble. I give new life to those whose hearts are broken.” We can go to God honestly, humbly, and share our broken hearts with Him. He will meet us there and be with us in the hurt. Rather than cling to the old, we can ask Him to help us embrace the new. God is a multiplier. He can take the little bit of faith we have and turn it into something amazing and wonderful.
Sometimes asking “what if” questions can help us look ahead with God. “What if the old tradition needed to be changed anyway?” “What if the plan I had was leading me to a worst place only I didn’t know it?” “What if what God has in store is even better than what I had before?” Asking  questions like this allows an opportunity to embrace the idea of new with curiosity. Robert Beeson said that prompts like this, while journaling, helped him let go of the past and move toward the new with more openness. This process is cathartic. Offering the future to God allows Him to start painting something new on the canvas of your future. Psalm 37:5-7 says,  “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.” As we let God into our future, He will help us each step of the way. He will bring light to what we once thought would be dark days.
After first acknowledging and grieving our past dreams and past realities, and second, inviting God into the newness with us, third, we can accept that new is our new normal. This season is different. And, it is supposed to be. We aren’t here by chance. God can and will shape our experiences, past and present, into His plan and will for our lives. Even when things are new and uncertain to us, they are not surprises to God. Knowing He holds our lives and future in His hands can help us embrace the new as our new normal. 
When we submit our lives to God and dare to dream again, we can trust Him to redeem our experiences. He won’t restore things exactly as they were but He can bring forgiveness, healing and redemption to those events. And He will go with us into a new future.
Our tendency is to want God to bring back what we once had, to replace what we lost. Instead, God often brings us something different but better. Maybe we think redemption should mean we get married again, and quickly, but that isn’t how God works. God’s idea of new isn’t always our idea. God can make new out of things in ways we didn’t know were possible. God can resurrect dead dreams. He can bring to life places in our hearts that we thought would neve live again.
The newness of God isn’t in the replacement of all things but in the redemption of all things. And He can and will bring that redemption. Accepting new as the new normal means a future full of hope and light. Healing happens as we walk ahead with Him. Finding God with us in newness is a process. We first need to accept and acknowledge the past, ask God to be with us in the new, and to embrace new as our new normal.
Single parents, as you embrace newness in this season, you are not alone. As you walk the journey of solo parenting, we want to offer encouragement and hope any way we can. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups meeting Monday through Saturday 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 info@spsociety.com.

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