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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Valued or Vilified: The Church's Response


Today a series of unusual events led me to write about this topic.

  1. I turned on the car radio. I almost never listen to the car radio anymore. I usually drive in silence or listen to my iTunes library. Lately I've only been listening to my son and daughter's new CD. (CoversCollection, Vol. 1) I actually reached my hand toward the knob, pulled it back, then decided to go ahead and turn on the radio.
  2. The radio was tuned to a station I never listen to. It was one of those local Christian stations that feature pre-recorded talk shows and play a whole lot of Sandi Patty, Petra, and Point of Grace. Not only that, but there was a talk show interviewing a lady with a decided southern drawl AND it was sponsored by Focus on the Family.  (no comment)
  3. I accidentally left the radio on. I have little tolerance for talk shows or talking of any kind. Especially from radio personalities. (Check out earlier blog)
Then I proceeded to listen for 15 minutes to a lady give a brief version of her life story. It was heartbreaking. Not in a tragic, terrorist bombing, kidnapped for 10 years, horrendous car accident, limb losing, suicidal kind of way. But I could just sense the despondency and hopelessness in her story. The story of her childhood. The story of her young adulthood.

Hers was a story of multiple unplanned pregnancies as a teen, no self-worth, shame, ignorance, and despair. Because she didn’t know her value as a woman and a human being, she listened to the Great Liar who told her that she could find value in men and substances. How many times have we seen this with our own eyes? With our own lives? It’s a tired old story, isn’t it?

Famous and not-so-famous magazines have been called out on their tendencies to over-Photoshop models. Sculpting a body with brushes and tools in post production is extremely common and finally exposed. More and more women are photographed and published looking more “normal” and less “Twiggy-fied” so why aren’t we happier with ourselves?

Because self-love doesn’t have anything to do with what’s going on with the external you, and everything to do with what’s feeding the internal part of you. Take it from this author…one who was saved by the grace of God from going where this woman on the radio had been. I know what it’s like to feel not good enough. As a child I couldn’t throw the softball far enough to pass the President’s fitness test without my PE teacher fudging for me. As a young teen on the track team, I always came home from meets with red or white ribbons, never blue. I wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough for my mother. I didn’t finish college when all my friends had a degree. I worked low paying jobs and then a no paying job. (stay at home mom). Nothing as drastic as our radio guest but all together with the verbal abuse I received as a child, acquainted me with low self worth.

Jennifer Maggio, the lady giving her testimony on-air, spoke of how she craved community so she took her children to church as a single mom. On one Mother’s Day, all the mothers of the church were asked to go up to the front and then the pastor asked their husbands to pin corsages on them.  Jennifer stood up there in a panic feeling like there was a neon arrow hanging over her head with “Single Mom: Failure” in lights. This is what broke my heart. I began to wonder how many women who are unmarried, divorced, widowed, with children who feel like a second class citizen at church. While every one of us would jump to our own defense if accused of treating someone that way, we are all guilty of assuming that the single parent does not need us, that they don’t want to socialize with a married couple, that their kids have some “issues” so we will keep ours away from them.

Church can be the loneliest place on earth to a single mother from what I hear. Since I was only single about 15 minutes into adulthood, I don’t feel like an expert on this subject. But I am somewhat of an expert on feeling I had little value during several seasons of my life and I do not wish anyone to feel that way. Let’s try to circle the wagons around those who need to feel a part of something, who need to feel the love of Christ, not feel ostracized for whatever led them to the place they’re in.  It’s time to start loving, People! And loving people.

 Some of the best moms I've ever known (who happen to be single):

Deb

Lindsey

Carmen (#nolongersingle)

My favorite single mom
This is not a post about being single and a mom, or about screwing up a chunk of your life at some point, or about whining about what's wrong with you....it's simply a call to open your eyes to who is around you. They are not better or worse than you. They are your family. Have you ever been desperate for value, or know what it's like to come to church and be lonely? If not, stop yer judgin' and throw another bratwurst on the grill for your sister over there.*
*and her kids!

If any of you reading this feels led to start a ministry for single moms at your church, please check out the resources here to help get you started.

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