No Free Lunches

 

My parents’ marriage didn’t work out – my mother and father divorced when I was around ten years old. I am now aware as an adult that my mother was advised, by persons in the church community, to stay in the marriage relationship despite the fact that it was abusive on many different levels. Today, I am thankful that she didn’t as the storyline of my life would have been very different.

This preamble of my blog is crucial information to the content of this piece. You see, at that time (and it still happens today) divorcees and their children were treated as lepers and outcasts: kept on the outskirts of the community, given what some may consider non-important ministry during service and treated as “less than saints”.

Allow me to share with you one of the most devastating memories I have of our life at that time. It was one of the few occasions that we as children were allowed to see my mother’s pain, allowed to see her wounded. Things were always tight financially and around that time our roof badly needed repairs. My mother approached the church, for some sheets of roofing that were lying around unoccupied on the church compound to assist with repairs to our home. The person responsible for the roofing sheets said to my mother “There are no free lunches in life.” Needless to say, we did not receive the sheets.

As I peruse the scripture, I notice that God was very much concerned about social justice and those who were disenfranchised by the circumstances of life. Some of these are Malachi 3:5, Deuteronomy 15 and James 1:27, just to list a few.

The Israelites were commanded to seek after the welfare of each member of their society. This was not an option. Deuteronomy 15:7 and 8 says”…do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your poor brother. Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs.” There was a concern for every member of the community. The statement that the fellow church member made to my mother years aback has to some degree haunted me since then as it is in direct contradiction to the statues God has given. The sense of community and collective responsibility to the less fortunate is crucial to the growth and prosperity of the church community (James 1:27, Micah 6:8). We can sing songs of deliverance, claim and decree and declare in our worship but if we are not obedient to God’s word, how can the church experience genuine, godly success and blessing? (1 Cor 13)

I thank God that my mother was a fighter; she was resilient, determined and faithful to God. Things may have turned out very different for us as a family if she wasn’t. My sisters and I have not, by the grace of God, followed the script written for us by society as children of a broken home with a single-parent divorced mother. As a family we strive to be intentional in our support and encouragement of each other as we celebrate our successes and failures in the different stages and milestones of life. We love tangibly.

It is my earnest prayer that we the church do some introspection and with the Spirit’s enablement, intentionally and lovingly meet the needs of those around us and become the community that God intended.

4 replies
  1. Sharon B
    Sharon B says:

    Totally agree. I too experienced the ungodly behavior of the church to my abusive marriage and eventually divorced. I and my child were treated as lepers. But thank God for placing people in my life who demonstrated the love and patience of God.

    Reply
    • Stephen John
      Stephen John says:

      Hi, Sharon. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read and also leaving a comment. Yes, it is a difficult thing to experience and there are many today that are still experiencing it. As you said we are thankful God is able to place people around us and use his spirit to work on healing us.

      Reply
  2. Andre Archer
    Andre Archer says:

    My mother was talented. She believed in service and gave of her talents in administration freely to any assembly she attended. She was promoted many times within these churches to position held by prominent wives or men. I believe she was incredibly dedicated because she thought that one, she would someday be accepted for the content of her heart and her God given abilities, and two, someday she might actually be loved by someone who will make her his wife and me his son.

    She could not escape her past though. At every turn, in every assembly, there was someone to remind her that she was a divorcee with a son who didn’t know his father from Adam. That for her to be loved by a Christian man her sexuality and status was her only worth and that her son was a liability that she would have to deny.

    She never capitulated and this was her strength. Although she passed away depressed, heartbroken and alone, no visible friend from any church, she was the strongest woman ever created. Living or dead. Although terribly broken she protected her son and in turn her legacy. I love her.

    Reply
    • Stephen John
      Stephen John says:

      Wow, thanks for sharing this Andre. I am sorry to hear about your experience. Your mother sounds like an amazing woman that left a great legacy in you. I pray you continue to heal and grow.

      Bless

      Reply

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