I have the world’s best ex-husband. It’s true. Sure, we have our problems, and those problems, within the realm of marriage, are significant – that’s why he’s my EX-husband. But, I’m lucky that we have the weirdly cordial relationship we have. Besides the fact that it’s healthier for our kids, it’s also a huge help at church.
We’ve made the conscious choice to continue going to Messiah. BOTH of us. And we’re both involved there. David is on the Chrysalis board and the pastor’s mutual ministry team. I mean, we’re making this “separately together” thing look so easy that he’s my go-to guy on the Marketing Team. I have no doubt that people at church probably think we’re two of the strangest individuals they’ve ever met. We sit on the same pew (it helps corral the kiddos) and sit out on the deck and chat before Sunday School. I’m sure they’re wondering…. if they get along so well, why not stay married? I’ll let you in on a secret, we get along so well precisely because we’re not married. We started out as friends, and if it weren’t for two deliciously sweet and silly sisters, I would say it should have remained just a close friendship. But, I know our situation isn’t normal, furthermore, I know that most single moms do the church thing flying solo. What I want to know is, how?
I just finished leading a 7-week Tuesday night Bible study. It was a small turnout, too small to justify hiring a babysitter, especially since it was just MY two kids there, spinning around the floor of the Fellowship Hall like out-of-control tops. Messiah was already losing out on the cost of food and study materials, so, it just made sense not to pay someone to keep the kids. David did that, instead. He ran after them, read to them, kept them from destroying the new Messiah library, and made sure they ate their dinner. I couldn’t have led Beta without him.
I serve on the Church Council, I teach Sunday School sometimes, I have worked on Outreach, I head up the Marketing Team and most recently led Beta. I might like to be in choir or help with Sacred Edge or start a college and career group or lead a small group in-home study, but I don’t think those things are compatible with being a single mom. I already have to find childcare, many times because there is none available for council meetings, marketing meetings, etc. What’s a single mom to do that doesn’t have a willing partner to take care of the kids? Are they supposed to stay out of ministry because of their status as a single?
There’s a stigma attached to divorce. Someone reading this is going to judge me for not sticking with it for the children, or because of what it says in the Bible or because of their own personal achievement over marital disappointments, but I would suggest holding off on judgement, because the story is longer than the 700 words in this post. My point isn’t to talk about divorce, it’s to ask what the Church is doing to support single parents who are supporting the ministry of the Church.
All churches, if they are trying to grow, are probably looking to grow from the middle – with young families. Young families have small children, and with young couples and small children, come grandparents and extended family. If yours is a church that is growing by adding in young families, there needs to be programs in place to support those families. Education programs and fellowship events are going to draw even more young families, but it’s also going to bring in people like me… single mothers. It’s going to draw in people like my friend Robert … single dads. We want to help grow the church for the Kingdom of God, too. We don’t want to be a drain; we want to do our part.
We can’t do our part, be the hands and feet of Christ, if those hands are holding apart our feuding offspring and our feet are chasing after escapee toddlers. What’s a single mom to do without a David? What’s a single dad to do without an ex-wife like me, who’ll keep the kids during your meetings at the church? What can we do to make chairing a committee possible? What can we do to make spearheading a major event possible? What can we do to make full participation by single parents possible in today’s church?
** Happy Birthday, David! You smell…………. like a toad.