Nicole shares her story about finding a support group for single moms.
At age four, I told all the kids in the neighborhood that my name was Dorothy. This fascination with Dorothy started the first time I saw those glimmering ruby red slippers while watching Wizard of Oz. I was mesmerized into believing that if I could be like Dorothy, then I’d have the power to change my circumstances. Only, I realized much later, it’s not about the shoes. As Proverbs 16:9 states, “A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps.”
One thing is certain. It doesn’t matter how you became a single mom, you are not in Kansas anymore. When the tornado of divorce ripped apart my marriage, I landed in an unfamiliar and lonely territory. Here’s a black-and-white snapshot of how I got from Kansas to Oz and then on the yellow brick road home toward God’s plan.
Sadly, I never knew my parents as a couple. Their marriage was already disintegrating by the time I was born. My parents divorced when I was an infant. My mom struggled financially to raise me as a single mother on her various waitress jobs, so my grandparents stepped in since Mom functioned more like an older sister, dumping me off at their house on the weekends to go out drinking, dancing, and partying. However, my grandparents were not a safe place. At their house I experienced their violent fights and my grandmother’s alcoholism. My childhood was marked by hiding in the backyard.
Every other weekend I went to my Dad’s house. He remarried and my stepmom Debi, fill the “mom void.” She taught me manners and grooming skills, continually prayed for me, and took me to Sunday school. Sadly, she battled ovarian cancer for over 10 years, passing away when I was twenty-nine years old. To this day, Debi is one of the most influential Christians in my life and her legacy lives on in the woman I am today.
Meanwhile, alcoholism escalated on my mom’s side of the family, including drunken rages and fist fights among family members at every holiday gathering. Life with my mom was chaotic since she had a string of boyfriends. When I was twelve years old, my mom got sober for a short period and married a fellow AA member. However, things quickly unraveled within the first year. They both lost their jobs, the car was repossessed, and they depleted all of the money in my college savings account. I fell into a depression, and threw myself into school, a place that gave me a sense of routine. One week before I graduated high school, my stepfather kicked us out after discovering my mom was having an affair. My mom took off, and I moved in with my recently widowed grandmother. I quickly realized I’d have to find a way to put myself through college.
Fullerton College brought exciting new experiences, people, and a boyfriend. In the beginning, he idolized me, and I clung to him for attention and stability. Throughout college, I desperately clung to him out of fear of being abandoned. When I transferred to CSUF, God planted Christians all around me, and I attribute this to my stepmom’s prayers. During the spring semester, a co-worker invited me to attend a church service at Eastside Christian Church where I accepted Christ. However, I was too scared to face how God might expect me to change, so I didn’t go back.
Almost immediately after I took that step of faith, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart to stop chasing after my boyfriend and just “live my life.” But I was too scared to let go of him even though I felt very alone in the relationship because it was mostly sexual. Four months later, in the middle of grad school, I found myself pregnant at twenty-four years old. When I was five months pregnant, we decided to get married. Three days after I graduated with my master’s in English, my baby girl was born. Unfortunately, I spiraled into an awful postpartum depression and even questioned God’s existence. My husband was a good provider, but he worked long hours in L.A., so I fought with him for little crumbs of attention. Meanwhile, he threw himself into his work and went away more often on business trips.
I couldn’t take the loneliness, so I started looking back into my faith, but he was not interested in doing the same. On Mother’s Day, I confronted him and he admitted to having an affair. Our little girl wasn’t even two and my whole world was crashing down around me. Alone in my bedroom, I surrendered my life to Christ and felt an angel’s wings embrace me. Yet, I blamed myself for my husband’s affair and went on a desperate path to be a godly wife, to pray, and to win him over. Unbeknownst to me, he kept seeing his girlfriend on the side.
Looking for support I found myself attending Eastside’s Care & Recovery group. Within months of attending, I began healing from my childhood, gained enough confidence to apply for a new job, and started hanging out with godly friends instead of isolating at home with my daughter in front of the TV.
One day, while reading my Bible, God led me to First Corinthians 7:13-15, which states, “If a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him . . . But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so.” My husband was unhappy about my becoming Christian, said he would not change, continued with the affair, and he finally decided to leave.
Within months of my marriage ending, God spoke to my heart that this was my season to be single, and to focus on raising my daughter. It took some time to accept God’s plan, but I can honestly say I’ve learned to be content as a single mom for over ten years now, with Jesus by my side! In fact, He paved the way for my daughter and me to live in a cozy home, and the dream of home ownership came true.
Finding so much hope from my support group, I decided to start leading a group at Eastside to encourage other single moms. I wanted to share hope and share my story. God had picked me up out of the cyclone of my misery and settled me on a new foundation so I could have a completely different life—a life grounded in Him, where I found my way home, reminding single moms that God will never let you down! We may be let down by others, and perhaps even abandoned, but, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-25. Trust me, red ruby slippers are nothing in comparison to God’s power at work within you.
Leading this small group has blessed me so much. There have been so many stories that have come across my path during the time that I’ve been the leader. I could go on and on, but it’s been really great to be able to give back now that my daughter’s grown. We focus on the positive aspect of being single and how even challenging seasons are what prepare us for a better future. This group also provides an opportunity for us to stay connected throughout the week through text messages, sharing prayer requests, and going to service together. I never want to see a single mom not come to church because she sees other families there and feels alone. I want her to know that she’s not alone, and there is a group ready to support her.
If you were inspired by this story we would love to tell you more about Eastside. We have a relentless love and commitment for all to know God. We are committed to finding unique ways to serve our local communities & help our global neighbors. We are passionate about finding solutions, building bridges, and bringing the love and hope of Jesus to hurting communities. We strive to inspire people to collectively influence transformational life change. We would love to invite you to join us in person or online. At Eastside we believe that this is a place for everyone, wherever you are on your journey. If you would like to find out more about Eastside please visit eastside.com. Are you going through a divorce, separated or struggling with a relationship? Don’t have to navigate this season alone. We’d love to invite you to join this caring community of people who will walk beside you on your journey to find hope and healing. Please visit eastside.com/care for more information about our care and recovery groups.