Maintaining Our Family Routines as Single Mothers
- Friday, June 27, 2003
Structure often gets us over the rough spots. So having a set time for meals, homework and shores adds needed organization to our schedules. And if single parents need anything in their routine, it's regular Scripture reading.
For years, we've read the Bible after weekday dinners and kept track of our prayer requests in a notebook. Guests, including any of Jay's and Holly's friends who happen to be over for dinner, are invited to join us.
One evening Holly's friend, Jessica, and Jay's German friend, Till, were with us. As we finished our meat loaf, Jay read several of our favorite psalms.
I then explained that it was our custom to take turns praying, and that Till was welcome to join us.
He nervously replied, "But I've never prayed in English!"
"Then pray in German," I said. "You're talking to God, not to us. But you don't have to pray aloud if you don't want to. You do whatever makes you feel comfortable."
So Jay opened the prayer time, followed by Jessica and Holly. I was all set to close the prayers when Till hesitantly began to pray. In his first timid words, I caught the word "Deutsch" and knew he was telling the Lord that I'd said he should pray in German.
Gradually, his timidity slipped away, and he began earnestly to talk to God. Even though I couldn't understand the words, I understood the emotion - and felt the thankfulness that welled up within his prayer.
We would have missed a special blessing that evening if we had set aside our family routine because of guests.
We Must Be Realistic in Our Expectations of Others
Most of us learned a long time ago that we can't expect others to be all we need them to be. Here's what we've learned the hard way:
(1.) Don't Expect Others to Do Everything for You
I remember one young widow who demanded that the men of the church answer her every call for help. If her car tires needed air of if her house windows were dirty, she called on the churchmen to assist her. When they balked - after all, most of them didn't do windows for their own wives! - she complained to the pastor, saying the church was supposed to take care of its widows.
That's true, but only to a point. The instructions in James 1:27 direct the Church to provide for their shelter and food, but not for taking over work they can - and should - do for themselves.
(2.) Don't Expect Others to Take on Your Hurt
Even though it's been almost 12 years since her divorce, Jan still holds a grudge against a woman in her church who didn't respond in the way Jan had felt she should have.
In great detail, Jan describes the Wednesday night service when her husband handed her the car keys, said, "Who are we trying to kid?" and walked out.
In that moment, she knew their struggling marriage was over. Numb, she sat through the rest of the service, wanting to give him enough time to walk a few blocks home and to pack his suitcase.
After the service, the woman sitting behind her asked if everything was all right. With tears running down her cheeks, Jan blurted out that she was facing a divorce. "Then the woman patted my arm, said God would be with me, and went home to her husband!" Jan says.
Sure, it would have been wonderful if the woman had wrapped her in a hug and said, "Oh, Honey!" but she didn't.
If we're going to think, it's not fair, and be hurt every time someone fails to provide what we think we need, we're going to be hurting a lot. Other people have their own problems, too, and they can't take on ours any more that we can take on theirs.
Welcome the help when it comes, but don't demand it. By looking at our situation realistically, we can get through it with less trauma.
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