After a tough day at work, a heated argument with my preteen daughter and a bad macaroni-and-cheese incident, I wanted nothing more than to order a pizza and put on my fuzzy polar bear slippers.

Why go through all the trouble to put on shoes and head back out to church? I thought to myself. It’s Wednesday, I already go on the weekend, gas is expensive and, hey, is that a snowflake? Better stay in.

Nevertheless, I chose to follow through with my original plan to attend my church’s weekly single-parent Bible study. I did continue the argument with myself as I walked into the garage and settled my girl into the back seat . . . as I climbed into the car . . . as I backed out of the driveway.

The choice turned out well. It often did. Rarely did I walk away from the Bible study wishing I’d stayed home in my polar bear slippers. Yet nearly every Wednesday, I waged a battle with myself. Different circumstances, same arguments. Stay home. This isn’t worth it. Just watch TV and call it a night.

So why keep pushing? Why go through the struggle week in and week out? The reasons were posted on my refrigerator so I wouldn’t forget:

You need people

Yes, Elsa. You need people. You are not the female Lone Ranger –although even he had Tonto. You need to know others are going through the same thing. You need friendship. You need a hug. You need to learn from their wisdom. Others have walked where you are walking. Ask them questions and learn from their experiences. Go on – take off your slippers, and put on your shoes.

People need you

You tend to forget this, but you can still make a difference in the lives of others. You think that because you’ve been hurt and broken, you won’t be of much use. But there’s always someone who’s walking where you have already walked. She needs you to remind her there’s hope. Go on – take off your slippers, put on your shoes. Get going.

Your daughter needs this

Your daughter needs other kids. She needs to build friendships. This is more important than the latest and greatest TV show. You both need healthy relationships. They’re the real stuff of life, and you want her to know how to build them. Show her what it means to live in community. I know you’re tired, but this is worth it. Go on, girl.

No excuses

These were the words across the top of the list. I needed the reminder. The single-parent journey was one I couldn’t do alone – not with any real success. But I had to push myself to keep my Wednesday night routine.

I also needed to be creative in making friends through the rest of the week. Saturdays were often lost to housecleaning and errands. To keep myself from getting too wrapped up in responsibilities, I set aside every other Saturday as a play day. Sometimes that meant connecting with another single parent and letting our kids play together while we chatted, drank coffee and munched bagels. On a beautiful day, we’d meet a friend at the park. Somehow, wedging my oversized adult body into a kid-sized swing was the perfect remedy for a tough world that often felt like a forced fit.

Sure, laundry sometimes stacked up and the apartment kept its cluttered appeal for yet another week. But looking back, my daughter remembers the times at the park and the laughter of friends. The friendships we developed as a single-parent family remain some of our closest.

Playing, living, laughing – doing life together with friends and fellow believers makes every step of the single-parent journey easier. So it’s time. Take off your slippers, and put on your shoes. Go on, friends are waiting.

Elsa Kok Colopy is the former editor of Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family magazine. She now writes and speaks full time, leading retreats, seminars and workshops. Elsa pens the companion blog, Pure Love, Pure Life. She also pens a second blog, God Has Dimples.

© 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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