Seek God, all you quietly disciplined people who live by God’s justice. Seek God’s right ways. Seek a quiet and disciplined life. (Zephaniah 2:3 MSG)
by Robert Beeston, author of Going Solo
When you’re a solo parent, you can feel as if you’re living in a foreign country. It’s disorienting, unfamiliar. It’s not hostile, but it definitely feels uncomfortable, as if you are an outsider. If you are to survive in a strange land, you must acclimate to new ways and customs.
As sinful people, we all have bad habits. It’s just a matter of how many. I decided to focus on developing a few simple and new healthy habits that could help me reconnect to life and hopefully counteract the feeling of being so out of place and overwhelmed.
The first habit I adopted and put into action was revolutionary. MIT scientists have studied and proven its value to mankind as one of the most foundational forces in the universe. Are you ready for this first revelation?
Habit #1: Make Your Bed
In his University of Texas at Austin’s 2014 commencement speech, Naval Admiral William McRaven shared his ten life lessons from Navy SEAL training with the very first point being, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
Let’s be honest—it is easy to not make our bed, to just get on with our day as soon as we wake up. Or get lost in the sheets and hide from the demands until the very last moment until everything becomes a hectic rush.
When I took a few minutes to make my bed, I was less tempted to crawl back in it. This made my room feel more like a sanctuary with more order and less chaos. Going to bed then felt more rewarding to turn back the covers to see the neatly tucked sheets. You know the feeling of peeling back tight linens and crawling in, as opposed to trying to find where one sheet starts and another ends from the wadded mess? This simple activity started my day off right by completing a “project” first thing in the morning.
Habit #2: Start a Project You Can Complete
We could call this one the “hobby habit.” The simple goal and concept here is to just start something you know you can complete. Working out is a great choice for your physical health and stress relief. Gardening or planting flowers can be relaxing and rewarding. My hobby was and is still cooking.
I could find a new recipe, gather all the ingredients, try it out, and serve the dish for dinner—killing two birds with one stone, as they say. Within an hour, I could begin a new, fun challenge and complete it all before evening family time.
When our world is consumed with so many loose ends and never-ending processes, when we’re juggling so many details of life, it helps us to have something fun we can complete. I had never cooked as much as I did during my solo season. Playing chef gave me something to enjoy and a skill I could grow and develop. During that time, I studied recipes and constantly tried new ones. I watched cooking shows in any free time and then tried to duplicate what I saw—and sometimes I even attempted to improve the recipes. I experimented a lot—some recipes worked and some didn’t—but most importantly, I accomplished my goal. Fortunately, my girls were always up for trying new dishes.
A new activity or hobby can give you fresh focus, create satisfaction from a new accomplishment, offer productive free time, keep you out of trouble, keep you from falling back on old, unhealthy patterns, accomplish a secondary goal such as fixing dinner or getting in shape, become an avenue for meeting new friends, and defeat fear by trying new things.
Habit #3: Create a Daily Touchpoint
Reach out to at least one person every day. Don’t wait on people to contact you. The Samson Society leaders encouraged each one of us to find a “Silas”—someone to check in with daily and “share the path with.” My friend, Nate, who invited me to the meetings, became that person for me. I could call him anytime of the day or night for any reason.
Having a daily touchpoint helps keep us from drifting into dangerous isolation. My mom also provided me with daily interaction. We talked every day. I never felt as if I needed a reason to call or something specific to discuss.
This habit creates a physical reminder that we are not alone in this critical season. We are not meant to do life in isolation, so we must teach ourselves to not wait for others to reach out to us; we must reach out to them. For me, reaching out meant calling my mom each day as I drove home. Our conversations lasted anywhere from two minutes to more than an hour depending on what I was facing.
Habit #4: Live Gratefully
The habit of gratitude builds a unique strength in us. I once heard someone say that gratitude is gravity. In other words, gratitude is the force that attracts us toward something. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that thankfulness is a natural force that automatically affects us—at least it’s not natural for me. But I do believe, especially in this solo season, we should do everything in our power to let gratitude keep us grounded. While this doesn’t come naturally to us all the time, when life seems overwhelming, let the mind-set of thankfulness pull you back to a healthy place.
Let’s face it. No one owes us anything, so we should be grateful for anything anyone does to acknowledge who we are, what we do, or what we might need. This worldview creates humility. We cannot entertain entitlement in any season of life, but most especially in the solo season. No matter how we got where we are, or what we face, we must train ourselves to search for things that we are grateful for, no matter how small.
Habit #5: Engage in Prayer and Meditation
Whether I felt like it or not, and often I didn’t, I learned to set aside dedicated time to quiet my mind and be still. This became one of the most important facets of my new normal.
Now depending on your spiritual or denominational paradigm, you may have come to believe meditation is a non-Christian activity, but, in reality, God created this first. As is so often the case, the enemy has robbed us and reidentified a Christian paradigm as his own. Meditation is simply a focused discipline to usher you out and usher God’s presence in. This state of mind then opens us up to intimate prayer with the Father.
Sara Lazar, a Harvard neuroscientist, found that meditation creates important physical changes in your mind by increasing brain density in areas responsible for self-control, focus, problem solving, flexibility, and resilience. Best of all, these changes become permanent.
I knew this had to become a habit for me because there were days prayer and meditation didn’t feel important or I thought I didn’t need it as much, which meant I could at some point easily stop altogether. But each day I committed to this discipline, I felt centered, present, and stress wasn’t so great an issue. I had to push pause on life just long enough to take some deep, cleansing breaths, quiet my mind, and remind myself that God would meet me there in the space I cleared away only for Him.
When we set aside time for God, He can embrace, recharge, strengthen, and restore a sound mind within us. I learned that the Christian life is not just about victory and overcoming, but surrender and letting God provide and protect. I find I more easily trust God and His ways when I quiet my mind and listen to Him.
These habits might sound simple and perhaps a bit mundane to you. Or maybe you are thinking, I don’t need one more thing on my plate.
But here’s the point of cultivating these habits: When you do, your commitment to your personal growth sets a valuable tone for your overall outlook on a new life. I encourage you to seek out not only these, but also your new own habits to counteract the constant feeling of chaos as you are solo.
Going Solo by Robert Beeston
As parents face the difficult reality of a broken home, a sense of being completely overwhelmed can shut down the perspective they need to find restoration. Parents need to know that they can choose to define this season of their lives, instead of becoming defined by circumstances. They can deliberately look toward God and come to a deeper understanding of His true nature, power, and intimate care.
As this former Christian music industry executive shares his story of divorce, his seven years as a single father, and his transition to a second marriage and a blended family, he also offers readers some hard-learned lessons and insights on being an effective, empathetic, and empowered single parent, answering crucial questions such as:
- How do I find peace when everything around me is chaos?
- How do I manage meeting needs when I have nothing to give?
- How and where do I begin again?
The author addresses the fears and exhaustion of single parenting, while revealing the keys to gaining strength and courage for each day. He also shares how he found his “solo” relationship with his heavenly Father through his “solo” parenting season. Readers will learn five helpful habits and practical healing principles they can immediately apply in this season of life.