A widow who has used all three sick days tending to her youngest wakes up to find her oldest with a fever.
An unwed mother with no family needs someone to watch her baby because the daycare has a sick child policy.
A single dad needs a sitter for a snow day.
In a perfect world, we'd say simply, stay home with your children.
Sick kids happen. Snow days happen. Parents need to miss work. This shouldn't be complicated.
But here in the real world, it is complicated.
Understandable, corporations need their employees to show up to work, otherwise, production and sales suffer. I worked in corporate America for 13 years. I was at one point responsible for setting and enforcing attendance policies. I sympathized with the single women who were trying hard to work and care for children yet only so much grace was able to be extended. Whether we like it or not, there are times when a choice must be made between losing your job and caring for your children. I don't want it to be that way. I shouldn't have to be that way.
“That's why women shouldn't have children before they're married,” you scoff.
In a perfect world, that would be great. But here in this fallen world, women have children before their married.
Happily married women with 3.5 children and white picket fences fall hard when Daddy walks away.
Devoted fathers never step off the plane after duty calls.
Mothers get cancer and die way too young.
Single parenthood is not a reason for the church to turn it's back and scoff at the unholy. It a chance for the church to rise to the occasion. You see, the answer for the single parent who cannot miss work is simply The Church.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
~ Philippians 2:4
I heard this devotion at a local prayer gathering once:
An email went out two days before Thanksgiving; at the height of an early snow storm. “Babysitter needed” for two young boys. Their single father not able to take off for their snow day. The church put out the call for help for this single, working father. “But I'm so busy,” this mom reasoned. And rightly so. Just days before the holiday, young children of her own and a To Do list a mile long.
After 12 hours of reasoning herself out offering to help, she offered anyway. To her surprise not only did the extra children cause no extra work, she even kept them longer than necessary because they were having such a good time with her children.
In denying herself, this mother was able to bless a single father and do what the church is meant to do; be the body of Christ.
We had a single mom in our church not too long ago. In fact, she still occasionally reaches out to me with homeschool stuff for Wyatt. I regret that while she was knee-deep in working and homeschooling as a single mom I never asked how I could help her. Selfishness clouded my vision and I could not see how much I had to offer her. A meal, a free night of babysitting so she could just be a woman (take a long bath, read a book, watch a movie). We always chatted and even prayed for each other but could have done so much more.
My pastor recently ended our service with a statement that went something like this; The building is not the church. We are the church who meets in this building. We'd meet under a tree but it would be a bit cold in January.
You don't need to have a brand new facility with a dedicated day care, coffee shop, and a bookstore to help people and minister to those in need. What you need is a selfless love that puts aside your interest and thinks of the interest of others.
Single parenthood, no matter how it comes, isn't easy. The church (that would be you and me) needs to stop looking down in judgement of the “how” behind their singleness and begin meeting the needs of single moms and dads. Love them, help them, heal them. Our job is to love and help. God's job is to heal.
Do you know a single parent in your church, your neighborhood….your family? What can you do to bless them?