Unwanted

Parenthood is a real joy. It is a privilege that God gives in co-creation. Children are cute, warm, unassuming, innocent, loving and irresistible. Parenting can also be a challenge. It can draw every ounce of strength you have. It can give you sleepless nights as you ponder over choices about food, clothing, housing, lifestyle, schooling, fees and discipline.

Nothing complicates and increases the difficulty of parenting more than doing it alone. It’s difficult to think through and activate decisions about food, clothing, housing, lifestyle, fees and discipline – when you are alone. Single parenthood is one of those situations in life that faces people close to us and many do not know just how difficult it can be.

It could be the person right next to you.

Typical Stereotype: The typical stereotype of a single parent is of a lady who was in a relationship, got into a compromising situation with the boyfriend, got pregnant and now she is a single parent. Often times we do not seek to understand the complexities of the relationships involved, the pain of rejection, the difficult nature of the situation and the possible long term effects on those involved.

Truth: This stereotype is not always accurate: Yes some single parents come out of casual extramarital relationships. But we also have many single parents out of such situations as  – broken engagements, single parents by choice, rape, separation & divorce, widowhood, dysfunctional polygamous families, migrant husbands or companions. And finally – single parents are not always women!

Feelings: A single parent has to walk through life battling many tough challenges. Example: “There were feelings of failure towards my family, to my friends and myself. After I gave birth, I was excited but also scared of not delivering in terms of being a mother, fear of failure to be a good parent, fear of not being able to provide for my son.” Other feelings include: Unwanted by friends/family, judged, lonely, condemned, guilty, identity crisis, regret, injustice.

Challenges: There are always financial challenges as children are very expensive to maintain. Shuffling between working shifts and trying to maintain constant parenting is difficult. People form a judgment about you. This is a difficult life to live. What can we do to become a better community for the single parents who are an important part of our communities?

Caveat: Yes, God never meant for it to be this way. Children were meant to be raised by a father and mother. This is what the Bible teaches. However life happens and, like other things in life, what is idea is no longer the case. When we become redeemed as individuals and as a community what is it that God requires us to do? What are some lessons we can learn from God’s Word that will give us teaching and direction about how to be a more loving and caring community towards single parents among us?

Scripture

The story begins in Genesis 15 then16:1-4 where Abraham and Sarah hear of God’s promise to make them into a nation. Since Sarah was barren both she and her husband decided to solve the problem. Sarah gave her African domestic technician and personal assistant, to Abraham as a mistress, or surrogate mother to help solve the issue. Hagar bore Abraham a bouncing baby boy – Ishmael. It seemed like a great idea, even though it brought tension between Sarah and Hagar. There was promise, hope, joy, pleasure, warmth at least on the part of Hagar and possibly Abraham. Then trouble came to paradise. Then life happened for all of them. Sarah also conceived and bore a son – Isaac.

Read Genesis 21:8-20

Hagar bearing the child started with all good emotions – acceptance, joy, pleasure, big dreams. They even thought it was God’s plan. This is one of the biggest challenges of single parenthood. We all need to understand that no one starts out expecting for it to be challenging. Everyone means well. No one is looking for the twists and turns of parenting as a single person. This is one of the things we need to be most sensitive about. What can we learn from Hagar about single parenthood?

Its difficult;

  • resources run out  – 21:15. Resources will always be a challenge for a single person trying to make ends meet and care for their children. Food, rent, fees, cloths and other costs are a challenge.
  • relationships are strained – Abraham and Sarah had strained relationships with Hagar in different ways at different points. Even to the extent that Hagar was chased away. In modern days, relationships are strained with your ex- the father or mother of your child. Parents have an issue, your friends judge you, some Christians will not associate with you, potential spouses are wary of you.
  • there is great difficulty –  21:14 There are many difficulties some of which are social, psychological, economic and relational. For example it can be a real issue today on whether you get hired or not, whether you get invited to certain spaces or not etc.

In spite of these challenges Hagar became the mother of a nation, in some ways similar to Sarah. Even though Hagar was not originally God’s plan – God chose to keep his promise to make all of Abraham’s offspring into nations. What else can we learn from this.

God sees 21:17 First of all Hagar began by recognizing the fact that God sees. She referred to God as El Roi – the God who sees in Genesis 16. Nitamwimbia Bwana kwa kuwa yeye ameniona. She understood that even though her situation was challenging, God is a God who sees. This is a fundamental starting point for single parents. God is not unaware. He is very alert and is able to see.

God opens ones eyes to opportunity to mother 21:19. I believe it is Hagars understanding of who God is and his ability to see that gave her enough faith to solve the challenge of her single parenting situation. When resources ran out God opened her eyes to see. God sees but he also opens our eyes to opportunities and solutions for our life problems.

As a single parent, if you let him – God will open your eyes;

  • To opportunities for provision for you and your people
  • To job opportunities
  • To see surrogate parents for your children
  • Opportunities to better care for these children

God opens opportunity for the children 21:20

When we understand who God is and tap into his power, we are then able to petition him for our children and pray for blessings. There is nothing as powerful as a parents blessing over their children. You can pray for and seek blessing for your child or children so that they can experience the opportunity that only God can give.

God obligates himself to fulfill his promises – and if you claim these promises for your children he will fulfill them. You have the power to bless your child with your mouth, through Christ. Use that power. If you are a child of a single parent God hears you. He knows your pain. He hears you as well.

How then do we respond to single parents in our midst? We want to be a church that C.A.R.E.S.

  • Community: come close to the single parent and surround.  This is what church is about. This is why we have life groups. Community is key – you cannot be great alone. You can never parent alone. You must learn to never walk alone. You were designed to walk through life with others. Families and LGs should adopt the kids – within the life group. Do not do it alone but within the LG. That way it will be appropriate, effective and well received.
  • Active: listening. We need to actively listen when a person is sharing their honest feelings. Allow them to be human. We need to create a safe place for our friends to speak honestly. Active listening means that you empathize.
  • Empathy is when you listen with a view to trying to understand and feel what the other person is feeling.
  • Teach: Listen quietly without undue interruption. Seek clarification to make sure you understand clearly. Speak back what you hear. Maintain a posture of interest not disinterest. Ignore or put off your phone.
  • Reason: together – When they are ready and when they invite you, then you need to reason together and share possible solutions with them. Brain storm with an open mind about how your relative or friend can move on in life.
  • Engage: in a constructive action – take one or two of your ideas that will build the person and walk with them as they move on. Life must move on.
  • Submit: everything and everyone to God – In a gentle way point the person to God’s sovereignty over their circumstances. Do not try to explain away their circumstances
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3 Responses to “Unwanted”

  1. Great post! The society puts the single parents through a lot..

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  2. By Gods grace Says:

    I wish you interviewed the people who have been raised by single parents also.I was raised by single grandma n when you talked about single parenthood tear were flowing of the things i went through n i still go through .baraka .

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  3. i was raised in a single parent home…and i am now a single parent. i feel encouraged to read your words as this is indeed a big challenge. I am coming to grips with my situation but i believe God will help me through it.

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