Hi friend, this post is part of my series: parenting a hurting child. I pray that you will be blessed. Check out the other posts in the series and be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss any updates.
Last week someone stopped reading my blog because I revealed that my family was using food stamps. Her words cut deep into my insecurity. In that moment, years of pain flashed before my eyes: empty pantries, social services offices, and divorce papers. It doesn’t take but a second for me to close my eyes and clearly replay the entire scene where he claimed to have never loved me as he packed his suitcase to move into the mistress’ apartment. In that moment, I tried to fight back the tears of circumstances that I didn’t choose. Circumstances that robbed every ounce of dignity that I once thought I had and exchanged them for the shame of government assistance. As I stared at the computer screen the only response I could think of was, “how else do I feed them?”
In my circumstances, I often come up empty on this question. Anyone who thinks that being a single mom is a good idea, clearly hasn’t walked that path. The cost of caring for 4 children is high, the cost of putting them all in daycare is higher. And the court…it’s almost laughable to think that after 15 months, we still can’t get our case before a judge.
I need a miracle.
Tears invade the moment until I see the truth. There are miracles all around me. God is providing, why am I ashamed? Perhaps this particular reader didn’t like the fact that I was using government assistance, but if it’s not there for women like me, who is it for? Friend, maybe you aren’t a single parent struggling to make ends meet, but if your child is hurting, it’s likely that you need help. The question remains, will we accept the help that is being offered or will pride keep the blessing away?
Where do we find help?
I’m not suggesting that everyone run out a apply for food stamps tomorrow. Government assistance is just one very temporary way that God meets our needs. (Remember He is sovereign over the government?) The church is His chosen preference. I am blessed to report that my church is truly the “hands and feet” of God. Local service, community service, and missions are a priority both to the elders and the members. Most churches have programs for your situation…no matter what it is. There are support groups, counselors, and money. Yes, I said money. We have to stop being so shy about this. My church has offered so many times to help me, most of which I have turned down, claiming that someone else surely needs it more than I do. Friends, we need to be brave enough to ask for and take advantage of these services. If nor for ourselves, then for our kids. Because they are watching every move we make. If they go to bed hungry because we stop fighting for them, what does that teach them?
You might also consider looking for an older couple from your church that might want to invest in your family, spending time with your kids and just loving on your family in general. There are several couples in our church that invest in hurting children and families in our church like this and it’s such a beautiful picture of God’s provision.
Don’t rule out the community. Have you considered a resource center in your area? Aside from government assistance, there are counseling, support groups, and all kinds of special programs out there. For example, Big Brother-Big Sister might be an excellent resource for a child in need of male/female influence that a single parent can not provide. Most cancer hospitals have foundations and counseling for families and patients. There are programs for long-term and short-term anxiety, grief, and pretty much anything that your child might be going through. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The grace of friends
I am in the unfortunate situation of living 12 hours from family. Holidays are lonely and help can be hard to find, but God has graciously given us friends who have invested in our lives. Friends have mowed my lawn, hacked out weeds, delivered meals, slipped money in my purse, and even purchased Christmas gifts for my kids. The list of graciousness from friends is simply too long to share.
Perhaps the most important thing that friends have done for us is the investment of time. We have precious friends who remind us what it’s like to be a family. They spend time hosting our family, praying with us, feeding us, clothing us, and giving of themselves. It’s this type of sacrificial love that roots so deeply in the hearts of my kids. It’s the watching of a daddy love on his family from the head of the dinner table, opening up his invitation to include those little hurting hearts.
When I think about it again, the tears can not help but fall. Who are we that God would love us so much? Who are we that this family, and so many others would give so selflessly?
Friend, I promise that if you ask for help, you will be blessed. Those helping you will be blessed and your hurting hearts will receive double the portion. Blessed are the humble. I pray that we will cast off all shame and walk confidently into the promises that God has prepared for us.
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