As a dad, I’ve never known anything other than being a single father. My daughter’s mom and I were never married and once she got pregnant, things went south very quickly. Over nine years later not much has changed. Sure we have our seasons of peace, but they are few and far between.
When she and I first met, I was not the man I am today. I was fresh off a decade-long run of hardcore drug and alcohol addiction. Having been raised in a home without a full-time dad myself, I found myself scraping and searching for answers to this new role of “fatherhood” that I had just entered into. As if that was not enough, there were multiple battles: legally in a courtroom, and verbally everywhere else. I had lost all sense of identity of who God had created me to be.
Through a series of events that began years earlier, I surrendered my life to Jesus when my daughter was about 8 months old. I was baptized a few months later and began the single father ministry the following year. Life had made a tremendous U-turn for me! When my daughter was almost two years old God gave me the courage and humility to talk on the subject of forgiveness with my daughter’s mom. I told her I forgave her for all the wrongs she had committed against me and I asked for her forgiveness too. It was NOT well received!
Which brings me to today. Having been a follower of Christ for almost 9 years now, I still see some of the consequences of my actions from years ago being played out, but I also have been given a foundation to stand on that cannot be shaken. 1Peter 4:8 tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins.” If you do a word study on the word “love” in that passage, you will find that it can refer to acts such as “good will”, “benevolence”, or “brotherly love”. To show this sort of love to the other parent helps protect us from a “multitude of sins” in our own lives such as anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
I don’t know where you are with this today, but if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, our job is not to “keep score” against the other parent (we surely don’t want God doing that with us!). Instead, we should allow Him to help us die to self so that we can pour it into others. They may not deserve it, but neither do we. Yet, the Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (NASB) When we give Him total access to reign in our hearts and lives, the greater the fruit we will see revealed. I’m speaking from experience here and I know you can too. And believe me, even though many of the trials and frustrations may still linger, the overwhelming joy and peace that comes through our faith shatters these temporary struggles and allows us to be the parents and Christians we were always created to be.
We love, because He first loved us. -1John 4:19 (NASB)
Matt Haviland is the founder of “A Father’s Walk” single dad ministry. For more information on the ministry and how to form a single dad small group in your own church, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.