I knew it had been quiet too long. I walked into the bathroom and found my two-year-old daughter standing on her stepstool, gripping my eyeliner pencil like a magic marker. She looked up at me with accusing blue eyes, as if I had interrupted her on a very important phone call. She had scribbled a thick black line from the corner of her mouth to her right temple.
“Beautiful,” she said.
A few days later, we were running late getting out the door. Despite my asking her a handful of times to go get her shoes, she had not budged. Instead, she stood in front of the hallway mirror, glued to her own reflection. She was wearing her favorite dress—the puffy one from Nanny Betty, the color of Pepto Bismol. Tule exploded from every angle as she turned her little hips from side to side.
“Princess,” she said.
I used to think Christians were the weirdest people on the planet. I couldn’t trust their joy—why were they smiling all the time? Their willingness to help was disturbing—why did these total strangers want to help furnish my apartment? I was annoyed with the way they remembered my name and spelled it correctly. Attention to every detail. What do these polished smiling people want from someone like me? They’ve obviously never experienced pain like I have. They’ve had it easy their entire lives.
Well, I’m one of those weird Christians now. God came into my life and interrupted my judgmental assessments of his people. And recently he’s been showing me some truths about fighting for joy.
It was one of those days where nothing turns out as planned. I was driving home with my daughter in the backseat, feeling sorry for myself. The soundtrack in my head went something like this:
You can’t provide for your daughter.
Nobody wants you.
You’ll always be alone.
The Enemy isn’t very creative, is he? It seems like he repeatedly attacks the same place he knows it hurts most. I needed to vacuum. Ever since I got sober, I’ve found it to be an excellent coping mechanism, so that’s precisely what I did when I got home. I powered up my Dirt Devil and inched it around my tiny apartment, trying to let go of the pain of the day. As soon as I finished, there was a knock on my door. Since I’m a single mom living in a questionable part of town, I don’t make a habit of answering my door at night. But this knock sounded urgent, persistent. When I cracked open the door, I was relieved to see a friendly-looking portly man, smiling from ear to ear.
“Are you Kelli?” he asked me in a tone so cheerful I was nearly convinced I was a Publisher’s Clearing House winner.
If we want to know more about our Creator, the best place we can look is in his Word. Reading through Scripture is a surefire way to decipher what God loves, what he cares about, and what he wants from us. When I read through my Bible, something jumps out at me very clearly: God has a special place in His heart for the fatherless. It is evident he places special focus on children who are not loved well by their earthly parents. Here are just a few examples:
- “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4)
- “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” (Psalm 10:14)
- “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
Maybe this is your first Christmas as a single parent; maybe it is another in a long line. Maybe you’re in the midst of a custody battle and you won’t get to spend December 25th with your kiddos this year. Maybe you’re a widow, and every Christmas seems to be more difficult than the last. Maybe you’re struggling to make ends meet and you won’t be able to buy that gift your child has been asking for. Regardless of what brought you here, I want you to know I’m praying for you, and you aren’t alone.
I never thought I’d be a single mom. Actually, I hadn’t even seriously considered being a mom at all. About two years ago, I was living about as far from God as you can imagine. I was at the peak of a seven-year drug addiction and losing control of my life. I was in and out of homelessness and barely hanging on to the job I’d gotten after graduating from college.
In the 1800s, back before fire engines made their debut in America, firefighters relied on horses for transportation in emergency situations. But not just any horse could serve as a fire horse. They needed to be resilient, agile, obedient and courageous. At the scene of the fire, they needed to stand patiently while embers and flames surrounded them. It was imperative for them to be still in the midst of distractions, holding their positions while the fire was being fought.
Doesn’t it feel like our world is set ablaze with misinformation, broken promises, and distraction? In this sex-saturated culture, promoting sexual risk avoidance can feel like fighting a fire much bigger than we are.
The good news is that we don’t have to fight alone. We have the Truth on our side. Saving sex for marriage is God’s plan for our bodies but it’s also the safest, healthiest lifestyle choice for our youth. Research shows that saving sex for marriage means enhanced emotional support, vastly lower poverty rates, better academic success, and fewer incidents of crime, child abuse, and domestic violence.
We are living in a culture that screams to our youth that premarital sex is inevitable and STDs are no big deal. Sometimes it can feel like the flames are burning out of control. Sometimes the heat feels like more than we can take, like we might just become enveloped in the blaze. But like the fire horse, we need only to stand firm and strong while the fire is being fought by the Truth.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14