I’m so happy to introduce you to Holly Barrett! Holly says:
The only thing that has brought me to contentment in my circumstances is to recognize that being single is way better than being in the wrong marriage. And to accept that if I’m not content in my life as it is, changing the circumstances isn’t going to make it better.
I am so happy to have Holly here today. Holly lives in the mountains of North Carolina. She is a 52-year-old mother, and a domestic abuse survivor. I know her interview is going to bring much encouragement and wisdom to all of you!
Brenda: First, tell us a little about yourself – your name, age, where you live, and where you grew up.
Holly: Holly Barrett, 52, live in Spruce Pine in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. I’m a NC native and love it!
Brenda: Where do you work, and how did you get started in your job?
Holly: I am an ordained minister and currently work with young adults in a program for college-age students who have experienced foster care or group home living. This is a program of The Crossnore School, a 100-year old home for children in need.
Brenda: Do you feel like your job is God’s calling on your life or do you hope it leads to something else one day?
Holly: Ministry is definitely my calling! I love the opportunity to connect people to Jesus and to the local church. There have been many blessings to my current ministry but I do hope to return to church ministry one day.
Brenda: Tell us one thing you LOVE about being single and one thing you hate (or your biggest struggle) about being single.
Holly: I love this question! As I’ve been single-again for 20 years, I’ve gotten quite used to being alone. I don’t mind living alone and often wonder if I could live with another person again! My biggest struggle about being single though is feeling like I don’t have a “person”…you know that one go-to person who has committed to always be there for you. Holidays and family emergencies always strike me as the worst too! Seems like everybody has someone during those times, and I’m the odd woman out. But I’ve learned to deal with it. My adult son is still single so I just hang with him!
Brenda: Our perception of you is that you are living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman. You’re not waiting around for marriage, but fulfilling God’s call on your life now. What would you say is your secret to doing this?
Holly: Staying in touch with God. Looking at the opportunities He places in front of me on a daily basis to be involved in kingdom work. That focus has helped me to see marriage as a blessing, not as a requirement for life. God can and will use us regardless of our marital status or lack thereof. It’s not always easy to see it, but I know that God has used me in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to respond if I had a spouse.
Brenda: What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now and not wait for marriage to start their lives?
Holly: Just start! While we don’t have to wait for marriage to start our lives, we don’t have to wait for other “big” events either. We can live the life we are in today with purpose, whether we are in college, or working, or dating, or single-again, or not. Living purposefully doesn’t happen because we have arrived at some location or attained some goal. Living purposefully helps us to get to those places in a way that honors God and fulfills our calling.
Brenda: How many children do you have and what are their ages?
Holly: I have 2 children. Neil is 29 and Rachel is soon to be 27. I count Rachel’s husband, Daniel as a son too and he is also 29.
Brenda: Is divorce also a part of your story along with being a single mom?
Holly: Yes, I am a survivor of domestic violence and became a single mom when Neil was 7 and Rachel was 5.
Brenda: What did your community and support system look like? Did you have a team of people to help you – mentors, counselors, church family, and personal family?
Holly: I could have never raised two kids without a huge network of support. When we left our difficult situation, we returned to my hometown and my home church. We were blessed with a group of family and friends who were willing to invest in us, emotionally, physically and sometimes even financially. What I had to learn to do was ask for help. I became the queen of scholarships, asking for any help my kids needed to be able to experience the normal things of childhood like sports and other extracurricular activities. Countless people became willing to host my kids for a weekend so I could have a break, or pick one kid up at a ball field while I went in the other direction to retrieve the other one. Their love and prayers were invaluable. Their willingness to show up was priceless!
Brenda: How important, would you say, was community and support for single moms? How did single moms go about finding community?
Holly: I was blessed in community in two ways. One was that a group of single moms kinda landed at my church within a year or so of each other. We banded together and helped one another out. We used to do Sunday potluck lunches together since none of us could afford to go to a restaurant. It was awesome! I also was able to connect with other traditional families who were raising kids of the same ages. We developed a strong support group of families with similar values. We interacted with one another’s children and supported each other’s decisions. We even spent some vacations camping together. The key to this was being willing to join in even though we weren’t a “traditional” family!
Brenda: Were there days when you were completely overwhelmed? What kept you going on the hardest days?
Holly: Uh, yeah! What kept me going was seeing their precious faces depending on me. And I also had to loosen my grip on trying to do everything. Honestly, my kids didn’t grow up in the cleanest house. We maintained a level of health hygiene but there were often piles of laundry in the bathroom and dishes in the sink. It was more important to me to spend the evening sitting on the sofa with them or at the pool in the summer than it was to fold the laundry. What my kids remember today is the time we spent together, not whether the house was spotless or dinner was on the table at 6 pm every night.
Brenda: Is dating a part of your life now? At what point did dating become part of your life again? How did you know you were healthy enough to begin dating?
Holly: I dated a good bit when my kids were young. I was not nearly healthy enough to begin dating though and probably made some poor choices in front of my kids. When my daughter was about 12 though, I remember promising God that I would finish raising my kids before I chose to get married again. It was a heart-pounding moment for me because I really, really wanted a Godly spouse (and still do!). But it was a decision I don’t regret to this day, even though I’m still not remarried. God may have a different plan for your life, but I would encourage you to make your children a priority and let God open the doors for dating or marriage.
Brenda: How has dating and looking at potential future husbands changed since your previous marriage experience? How do you approach dating differently?
Holly: Knowing myself makes me pretty picky and keeps me on high alert for anything that even remotely resembles triggers from my past. My former spouse didn’t share my spiritual values so that’s a biggie on my list too. I’m also very conservative in any physical contact. I’m just at the point in my life where I don’t want to go around kissing a bunch of frogs in search for a prince!
Brenda: What advice would you give a newly single mom? What should she do first to begin the process of healing and restoration for her and her child?
Holly: To any sweet mama out there who is beginning this walk, I’d encourage you to find a church that is supportive of your journey. If divorce is part of your story, find a church that offers a divorce recovery program like DivorceCare and go! Don’t be afraid to get counseling for yourself and your child(ren). And know that it is a process…you may step in and out of counseling several times over the years and that’s okay. It helped my children immensely to go back and reframe what had happened to our family as they went through different growth phases of their own lives. Pray a lot. Cut yourself some slack. And just love on those babies!
Brenda: What advice would you give single moms who have been single for a longer period of time but can’t seem to find peace in their circumstances?
Holly: Well that’s a tough situation to be in. The only thing that has brought me to contentment in my circumstances is to recognize that being single is way better than being in the wrong marriage. And to accept that if I’m not content in my life as it is, changing the circumstances isn’t going to make it better. You know the old saying that everywhere you go, there you are. If I am content in my current life, then I’ll take a much happier and healthier person into any new life circumstances. So check in to see where God is leading you to be happy and healthy and content today. Then regardless of what happens next, you will be able to lead a fulfilling and purposeful life.
Brenda: And some fun stuff!
Brenda: Which do you like best – Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or all of it!)?
Holly: All of the above!
Brenda: What’s your favorite drink?
Brenda: Where would you want to live the rest of your life – beach or mountains?
Holly: Hmmm…I live in the mountains, and I love the beach. But I’m not really a sun-gal (red hair and blue eyes, you know!). So I’d say halfway in-between so I can easily visit either one. That’s the beauty of living in NC!
Brenda: Do you read more fiction or nonfiction?
Holly: Probably read more non-fiction but would love to have time to read more good fiction!
Brenda: Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Holly: Off the charts extrovert!
Brenda: What’s something quirky about you?
Holly: In another lifetime, I raced cars on the weekends. True story.
Brenda: What else do we need to know about you? Where can we connect with you online?
Holly: Blog – http://hollybarrett.org
Facebook – Holly Barrett
Twitter – @hollysbarrett
Pinterest – hollysbarrett
Instagram – hollysbarrett