My daughter came home one day upset because someone had said she came from a “broken home.” I had never considered our home broken. Oh, we have bent under the strain of a divorce, but we didn’t break—our family just changed shape. And even though our home is in a different shape than what I originally planned, it’s still in good shape.
Of course, I planned for an eternal happily-ever-after. But life brings changes and challenges, and I found that I was a single parent trying to create happiness in the here and now. It’s not always easy.
As a single parent, I have to lift myself up, no matter how hard I fall, because smaller feet are following in my footsteps.
I’m the only big person in my house. The car transmission, the broken lawn mower, the empty refrigerator—the problem solving is all up to me. The next shift is not coming in. No matter how tired I get, I have to keep going.
I wanted so much to be strong and independent, to make it on my own and prove I didn’t need anyone. But I do. And so when I needed help, I turned to the Church. I knew I could not raise my children alone, and the Church offered a supportive, loving network.
When I spent too much time nagging about housework and homework, loving Young Women leaders put their arms around my daughters and told them they were precious in the sight of God.
A conscientious home teacher built shelves, shoveled walks, and loaned me a lawn mower when mine refused to cut another strip of grass.
Ward members bailed out my basement when it flooded, changed flat tires, played Santa, and provided substitute fathers for Church activities.
A loving visiting teacher brought soup, jokes, and encouragement, along with messages that reminded me of my divine parentage and potential.
A good bishop exercised the priesthood, laying his hands on my head and gently reminding me that the Lord loves me and will keep his promises if I will keep mine.
It’s easy for single parents to berate themselves for failing at the very thing the Church emphasizes most—keeping families together. Divorce is hard on one’s self-esteem.
But I do know the Lord loves me. At times I have gone to him, complaining about how unfair life seems, and he puts his arms around me and enfolds me in his love. I know I am not alone. And in this parenting partnership between God and me, he is doing a lot more than I am.
It’s true that my family may not be in the shape I had originally planned. But we’re certainly not broken. And with the Lord’s help, I am confident that we can always be in shape to follow him and find peace and happiness.