I started slinking into church. Avoiding.
The same church that I’d served in children’s and women’s ministry for years. The same church I’d attended Bible studies, and Bible classes. In a moment’s notice, my world had changed and I was filled with dread about how the people of my church would react. I knew what they thought about divorce. I’d heard the sermons. The comments. The suggestions about others who had gone before me.
I cried through those first services and wondered what people thought, even though most members I’d reached out to were completely supportive of my circumstances. Still, it seemed that eyes were always on me. So much so, that I found it difficult to concentrate on what I needed most at the moment: time with God.
For the first time in my life I thought about the single moms that came before me. I’d seen them slink in, avoiding. And I wondered if I’d been kind or judgmental.
The truth is that single moms leave the church in droves. In droves. According to Jennifer Maggio, founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, some studies suggest as many as 67% of single moms currently do not attend church – many citing fear of being judged as key. And while some will say that the church is not to be condemned when we are hurt by those in it and feel the need to leave, it still matters.
Because not only is that mom leaving at a crucial time in her life, she is taking an average of 2 children with her. Children who have also suffered a devastating loss. Children who need to know about a Savior who hasn’t left them alone in this great sadness they are feeling over the change in their family.
If you’ve left the church as a single mom, or even changed churches, there is no condemnation. In fact, I’ll bet that in your specific circumstances, you should have left. Maybe leaving was the only way to keep your faith intact. To be able to leave the door open to returning someday.
God knows. He sees. He is more brokenhearted than anyone at the way you’ve suffered. At the way others have reacted. At the words said that have broken both of your hearts. He’s been sitting with you as you moved slowly to the back of the church, until one day, you simply stopped coming in at all.
Maybe your someday is now.
He longs for you to return. And not to the back pew.
He’s inviting you to the front. Where the focus is on Him. Where the looks fall behind you, and you no longer care about them. Back to worshiping Him. And fellowshipping with Him. And looking to Him to remind you of just how valuable you are to His church.
To bring back not only His daughter, but your sons and daughters as well. Because a time will come in your children’s lives that rock them to the core. They will be hurt by something or someone in the church. It’s almost as if it’s a part of the Christian walk, isn’t it? And in that moment, they need to remember a mother who put the pain aside, and chose to focus on her Savior instead. Who forgave, and forgot, so that she could move forward in Him.
This Sunday, you’ll find me in a pew, with my children beside me.
I hope you’ll join me there.
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