On a Bright Note…When the Church Steps Up

FrustratedBlackWoman1Shortly after publishing my last post What’s a Single Mom to Do?, I thought about editing it to downplay the emotions that so clearly came through. But I decided not to because I intentionally wrote the piece from a place of raw emotion and did not want to wordsmith or otherwise water it down with a clinical application of the tensions single parents feel, and in many cases, are made to feel, in the church.  Nonetheless, I probably came off a bit harsh on the church, which is a bit unfair. There are some congregations that do demonstrate care for the realities of single parents and avoid the careless cliche-ish ways that singles, and particularly, single parents are sometimes treated.

I came across this post by Ed Cyzewski, The Church was Super Lucky to Have Me as an On-line Consultant.   I confess that was somewhat convicted having just posted a criticism of how the church handles single parent, fatherless households. Ed rightly notes that there is a substantial amount of on-line energy devoted to rebuking the church for her woes, as if she is beholden to our virtual criticism. Instead he exhorts,

I’m just wondering if we could spent a bit more time writing about what’s working, what’s good, what’s out of the ordinary and unexpectedly good and authentic.

These aren’t always the most controversial or clickable topics. Frankly, they’re often hard to find, and unbearably ordinary without the flash and flare of big personalities. Perhaps that’s why it’s hard to write about all of the things that make church wonderful. It looks like a friend who offers to bail you out of a hard time, families who bring over meals when you’re struggling, single moms who support your wife through the tumult of a newborn, pastors who share openly about the burdens on their minds, elders who listen to the congregation, and leaders who are wholly invested in making church the best experience possible for the children who show up.

There are stories of hope out there, and I’ll be honest, I need them. I need to know that some good things are happening. It’s not all celebrity preachers building mansions out there.

On that vein, I thought it would be good and encouraging to talk about some positive experiences that I’ve had, where people have reached out and cared about our situation. Continue reading

What’s A Single Mom to Do?: The Church, Singles and the Fatherless

I confess upfront that this is going to be a somewhat personal post because this is topic near and dear to my heart and one in which I have experienced great heartache. But hopefully leveraging my own angst might generate some food for thought, especially among church leaders but definitely among all the people of God.

I sometimes think we have a bi-polar disorder in the church. Now I’m not making light of those who suffer from this psychiatric condition. Why do I say that? The other day, a friend sent me a sermon on 1 Corinthians 7 that was given to singles at her church. Now granted, it was part of a series so maybe some of what concerned me was covered in another sermon. But the heart of it was pretty standard stuff I’ve heard before. Paul says singleness is better because you can devote yourself to the Lord. Don’t be over-desirous of marriage because that is idolatry (note the introduction of the dichotomies we like to create so much). If you really hate singleness and really want marriage, you probably have a problem. Bottom line, be content where you are.

single mom with kidsBut in the same breath, we sound the alarm regarding the fatherless. We decry single-mother households and their detrimental impact on boys growing up without dad. Of course, the assumption is that it is that way because the moms have no use for men. Never mind that contributing factors in these situations also includes 1) the guy totally abdicate his responsibilities; 2) the guy mistreats the woman that breaches the marriage covenant; or 3) the guy dies. Yes, I hate to break it to the statistics mongers but devaluing a dad in the home is not the only reason these situations happen. We live in a very broken world, which also produces bad kids with dads in the house. Yes, lets talk about that in the same breath as how bad off fatherless boys are. Now I’m not undermining the importance of fathers, not in the least. Only that we need to be cognizant of rash generalities and the fact that many single-mother homes would rather not want it that way.

So on one hand, we tell the single mother with the fatherless boy to be content and don’t really yearn for marriage. But on the other hand, we give her every reason to believe that her household is dire straights without a dad. What is a single mother to do? Continue reading