“How much is enough? The standards we look up to. The people and lives we compare ourselves to. What is a success and what is failure?
I had my daughter at 19. I remember the exact moment I found out I was pregnant. I had to re-evaluate everything; my life was over. My heart was pounding and I felt as though a wave of fog had fallen over me. I remember crying and feeling so close to death; all the while, life was forming inside of me.
I started to bash my head into the ground out of desperation. If it was not for the support of my friend, Liana, I don’t know where I would have been. I called over the boy I was infatuated with to tell him the ‘good news’, knowing he had no commitment to me. I will never forget the first words out of his mouth: ‘Get an abortion!’ I felt so unsupported and alone.
Not once was I asked what I wanted to do or how I was feeling; he made everything about him. My actions caused me to deal with the consequences. Although those words hurt, that gave me more motivation to give my unborn child a chance at life. I wanted to take responsibility for my actions, despite knowing that my life would be extra difficult as a result. I remember pleading with God to protect me and guide me during those moments.
He did just that. I was working 40 hours a week at a pizza shop and going to school 40 hours a week to start my career. At the time, my baby daddy was still trying to figure out how he was going to ‘deal’ with his actions. He was going out and partying, inviting me to things occasionally while I felt swooned he would even think of me.
Meanwhile, I was trying to make our relationship work. He was sleeping with other girls and gave me an STD. I got rid of it. How could one be so selfish when it comes to another life? Is life only worth it when it’s convenient for you? It was far from convenient for me yet I chose to put my daughter before myself.
During my eighth month of pregnancy, we tried to officially make it work. At nine months and a week late, I was induced into labor while her father breathed in my face the smell of burgers and onions because I couldn’t eat due to the induction and then continued to sit and mope in a corner while I was in pain about to give birth.
I gave birth to the most wonderful gift there was, a 7 lbs 10 oz. baby girl named Addison. I even said I love you, to her father, for the first time (thinking that’s what love was… I mean we just had a baby together… we were supposed to say that, right?). I was trying to think about a future and do the ‘right thing’.
Fast forward a year. We didn’t work and I graduated from school. I was working at a salon. Struggling with the fact that I gave up my youth, I got involved with the wrong group of people and started doing cocaine. Wrestling with God and all the difficult questions I had to face felt overwhelming and cocaine was a way out of it. It also aided me in having the energy to work and be a mother while numbing the toxic relationship I had with her father and my family.
Looking back on it, I was young. I didn’t have the support I needed. I was sad and angry and depressed and vocalized my hurt when I had panic attacks. I didn’t feel good enough and I had everyone looking towards me to fail. I became your average single mom statistic. I tried getting plugged into my church as someone different. Instead of the broken, abused child, I was now the unwed single parent.
I prayed so intentionally about finding another single mom to hold each other accountable. I never prayed for anything because I didn’t feel like I deserved to ask God for anything. Little did I know that we just have to trust that His plan is to love us through it all.
In 2013, a week clean from drugs, I met a man who seemed like my savior. He loved Jesus and looked at me like he wanted to get to know me. It turned sexual very fast and I wound up convincing myself and my family that we were going to get married and things would be okay. The pickle was… he lived in California.
A few months into our relationship, me and my daughter packed up our things without a real commitment and moved to Los Angeles. As I was detoxing, I was starting a new life and I did not have the support I needed. I was depressed. I didn’t have much of an income. I was away from everything I once knew and grew up with. The guy I moved out to LA for wound up using quotes from the bible to manipulate me and make sure he was right in all things. I didn’t know scripture as well as I should but I knew what he was saying was not right. This relationship could have turned abusive, but the day that he kicked me and my daughter out on the streets was the day, in my mind and heart, that I would never return.
I will never forget this moment. It was another step towards fully surrendering. I wound up driving around and found a tree in Tujunga that I pulled next to. I cried my heart and soul to God. I was angry and afraid. ‘Why would you do this to me?’ I have prayed and asked for family. ‘Why have you not met my needs?’ My heart was yearning for a clear answer.
Funny thing is, I look back now and realize that God blessed me then. He gave me the opportunity to break me down and show me that I had family all along, my daughter. I just needed to choose to listen to Him and have that leap of faith in conviction. I made a list of reasons to stay and reasons to leave. The smart thing to do was to leave and go back to Ohio, but after a long conversation with my dad, he asked what was Jesus trying to say to me. My heart was skeptical yet I knew I needed to stay.
Me and my daughter wound up staying with a friend that took us in for a month as I slept on their couch. I saved up enough money within that month (I honestly don’t know how!) and got my own studio apartment with my daughter. My neighbors easily started to become very close friends in my life, friends that I never had experienced. The kind that didn’t want only to use me.
Friends started to turn into family. But once I got settled, I also got complacent. I was raising a daughter on my own and feeling alone again. The weight of it was affecting my mothering. I would get angry and yell at Addison, yet her heart was always so gracious and kind to me. Her father was taking me to court to try and make me pay for everything, including plane tickets and zero vacation time with me. He won. The only difference is I pay half of the plane tickets. If he only knew my heart, I didn’t want to fight and I would never take her away from him. I just wanted to see an effort of him wanting to be in her life, not through the courts, but with making a real effort into a relationship with his daughter.
More fighting and more debt as a single mom started to make me spiral down again. If it wasn’t for my two best friends, Jake and Karl, I don’t know what I would have done. They talked sense into me and were there each night for me and my daughter for hours and hours of tears.
There are many more details in between but my friend Julie wound up inviting me to church. There I met another single mom, whose daughter is now my daughter’s best friend. I wound up getting plugged into a community and serving and reconnecting with the Lord. My life started to turn around. It was the first time I realized who my daughter was. She is not a project, she is a human that I have the honor of raising.
To this day, I believe Addison is not mine. She is a gift from above. I can’t undo the things that happened in my life and I can’t unsee the turth about who Jesus is. I can’t recall the exact moment when the truth hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t think it did.
God has been revealing himself through all things in life. He is so woven and in control of all the details. Can you see it for yourself? He is my strength. He is what gives me the drive to be good for my daughter. I fail all the time and it is through his abundant grace and forgiveness that I get up.
Single motherhood is hard. The thing is… stop comparing things that you don’t have and start giving praise for the things that you do have. Parenting refines everyone. It is such an honor and gift to be my child’s mother. By submitting to the Lord, I have seen such a change in my household and it is peaceful.
30 years later, with a 10-year-old daughter, we still yell and bicker at times. Yet, we come together in the end with a repentant heart. I have to forgive her father daily and show him the love. Things are still worth fighting for despite what he has done to me and my daughter. The problems do not go away, I just look at them differently. All of a sudden the problems that seemed overwhelming are in God’s control.
I will fail. I am selfish. I thank God for loving us so much that through his act of selflessness I am reminded how to look at myself like he looks at me and I can love others. I am nothing without Jesus; His love and His grace. I am not enough to do this on my own. He is enough.”
This story was written by Danielle Badger of Los Angeles, California. You can follow her on Instagram here. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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