This post has taken me two weeks to write. I’ve tried to write what’s on my heart but with some compassion mixed in. That’s always been a struggle of mine and I pray I have made some strides in that area. I’m trying to write about something I feel is important but I’m doing so in a state of hurt so I don’t want it to sound condescending. Here we go.
A friend and I were texting about some struggles we were working through and she referred to me as part of the “single moms” group. It took me about a day to allow that to sink in, I’m not sure why. Maybe because before that moment I didn’t really realize that’s what I was. Maybe because since my divorce I haven’t thought of myself as a “single mom” but in all technicality, that is what I am at this stage in my life. I suddenly found myself amid a huge lightbulb moment.
After this enlightening moment, I started to get a bit angry. You see I’m 44 and I’m pretty “together” and somewhat fun to be friends with. I’ve been seeking out support in church because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? As believers, we are supposed to be in community with other believers. But here is what I’ve found over the past five years and it saddens me that, in my experience, the church is failing so miserably when it comes to single moms.
Single moms hear sermon after sermon about how we’re supposed to put God before men. I absolutely agree and hope that is the case if I am ever presented with the opportunity to choose in the future. We are told by other Christians, sometimes not so nicely, not to have sex, find a Godly man, put your children first, and so on and so on. Rules, rules, rules. Rules are good, I have no issue with what God commands. But how? How are we supposed to do these things without support from the church?
Enter my brain for a moment.
There are a lot of married moms in the church. There are few single moms in church. If you are one of those married moms I would like you to take a moment and think about the last time you checked in on a single mom, invited a single mom to lunch or coffee, included a single mom in a playdate with your married mom friends, sent a simple text asking, “how’re things with you?”.
My ex-husband and I were together for 10 years and in that time, I never had depression. Maybe a sad day or week here and there but never a depression like the ones that I’ve written about over the past couple years. During these past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that depression wasn’t completely to blame for the way I’ve struggled over the past few years.
Divorce changed most things for me. After my husband and I separated my brother died and my mom came back into my life and so on. I’ve written about most of this so you can dig deeper if you want. With all these changes also came loss of family and friends. Mostly anyone who was in my life in 2009 is no longer here. This is how I ended up at church. I was alone, broken, sad, angry and knew the only thing that would fix it was God. So, I went back to church.
I’m not trying to heap out condemnation here, and I don’t want pity. I truly understand that being a wife is sometimes a difficult and time-consuming job but imagine for a second having to do your work and then your husbands. Go to work full-time, pick up your kids, make dinner, do homework, give baths, and the put the kids to bed. And now that they’re in bed you get to clean up everything that just took place over the past three hours, throw a load of wash in and prepare for tomorrow.
And I know from present experience that as she’s doing all this she wishes she had someone to share her day with but unfortunately there isn’t anyone. At least over the age of 18. Then she gets to crawl into bed by herself and think about how BY HERSELF SHE REALLY IS.
Because not one woman from the church she attends every week, twice, has even bothered to reach out and let her know that she’s not alone. It’s heartbreaking and inexcusable.
Look around your church and see how many singles moms are there. Very few. Because they feel judged, shunned and not good enough. And that’s in real life, it can be worse in church. It is so simple to text, “you are thought of”. Trust me, it would mean THE WORLD to someone scraping through life on a thread to know someone is thinking of them. I pray for that text.
Single moms don’t want to be a burden, they don’t want your money or to ask for anything. At least most, I would imagine. But we do want friendship. We want to be included. We have so much to offer and it saddens me that we are left out. Constantly.
If you want us to be Godly single moms then come along side of us and show us what good relationships look like. Don’t let us settle because we’re lonely. Don’t let us lose ourselves to someone who’s not worthy because we are so desperate to be noticed.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” ~ Colossians 1:9-11
Don’t let us feel so alone. Married moms, you have such a kingdom opportunity here. Don’t miss out. Who’s the single mother you can come along side of and walk this life with? Who can you offer hope and compassion to?
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Tina, These are things we need to hear. I am so sorry that this is your experience, sadly, I am not surprised. Please don’t forget Titus 2. There is also a responsibility of older women to teach the younger, that is best done in relationship with them. I pray the Church will see what is lacking and step up to love one another and serve one another, and that you would see the fruit of this post. Thanks for shedding real light on a group we are failing.
Hey Tina, I send you so much love from Texas. I do feel your heart and yes you are absolutely right. As a church I feel like we are failing in the area of ” being servants”. God is still sovereign though.
This is such an important post, Tina. Thank you for being brave and sharing your heart!
Tina, thank you for this important reminder. I was raised by a single mom, and I can only imagine her loneliness. Also, my husband has traveled quite often for the last 26 years, leaving me to deal with all of the things–but I always had his income and his support, even if only by phone. All that to say, I might have a teeny taste, but no real idea of what you’re going through, which is why I am so grateful for your post. I know our church reaches out somewhat to single moms and single women (by divorce or widowhood) in general, but we need to be better. We need to do more. Thank you for being brave.
Your courage with the truth always leaves me in awe, Tina. Your voice is the voice of the lonely in so many ways. Thanks for convicting me on all counts. It’s certainly worth prayer and attention for all the singles out there who struggle with this.
To be honest with you, the Church can do little to satisfy those deep longings within you. I hear your frustration and loneliness, and I know what it is like, having moved so much of my life and attended many a “new” church. What I’ve found is that it can take up to 3 years to feel that you are really known in your church, and to find “your” people among the many who attend. It doesn’t seem like it can be hurried no matter how hard you try. Even if it is only one or two people who truly understand you and care for you, they are worth their weight in gold. The Church is a wonderful entity, but it is made up of flawed people who themselves are trying to make a go of their lives, and the individuals who attend are often more focused on simply getting through life – particularly those who are raising children. So they will let you down, as they have let me down. I would encourage you to persevere through this transition time. There are people out there who are your people, but it may take time to discover who they are.
Well written Tina. I feel your pain.
You did however forget this pearl of wisdom ” you have to enjoy being alone before you can be happy with someone else” of course I’ve rarely heard someone who is actually alone say that..
What you have said is very true. Although I must say I haven’t always found other single mothers to be so supportive either. Believe me. It’s the old, I did/do it this way & you should too. I think the problem is the church just isn’t geared toward single women, not older ones with children for sure because good Christians don’t get divorced….Lucky them.
TINA!!! This is brilliant, awesome, raw, real! Thank you so much for sharing. I have LONG thought that single mothers are this society’s widows–raising children without a husband/father. As such, I believe all those verses about caring for the widow apply to single moms. Don’t know that I’m biblical but it’s what my heart says. I totally feel like blinders just came off my eyes. I sit here picturing my church and I can’t see one single mom. Wow!! PM me your phone number and I will totally check in on you, friend! I am very sorry that the body of Christ is neglecting you!