‘My ex remarried and had 3 kids. Believe it or not, we all went to Disney World together. God and Zoloft kept me going.’: Woman shares co-parenting journey, ‘We’re all on board!’

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“Proposal. Wedding. Bridesmaids. Groomsmen. Gorgeous pictures. THE dress. Bouquets. The ring. The cake. The honeymoon. The sex. It is what marriage is all about, right?

I know so many people who are so desperate for the ‘stuff’ the world tells us marriage is all about. They have a place in their heart and their lives that is so very empty, and they need something to fill that empty space. Whether they have never been married, or are divorced and feel an extreme need for that type of companionship to be replaced in their lives, their lives declare that they want something they do not have. Something they feel they NEED in order to be HAPPY.

We are told from the time we are young we are supposed to grow up, get married, have babies and live happily ever after. I would imagine just about anyone who is ‘grown up’ can tell you it’s just not that simple. Believe me. It’s not. So what do we do when we find ourselves single, but we don’t want to be?

I am a pretty good example of what not to do. I wanted all of the stuff. Mainly the kids. I have always wanted to be a mom. I just knew from an early age, I was made for it. So, I chose a husband based on what I wanted out of the union, not what God wanted or planned. Any marriage that starts with selfishness rather than godliness is likely doomed. I put what I wanted for myself in front of what I knew God wanted for me.

We all have empty places, but they all can be filled with a deep love for our Savior. Divorce is so prevalent in this society, and it hurts so many. If we all could be content with the place God has us in our lives, whether it is what we WANT or not, I think there would be so much less pain and destruction in our culture due to failed relationships.

Be glad in the waiting. The Bible is filled with people who were made to wait. The poor Israelites — ALL they did was wander around and wait. It is very likely God is preparing us in the waiting. Whether it be for the ‘perfect someone’ to come along, or whether He has other plans for our lives. We can always trust that His plans are better than ours.

My divorce was terrible. It had been ‘coming’ in a sense for a couple of years. I was pregnant with our second child when it all went down… and it was over Thanksgiving and Christmas. And, I had a 2-year-old. Ugh. BUT, that was over 13 years ago. By God’s grace, I decided a long time ago to pull myself up by the bootstraps and let Him have the lead. Rather than focusing on what I thought my life was supposed to look like, I stepped out in faith and let God show me where to go. It is His life anyway.

We have set a standard in this society of ours of what divorce looks like. Two people were married. Now, they are not. They hate each other. They go to court. They fight over money, kids, houses, cars. Once they are done fighting in court, they continue to fight forever and ever amen… because that is how it is done. They make nice for the kids (sometimes), but they can’t stand each other and the kids know it. They re-marry. Then, they hate the ones their ex’s have re-married. Pain. Disdain. Money. DRAMA. That is what American divorce is all about, right?

Divorce is hard. It is really, really ALL CAPS HARD. But, once it is over and the dust settles, shouldn’t the drama be over as well? Shouldn’t two grown people (especially if they have kids) LEARN to put their hurt and emotions aside and move forward?

I have an Ohana divorce. My ex has since re-married a woman who had two kids, and they have one together. So, at that time, the whole clan was three adults and five kids. Believe it or not, we all went to Disney World together. I even have pictures to prove it. ‘Ohana’ means family in Hawaiian, which you would know if you have ever seen ‘Lilo and Stitch,’ or if you have ever been to their character breakfast at Disney, where they take your Ohana family picture before you eat!

Courtesy of Jenny Clark

Let me say right now, this requires both sides to be on board in order for this to work. I know in many cases, that is just not possible. But, even in those cases, where the ‘other side’ may not want to cooperate in getting along, you’re not just out of luck. The Serenity Prayer (the whole thing not just the AA part) is what really helped me to see this and believe it.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

The only thing I can change is me. The only thing you can change is you. Things are not going to always be how WE want them to be. But we can seek wisdom and guidance from God, stay close to Him, listen, and follow His command to be like Him.

Oh, how I pray divorce will start to look different in our society. That God would use this terrible thing to draw His children closer to Himself if they do experience it. I know I will be personally accountable for how I have handled this time in my life… and that makes all the difference.

Courtesy of Jenny Clark

Being a single parent is HARD, and it does suck sometimes… sometimes a lot. But it is also amazing in so many ways. I want to clarify up front what I mean when I say ‘single parent.’ A single parent, by my definition, is anyone actively parenting children in any form or fashion, who does not have a spouse with whom to share that great responsibility. So, if you are an every other weekend dad trying your hardest to make a difference in your kids’ lives with limited time, if you are widowed, if you have a child or children but have never been married, if you have adopted on your own, or if you are divorced, etc…. this applies to you.

The fact of the matter is, God designed this job for two. But, for various reasons (as I listed above), many of us are doing the job on our own. And sometimes, that’s just hard. But often, when things are the hardest, they are ultimately the most rewarding!

I have honestly gotten so used to my single parent-ness, I sometimes forget the pain so many experience. Many of my single dad friends woke up on Christmas morning to a house filled with nothing but silence. So many of my single mom friends spend every other weekend in absolute misery because their children have so much become their identity that, although they are glad for the break, they simply don’t know how to function alone. But is there really a difference in the highs and lows we experience as single parents, and the highs and lows that are just a part of life in this broken world?

We are going to all experience hardships in life. That is a fact.

This responsibility is enormous, sometimes overwhelming, but also filled with great reward. It helps me to know this is fully on my shoulders, because it gives me focus. And when I keep my focus on God, and on raising my children to become disciples of Christ, so many of the other ‘what if’s’ and day to day struggles fade into the background. I randomly heard this on the radio a few years ago, and it has been on my bathroom mirror ever since. It gives me such a sense of peace each time I read it:

Courtesy of Jenny Clark

It says, ‘I love your kids EVEN MORE than you do… I AM going to help you do this.’ I can attest to the fact, if you allow HIM to help you, HE WILL. People asked me when I was pregnant and going through a divorce, ‘How are you still functioning and doing this every day?’ My answer is the same today as it was then: ‘God and Zoloft. In that order.’ Here are a few additional suggestions:

1. If you ask God to help you, AND LET HIM, He will.
2. If you need help, ask for it.
3. Find community with other single parents. Check out singleandparenting.org and find a group in your area.
4. Learn from and learn to lean on your married friends.
5. Stay focused on what your most important job is.

When things are the hardest, they are ultimately the most rewarding!”

Courtesy of Jenny Clark

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jenny M. Clark. It originally appeared on her blog. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories like this:

‘He’ll never be a dead-beat dad who got remarried and started a new life. And I refuse to be the evil stepmom.’: Bonus mom successfully co-parents with husband’s ex, ‘We all make the effort. We all show up. We are all present’

‘I invited my husband’s ex-wife to my wedding. In our family, we’re not ‘half’ or ‘step.’ We’re just family.’: Mom and stepmom come together to peacefully co-parent after feud, ‘women should always support each other’

‘Maybe it was possible we could live together again.’: Couple ‘breaks away from the conventional beliefs of what breaking up ‘should’ or often looks like.’

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