7 Ways a Single Mom Can Fight Discouragement

Originally published Wednesday, 13 March 2024.

Mommas, I know there are some of you out there – many of you – who are facing an immense amount of discouragement. The weight of it sits squarely on your chest, sometimes making it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, this single parenting journey can seem like an impossible task, wrought with difficulty, obstacles, hardships, and criticism. Just when you seem you are getting a little bit ahead, another mountain presents itself for climbing. You run hard, putting out many fires along the way. You are often juggling several balls in the air, and inevitably, drop one – leaving guilt, and too often, discouragement. I know how difficult it can be. I know because I have been there too, more times than I can count. I’ve often felt that I’ve done all I could and it simply wasn’t good enough.  I know the feelings of “Why try? I’m failing anyway.” I know well the feelings of inadequacy, comparison, and exhaustion. Mommas, there is freedom for you. You do not have to live in constant discouragement that it’s too hard or that you’re not doing enough or that you’ll never get it right.  

Here are a few things that have helped me along the way, when I’ve felt pressed from every angle with discouragement: 

Stop comparing yourself to others. Galatians 6:4 says, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Comparison is a trap we can so easily fall prey to. The more you look at what others’ have and what their circumstances are, the more you will feel discontentment and discouragement in your life. We look at others’ skills, talents, gifts, and accomplishments. We focus on their “today”, often not considering what their “yesterday” may have looked like. Your circumstances will never be the exact same as someone else’s. Comparison will only leave you feeling frustrated and empty. You will never feel content in the season you are in, if you are secretly coveting the season someone else is in. As soon as you stop comparing, you will be able to flourish with what God has given you.  And yes, He has given you much, blessed you plenty, and offered much hope! He is the God of more than enough. He will do exceedingly, abundantly more. Blessings are in plentiful supply, so we don’t have to covet someone else’s.  

Stop agreeing with the lies. I know, I know. It is far easier for us to believe some of the lies the enemy tells us or that the world tells us or that we tell ourselves than it is to believe the truth of what God says about us. The lies are many: It’s never going to get any better than it is in this moment. I’m not a good enough mom, daughter, employee, friend, etc. I’ll never have more than I have right now. No good man would ever want me. I’ll always struggle with this. The only way to battle lies is with the truth, and the truth is God’s word. The beautiful thing about the truth of God’s word is that it is not based on how you feel or even your circumstance. Your truth is based on who God says you are.  Take the time to write down every lie that you have believed about yourself from the enemy, negative self-talk, or words spoken over you. Then, find the Scripture that dispels the life. God calls you his beloved, chosen, daughter.

Stop speaking “death” over your situation. Your words matter. You cannot wallow in death and expect life to birth from it. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life…” Everything you speak must be in alignment with the word of God. This is very, very, very important. Some of us are planting words of death in our backyards. We water it, fertilize it. We nurse it to health. And then, we expect to grow life. Speak encouragement, hope, love. Stand firm on the word of God and decree and declare it over your life and that of your children, despite what you see and despite how you feel. Get good at speaking to your future and not your past. Get good and declaring the things of God over you and your children – even if it feels unnatural at first. Sadly, we’ve practiced speaking words of death over our lives for far too long and we’re often comfortable doing it. Get good at speaking life. Get the Bible out and read it aloud. Hear yourself declaring the goodness of God, the promises of God, and the stories of God’s faithfulness until it becomes habit. 

Remember that God is faithful. If you are facing discouragement right now, please know that God is faithful. Whether you face parenting & financial challenges or recovery from abuse and trauma, our God is faithful. The same God that has rescued you and answered your prayers in the past tough situations is available today. He is working on your behalf. His timing is perfect, and He is faithful in every season. In a moment, He can restore joy and hope in a way that only He could. Encourage yourself by meditating on the faithfulness of God in prior hard seasons. Allow your faith to rise. Encourage yourself with lists of His provision. Did He bring friends to you during a lonely season? Did He bring meals when you were hungry? Did He rain manna from Heaven when there was no money in the checking account? Did He restore your health? Did He set you free from the bondage of addiction, depression, or suicide? Did He bring you a great church family? Our God is faithful. It only takes moments of looking around to see His handywork all around. 

Praise despite your circumstances. Praise shifts the atmosphere. I know mommas. When you are discouraged, the last thing you want to do is go into a church and participate in praise and worship. You likely don’t want to have praise and worship in your home. It can seem futile, or like too great of an effort amid your struggles. How can I raise my hands when my heart is so heavy? How can I praise when the mountain seems so great? Remember, it is in your weakest moments that the enemy pushes you the most. The enemy delights in pushing you away from the church, away from the things of God, away from praising and reading the Word. In the spirit realm, praise begins to shift the atmosphere and discouragement cannot stand. It is imperative that you begin to open your mouths and praise God for His faithfulness in past seasons, and it is even more important to praise Him in advance for what He will do in this next season. Your praise matters. It allows you to fight discouragement well.

Seek God’s plan for your life. Sometimes, our discouragement is rooted in trying to do our own thing without regard to the plan the Lord has for us. We are going to “make it happen” one way or another. This is dangerous. Some of us know how dangerous it is, because we’ve tried to manipulate and control our way into the life we want, rather than following the Lord. When we attempt to control it, it means we can step into new seasons too soon. Perhaps it means we move too quickly or pursue a new relationship too soon or make a move on the new house without asking the Holy Spirit for guidance. When we pause and seek godly wise counsel and likewise seek the Lord in prayer for the Holy Spirit to guide, we move into seasons that have God’s hand of blessings upon them. When we do it ourselves, it can often feel like we’re toiling through quicksand. The more we lean into the plans He has for us, the more we walk in encouragement and hope and optimism. Make choices that honor His plan for your life.  

Shift the way you pray. If we get honest, most of us pray with a list of to-do’s for God. Lord, I need this. Lord if you could just help with that… And of course, this is important. Jesus modeled asking our Heavenly Father for our “daily bread” and “forgiveness” and “deliverance from evil”, so yes, we make requests. But our prayers must also glorify and honor. “You are worthy of all praise, Lord. Thank you for salvation, for freedom, for provision, for redemption. Thank you for my health and my church and friends. Thank you for protection and conviction and wisdom.” Our prayers need to be filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for all the blessings we have, the answered prayers we’ve received, and the gift of eternal life in Christ. I’m reminded of Philippians 4:6-7 that says, “ Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  This is our recipe for peace. Don’t worry. Pray about it. Tell the Lord your needs. Thank Him for all his provision.

Single mommas, you are daughters of the most high King. You are royalty, bought with a high price, joint heirs with Christ Jesus. You are bought and paid for by the blood of the Lamb. You are righteous by that blood. Your portion to walk in freedom and encouragement and wholeness and joy. Your portion is to walk in the love of Christ that covers a multitude of sins. If you are praying and seeking the Lord, you are a good mom.   

Jennifer Maggio is a mom to three, wife to Jeff, and founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is author to four books, including The Church and the Single Mom. She was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in America by Dr. John Maxwell in 2017 and 2015 and has appeared in hundreds of media venues, including The New York Times, Family Talk Radio with Dr. James Dobson, Joni and Friends, and many others.