As single parents, we can’t do it all alone—especially the emotional moments. So it’s vital we find safe people who will encourage us when we feel defeated, who will celebrate the victories, and who will pray for us.
Last week I shared about running into someone I hadn’t seen in a while in Sam’s Club. She opened up about something she was struggling with, including the phrase “not that I’d put this on Facebook.” I completely understand that there are some places that aren’t safe to share our vulnerable moments.
After she opened up to me, I found myself opening up to her with something I wouldn’t post on Facebook either. Tears threatened to spill from my eyes as I asked her to pray for one of my kids who has been struggling with something I can’t fix. She prayed for this child and me right there in the aisle of Sam’s Club. It was a beautiful moment.
But not everyone is safe to open up to about struggles. Over the years I’ve learned some painful lessons about opening up or sharing too much information to the wrong people. I never wanted to be false or phony. I have always hoped that my willingness to share what I’m struggling with helped the other person feel free to share their struggles too. In the book Overwhelmed: How to Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity, authors Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory talk about determining if someone is a safe or unsafe person. They write, “Sharing my heart with people who do care is fuel for friendship. With those who don’t, it’s ammo for injury.” Ouch. I’ve experienced that. Have you?
In Exodus 17, we read about a battle that the Israelites were in. As long as Moses kept his arms raised to God, they were winning. But when his arms drooped, the battle started to shift against them. And so, two of Moses’s advisers and friends, Aaron and Hur, came alongside Moses and lifted his arms for him. Such a beautiful picture of friendship and help.
Now Aaron and Hur were not just some guys wandering by that Moses asked for help. These were his advisers, his close allies. They were his people. And nowhere do we read in this story that Moses hollered for help or told them what to do. These guys just came to help.
If you are a single parent, I encourage you to find your Aaron and Hur. Find your safe people. They don’t have to fight the battle for you or take care of your basic needs. But sometimes you need someone to lift your hands when you simply can’t do it anymore. Finding safe people to be vulnerable with is sanity for the single parent. You can do this because God believed you were the best person to parent these kids. But he never asked you to do it all alone.
There are so many things that make a friend a safe one. In Overwhelmed, Cheri and Kathi have a beautiful “Safety Sorter” that lists some hallmarks of safe vs. unsafe people. The safe people are defined as either Cheerleaders (who inspire, encourage, and notice), or a Safe Person (who understands, listens, accepts). The unsafe are either an Unsafe person (who presumes, dismisses, neglects) or a Bully (who blames, shames, punishes).* As you look at the people you reach out to when times are hard, ask yourself if they fall into the first two or the latter two.
Life is hard trying to parent kids alone. And yes, it does fall to you to make the tough choices, the rules, and provide the love and support they need. But finding safe people to turn to when the struggle gets overwhelming can help you keep being the best parent you can be. You can do this. God promises to walk with you and he encourages us to live in healthy community to help us along the way. Finding your safe people can make all the difference in the world.
What is one time you had a friend come alongside you for support at just the right moment? I’d love to be encouraged by your comments
(* from Overwhelmed, page 194.)