Here's a story about how to get a Christian family...
It goes something like this...
Christian meets someone equally passionate about their faith (probably in early 20s); fall in love get married; buy house and have agreed number of wonderful children who they'll raise together to love Jesus and build the kingdom.
I've seen a lot of Christian couples living out this story in their own awesome way, and although every story has its ups and downs - many Christians have a main narrative that goes along these lines.
For me in my early 20s that was definitely a story I was subconsciously living out - I got married; bought a house; followed God's call to adopt two children...
Queue the plot twist...
I ended up divorced and a single parent.
I was left wondering where the story was going.
I couldn't see a blue print for how to move forward.
At the time I didn't know any single parents who were trying to follow Jesus so I didn't have anyone role modelling to me how to pick up the pieces and move forward.
I felt ashamed and disappointed with my messy story.
I wonder if you are in this boat in your own way - looking at the above story and then looking at your own life and wondering why the two don't match up...
Maybe you've never been married and wonder if you'll ever get started on Chapter 1.
Perhaps, like me, you're already on Chapter 8 or 9 and as you look back at your family set up it look's pretty messy, not like the nice, straightforward story above.
Or perhaps adversely you're still aiming for that straightforward story but are missing the opportunities that might come by engaging with something unconventional or a bit 'messy'?
Something that I feel like God has been saying to me over the last few years is that we need to throw out some of our preconceptions about 'nuclear' family and how it comes about.
Firstly - the above story is one that is basically constructed by Western modern day Christians and not many people from the Bible had this kind of straightforward nuclear family.
Many characters lost spouses through bereavement or never got married at all, many characters remarried or had more complex family set ups. Many characters had 'family' which consisted of people they were not biologically related to and parented children they hadn't given birth to.
Basically the stories looked pretty messy.
And many of the families looked pretty messy.
However, what we find about messy stories, in the Bible and today, is that God is always at work redeeming them and using them to display his glory and grace.
Becoming a single parent has taught me things about strength and love that I wouldn't have learned any other way.
And the coolest thing about an unconventional story is...
you never know when there's going to be another big plot twist!
The freedom you have in being single might mean God has an amazing ministry for you to lead.
You might meet someone you didn't expect to come and be part of your crazy story.
This is the God who took Joseph from a prison cell to the King's advisor, who took David from watching sheep to ruling Israel...
He's certainly going to take your joy, disappointments, achievements, experiences, hopes and dreams and write an amazing next chapter...
So don't waste time wishing for a nice tidy story you don't have - be grateful for your story, whether it's messy, unpredictable or unresolved, and be excited for what God will do in the next chapter...