I grew up in a single parent household. Despite a lot of affluence through things my parents gave to me, the lack of a full time father-figure and Christian foundation set the stage for the decisions I would make in the years to come. Beginning when I was 15 years old and lasting the next decade and a half, I engaged in a horrendous run of drug and alcohol addiction, sexual immorality, and self-destruction. During that time period I was arrested, overdosed twice, nearly killed in a car accident, and had a child out of wedlock.
Through the invitation of a coworker, I began to attend church early in 2001. Three weeks later, I responded to an altar call, prayed a prayer, and went home to tell everyone I had just gotten “saved”.
But what did that mean?
Surely I had just been introduced to the only saving grace I needed that could rescue me from my chaotic lifestyle and set me on a firm foundation─ but which way was I to go?
The church never really followed up. No one ever scooped me up to mentor me.
It was only a matter of time before I fell back into my old ways…
The next six years that followed were really more like a roller coaster with God.
I was good.
I was bad.
I had periods I pursued Him and stayed clean and sober; and there were times that I made some of my worst choices ever.
I finally came to the end of myself after my daughter was born in 2006. Her mother and I were not on good terms and despite my upbringing, I knew I had been created to be better than what I had become.
I wanted to be a great dad.
Early in 2007 a friend of mine invited me to attend his church, to which I accepted. As the pastor spoke my heart and began to burn with a passion and excitement like I had never experienced before. By the end of the service, I was making a beeline for the altar, and this time I knew what I was doing!
As parents, our top priorities should be securing our own relationship with the Lord first, and then pouring into our families.
For us single parents that may seem even more out of our grasp as we are constantly bogged down by juggling twice the responsibilities with half the help. It may be all we can do just to get the kids down for the night before we can get caught up with daily chores and then maybe even a little down time of our own. We may have really good intentions of spending time with God, but as it often goes, He usually gets pushed way to the back of a never-ceasing “to do” list. Before we know it, another week is in the books and outside of an hour or so at church, our walk with Him is all but nil.
I often tell people that I may have gotten saved in 2001, but I fully surrendered to Jesus that morning in 2007.
I was baptized a few months later and here I am today.
Single parents, I know things may seem far from ideal right now, but look at the Cross.
From the disciples’ point of view everything they had trusted and believed in, their whole world, had just died- literally. But the worst moment in history had to happen first so the greatest moment ever could take place.
Sometimes one thing has to die first so something greater can be born. If in fact you find yourself distant from a personal relationship with Jesus, today may be the day to begin that journey and lay it all down at His feet; because in God’s economy, surrender equals victory.
And they said to one another,
“Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road,
and while He opened the Scriptures to us?
Luke 24:32 (NKJV)
When was the last time your heart was on fire for Christ?
By Matt Haviland
Dad of one daughter
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of “A Father’s Walk”
Author of A Father’s Walk: A Christian-Based Resource for Single Fathers
and co-author of The Daddy Gap