You're Braver Than You Think: Solo Stories Of Courage

Solo parents often feel they are just hanging on and barely keeping things afloat. Robert Beeson, Solo Parent Society founder, felt that way too. Three years into his solo journey, a neighbor came up to Robert and said that she and several friends were talking about how much they admired him for all he was doing as a single dad and how brave he was in raising his daughters alone. Those words came at a time when he didn’t feel brave, and he didn’t feel courageous. Instead, he felt depleted. We are all facing difficult battles and not many of us recognize the courage we are showing in our daily choices to do what we do. We may have moments we feel strong but it’s a hard journey and too often we don’t see how courageous we really are.

We have seen that courage in so many of our solo parents and we want to celebrate them. But we also want to encourage you to notice all the ways you are being courageous too. We want to remind you that even while you may feel less than brave, we know you are showing courage, day in and day out, for your solo parent family. We want you to acknowledge all you do and feel proud of the ways you show up and are brave for yourself and for your kids. The simple act of noticing and remembering is powerful and can propel us forward. It can build our confidence and belief in ourselves at a time when we may be feeling less than. Most of us feel like were just scraping by but we want to let you know you are doing better than you think! You have shown more courage than you give yourself credit for.

Courage is not the absence of fear. You have to have fear to have courage. Life can be scary and facing scary things requires courage. Courage can look different in each circumstance. Sometimes we need courage to retreat. Other times we need courage to prevail or remain. We often need courage for our kids. Today we are looking at stories from solo parents that showcase each of these.

Kim shares that she found courage when she chose to leave her marriage. As a preacher’s kid she believed that marriage was for life. You didn’t leave. The courage to divorce was not for her but rather for her kids. She didn’t want them to experience some of the things that were happening in their home. When they begin to be impacted, Kim knew it was time for her to leave and that was “the scariest thing”. She had no money. She was working a part time job. Her dad was a well-known preacher in Canada. She was so afraid she was going to ruin her parents lives and her kids’ lives. Going to her husband and saying she wanted out was incredibly hard. It was only the kindness and faithfulness of Jesus that got her through. She didn’t want to leave her marriage or quit on her commitment. Divorce was the farthest thing from her mind. This was not a story she ever thought would be hers, ever.

Many solo parents find themselves having to make the same decision. Marriage is sacred but for those who have been through abuse or a toxic situation, choosing to leave is a courageous step for the safety of their kids or for themselves. Facing the difficult things going on in our marriages isn’t easy. We sometimes want to excuse the other person’s behavior. Making the choice to see things clearly and then deciding in the best interests of your kids or yourself requires tremendous courage, especially if we’ve been living with abuse or in a toxic situation for a while.

Courage to Surrender
Solo parent, Chris, shares about the courage to remain in a difficult situation. One day a series of traumas was discovered in one of my kids during coparenting time. These weren’t bad enough to warrant calling police, but they were heartbreaking. I wanted so badly to do something. I called the state and my lawyer. They said there was nothing that could be done until it got worse. I had no control or recourse to protect my kids. I even talked to the other parent. It didn’t stop. In fact, it was deflected as if I were the one doing it. My story of courage comes from where the Lord took me next. I had to completely surrender this situation. I was not strong enough to protect my kids. I had to rely on the Lord and His sovereignty to do it. I prayed and sought him in my devotion time. I came to Paul’s conversation about the thorn in his side. I remember explicitly telling the Lord, I can ask you to remove this thorn, but Paul had found it to draw him closer to the Lord. In my journey, I have sought a deeper and deeper dependence on the Lord and to surrender more and more of my life. This situation I felt was the next step so in my words to the Lord, I asked him to NOT take away this thorn but to use it to bring me closer into depending on him and not on me. While the situation as gotten better it is certainly not over, yet the Lord has shown himself faithful. MY story has shown me that the courage to surrender can bring about a greater change perhaps not in our situation but in our outlook and perspective.”
This kind of courage to trust God when we are not able to control our circumstances is profound. The courage to surrender brings about greater trust in God and a change in our perspective.

Courage to Keep Going
Solo parent, Kathleen shares, “There are so many solo parents raising children with disabilities. It makes the solo journey that much more difficult working to heal ourselves and help our children to navigate the new normal while fighting for the ones who need extra help. My son Case is 14 years old and one of those kids that fall in that category of children with disabilit8es. We didn’t know at first, but through a series of tests over the years, we discovered he had a unilateral hearing loss requiring a hearing aid, and stigmatisms in both eyes limiting his vison to 50% without glasses. Because we didn’t’ know about these struggles through the next several years Case struggles in school because he wasn’t receiving all the interventions and therapies that could be provided. One Sunday his reading specialist took me aside after church and asked if I had been given information on additional programs Case could qualify for and that the county would be responsible for the cost. As we were talking, I began crying and couldn’t’ stop. There was already guilt that I didn’t realize my son had vision and hearing issues. Now added to that how did I not know there was more assistance available for my son. How much time had been wasted where he could have been receiving additional help? Why didn’t I ask more questions at meetings? There is so much guilt when you’ve been juggling everything alone and you let one of the balls fall. I have had the courage that regardless of what happened in the past what matters is where we go from here. I stepped out and despite the guilt I carried, I applied and received a scholarship that covered the cost of an advocate for Case, and they assisted with IEP meeting and teaching me how to advocate for my son. In august of 2021 he will be entering the 8th grade and moving back into general education classes at the Christian school his sisters attend. There are still a lot of challenges to overcome, and 8th grade will be hard, but every step forward is a step to celebrated. My son may have challenges in school but some of the lessons he learns and shares with others come through his kindness, compassion, and willingness to help others. I have learned so much from his perseverance throughout our journey and pray every day for him to continue growing in all areas. God blessed me by giving this teacher the strength to trust me and have this conversation with me to bring this situation to my attention. To this day she makes herself available to me whenever I have questions navigating the process and its always held in confidence. In addition, I now have a group of people at Solo Parent Society that are traveling the same journey with the same struggles, and it makes each day less lonely.
It takes a lot of courage to step up, despite what has happened in the past and opportunities we might have missed and say, “what matters now is where we go from here”. There are a lot of incredibly courageous single parents who have a child with special needs and disabilities. We have so much respect for you as you tirelessly walk through challenges with your kids.  

Courage to Embrace Chaos
Solo parent, Stacy says, “I’m an energetic and high decibel person. What surprised me the most is how gentle courage felt? Most of my life I thought courage had to be bold but when my world fell apart the last thing, I could be was bold. I was broken yet courage was there. It wasn’t as loud or as boisterous as I had imagined. It was gentle and usually quiet almost unnoticed. It was waking up each day. It was taking each challenge as they came. I didn’t know what it was. I just knew I had to keep going. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens you, welcome to solo parent life, but guess what, I’m doing it. still scared, still courageous. I’ve learned to embrace the chaos and the beauty and that I have everything I need in me to navigate this new life.

Courage to Be Silent
Solo parent, Laura says, “God has given me the courage to be silent many times when dealing with my ex-husband. I find myself biting my tongue a lot in our conversations. One specific time I can remember is when we were first separated, and he was telling people I wanted to leave him because I was having an affair. My best friend called to talk to me because he had been telling that to her and her husband. I got really angry at first and wanted to give him the “what for” but God helped me realize that my ex could tell anyone whatever he wanted and that wouldn’t make it true. I knew the people who really knew and loved me wouldn’t believe his lies so I decided it would be better for me and for my kids if I didn’t start an argument with him.  God helps me know when to keep silent and when to say something.”
It can take intentional courage to bite your tongue and not respond in the way we might want to but instead be silent. God is our defender. Remember, “Without gossip a quarrel dies down”. We don’t always have to speak up to show courage. Sometimes courage is found in being quiet.
These brave solo parents are amazing, and we are so proud of their journeys and stories of courage.

Single parents, we want to invite you to join us at one of our weekly online meetings. Courage is found in community too as we draw support and strength from one another and our shared experiences. If you’re wondering what to expect, check out the podcast from last month about the Solo Parent Society community and what our groups are like.

It is essential to be deliberate about looking for the glimpses that God gives that sometimes exceed what we thought possible. So, we encourage you to take a few minutes this week and jot down YOUR answers to these questions.

Here are the questions to reflect on:
In my own life where have I seen?
Courage to retreat
Courage to prevail / overcome
Courage to remain
Courage to be silent
Courage for my kids
Courage to keep hope

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