Today’s post comes from one of the winners of the Her.meneutics Summer Writing Contest, responding to the question, “What do you wish the local church knew?” Winning entries will appear on the site each Wednesday through Labor Day. –Kate

Next Sunday as you take your seat at church, scan the pew. Do you see her?

She’s the one holding three jobs, despite being racked by the pain of abuse. Or the one overcome with shame from having a child out of wedlock. Or the one who entered the US illegally for a better life, though she still lives in poverty. The one widowed with four children. The one who was raped or trafficked, and kept the child. The one who never dreamed she’d be divorced.

America is home to approximately 15 million single moms. A recent Census Bureau report states that a quarter of US kids are being raised without a father, and half of those live below the poverty line.

That mom was my mom. She became a single mother when I was 17. Married young, she suffered verbal and physical abuse. She fought to establish herself financially and eventually filed for divorce. Once single, she continued to care for her three children, while working hard to advance her income and skills.

Women like her are all around us, as we know from the statistics and news headlines, but sometimes, it feels like they are invisible. The kids remain well-dressed and well-fed. They come to church. And Mom shows no sign of distress beneath her stiff upper lip.

The problem is, if we don’t recognize these families and their needs (both practically and spiritually), we probably won’t hear about them otherwise. In my experience serving in women’s ministries, single moms are among the ...

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