It was a simple challenge on a friend’s page:
“Single mothers, call your children’s father and share with them one thing you appreciate about him as a father.”
I chuckled, sensing this wasn’t going to end well.
I knew my friend had good intentions. Being a single dad of three boys himself, he simply wanted to spark a healthy conversation to try to boost the image of fathers.
The responses however were not good.
“Sorry can’t think of one single thing. Lol”
“Hmmmmm still thinking…”
I understood all too well why so many women were unable to complete the challenge.
Although my daughter’s dad plays an active role in her life, there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I was going to pick up the phone that night (or any night in the near future) to call him to share one thing I appreciated about him as a father.
I spent the last three years in and out of the family court system because of this man. And even though that chapter is finally over, we rarely speak to each other today. Plus honestly, he probably wouldn’t even pick up my call.
So I shrugged off the challenge and kept scrolling through my timeline in search of the next attention grabbing post.
As the night went on, I kept thinking about the challenge.
I started wrestling with the small, quiet voice within me. You know, the voice that speaks no matter how hard you try to silence it.
I kept replaying my list of reasons why my daughter’s dad did not deserve a phone call. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that he’s a bad dad, or that I hate him – he’s just not on my list of my favorite people.
I ignored the emotional tug of war that was happening in my head and went to bed.
Days later, I found myself still thinking about the challenge.
Could it be, that there was more to this challenge that I wanted to admit?
Could it be, the reason why I found myself struggling like so many other women was because of my heart?
The more I thought about it, the more a familiar scripture came to mind:
“…For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)
Needless to say, having to co-parent after a painful breakup or having to parent alone can leave your heart battered and bruised in ways that you wouldn’t even think were possible.
Everyone around will tell you to put your feelings to the side; that you should be the bigger person and do what needs to be done for the sake of your child.
And while it is important to separate your emotions from your parenting decisions, pretending you are over the pain, anger, disappointment, rejection or whatever else you may be feeling won’t do you any good either. Because sooner or later, those emotions will come spewing out, and the target may be the person you least intend for it to be.
Seeing this challenge forced me to admit that there was still some lingering resentment in my heart towards my ex.
It reminded me of how easily unforgiveness can turn into bitterness when left untreated; how it keeps you emotionally connected to someone or something that is not deserving of your focus or thoughts.
Truth is, a lot of people- not just single mothers, are walking around right now carrying a lot of extra baggage in their hearts.
Just listen to their conversations and you’ll be able to know what’s in their hearts – whether its hurt, anger, fear, resentment, trust issues, insecurities – you name it. …”For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
It took me a while but I knew I had to do the challenge, so I did it…
Well, sort of.
I knew he would be hesitant to pick up my call, so I texted him instead. The coversation was brief and somewhat awkward, yet it brought an unexpected sense of release to my heart.
I’m sure I may need a few (or a lot) more reminders, but this challenge was a much needed demonstration that the choice to forgive is a choice that will contiue to free me from the pain of my past.
UPDATE: You’d never guess what happened after I completed the Facebook Challenge.