This subject touches a nerve with me. Sending kids to church, but not going yourself. As a single, divorced, separated or even remarried parent. And you are probably not going to believe the nerve it touches!
At 18 year old and pregnant, I felt like I didn’t belong in church. No one ministered to me at all. The ladies at church did give me a baby shower, and I will forever be grateful. The problem is, I felt so ostracized from the church because of my sin of carrying a child out of wedlock.
Was it what the people in my church did? I think its more of what they didn’t do. They did however treat me just as I always had been treated. But I didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t know the new pastor that had come to our church. I had never met him. I just didn’t go while I was pregnant. I felt bad about my own decisions and there was no one to talk to about anything. I don’t think they knew how to approach me.
When my first son was born, the pastor was new, only being in our church for a few weeks. He came to visit me. He actually went to the wrong room and got to pray with a mom who’s baby was born with some problems and had been sent to another hospital. God was in that pastor’s visit. He forever changed the way I saw him as a person. He was full of life, full of forgiveness, and overjoyed that I had a new healthy baby!
Just over 2 years later I brought another son into the world. I wasn’t in church all the time, but I did go from time to time. That pastor always made me feel welcome. But by then their dad and I were living together. Living in sin, with our children that were born out of wedlock. It would later be the Bible that brought me back to live with my parents, but I still felt a heavy burden on my shoulders.
I had 3 children out of wedlock, with the same man. When I think about it, it makes me ashamed of myself and how I lived my life.
Through the years I brought more than one man to church with me that I was dating. I taught Sunday school and directed VBS. I lead Youth events for the church. I loved it. But as a single mom of 3 kids, who still carried that burden I felt like I didn’t get the respect that I deserved in the church. After a couple years of changing my work schedule so that I could teach and then a teenager that I taught was being nominated to one of the boards in our church and yet it had never been discussed for me to be on a board, the proverbial straw broke the camel’s back. I was angry, felt under-appreciated, and jealous., among other things. But most of all it made me not want to work in the church that I loved.
I was once asked to speak up for the single mother’s of our community, and present something to the board. Well I did. What I suggested was immediately shut down, no discussion. I got mad. I left and didn’t go back to many things for a while. It hurt my feelings that the pastor had felt my voice needed to be heard, and knew that I had a heart for this mission and that there was a need, yet the board didn’t respect me enough to really listen to me.
So again I was ngry, felt under-appreciated, and jealous., among other things. But then I started not coming back to events at church. It went on to me not going on Sundays and only events that involved my kids.
So yes, I send my kids to church more often that I go with my children to church. I’ve been hurt, and I know that I”m not the only single or divorced (and even remarried) parent to be hurt by the church.
Divorce, separation and being a single parent brings enough stress to the table for our churches to add to this stress.
Today we are waiting on a new pastor to come to our church in the summer. After a year of constant, and I do mean constant chaos, loss and stress in my family our current pastor and his wife are only known to make comments about how we don’t come to church, they have never called to ask if they could visit or if we would like to come visit them. I have asked them specifically for prayer about our situations, and many of my messages fell on deaf ears. Do you have any idea how disheartening this is to not have your own church praying for you?
It hurts our feelings each and every time that we hear, “We hope to see you in church on Sunday.” We want to be in church. We want to be active in church and all of its functions. My husband and I grew up being in church every time the doors open, and not only in one church, but we worked in multiple churches in our community. Some days its as hard for us not to be with a church family as it is to be with a church family.
It has been suggested that we find a new church where we will feel more welcomed. Honestly, we love the church that we are at and the more we pray the more we are pulled toward our current church where we grew up. We don’t feel God asking us to leave, but to stick it out. So we are pushing ourselves to go a little more regular.
So next time someone says they wish the kids parents would come to church instead of just sending them, think about the hurt that has come from the church in the years that the parent struggled through being a scared and pregnant teenager, struggling with an abusive spouse, then through a devastating divorce or separation Parents of blended families have walked the streets of hell in some situations, and only need a shoulder to lean on in hard times, and of course prayer. Be a little more considerate, sometimes sitting through a church service can be the toughest thing they’ve dealt with emotionally all week, and if you’ve ever been a single parent, that’s saying something!