May 2, 2018

Eighteen Years Alone?

Being a single parent can save your soul.

Janelle Phillip

I am loved by God. Over the last 18 years people have regularly told me that I am doing a fantastic job raising my daughter. For a long time I would awkwardly smile and reply with the generic “God is good,” because I did not believe that I had done anything worthy of praise.

Like most parents, I stumbled through these years hoping that the few things I did right would outweigh all my errors. The parenting books are nice suggestions, but no one has a foolproof way of raising a child who turns out to be a decent human being. And for many single parents, those books might as well have been written in a foreign language.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was petrified. Like most people who have any dirt in their lives, you hope it stays hidden. I was afraid of what this pregnancy would mean for my life and my family. I was a sophomore in college, and my Trinidadian family was extremely active in our church. The questions of how I would finish school and what people would say were yelling loudly in my ear.

But God knew this child would save my life, and He ensured that my network of support was top tier. My family helped me with everything I needed to finish school. I worked, went to school full-time, and with help from my family and friends raised my daughter until I completed both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. God used my dirt as compost to bloom the most beautiful flower.

My daughter’s father was never very present in her life and has remained distant for years. While this still hurts, I am thankful for my earthly father, “Grandpa,” who has a matchless bond with my daughter.

This road has not been smooth. I have cried buckets of tears, passed many sleepless nights, and fought financial struggles. The monumental task of being the primary and sole caretaker often left me feeling vulnerable and fragile. But God carried me when I was too weak to walk. He spoke sweetly and lovingly to me when I felt like the worst mother on earth. He encouraged me and pushed me when I was too tired to keep going. His unwavering love pulled me into Him and never let me go.

Through the consistent support of my family, friends, and church, my daughter matriculated through 12 years of Christian education and earned a full ride to college. Best of all, she loves God and knows that He loves her.

Being a single parent is full of challenges . . . But God! So now when I say “God is good!” it is no longer a generic phrase, but a heartfelt praise. I live in His goodness. He has shown me love in its purest form by caring for my daughter and me in such a specific and special way.

I am loved by God.

Social worker Janelle Phillip is the loving single-mother of one awesome, talented and intelligent teenage daughter, Nia. Above all else, she loves the Lord.