Monday, December 15, 2014

Single mothers are not "alone mothers"

I know lots of single mothers. I'm beginning to think that the name "single mother" is a misnomer.  Sure single mom's don't have the father around to help, but they are not "alone moms". They usually have parents, and often even support from the "in-laws" of the MIA outlaw dad.  My daughter was a "single mother".  We walked with her through the pregnancy and birth of our grandson, and for the first 10 years of his life we lived together. My daughter is incredibly courageous and a great mom, but she didn't have to do it all by herself.

I'm thinking about single moms because I've been reading the Christmas story. Today I read some more about Mary's reaction to the news that she was going to have a baby. When I first read this story I was wearing my personal and cultural glasses: I filtered the story through my own experience. That's a dangerous thing to do. I assumed that Mary was a frightened teenage mother, who runs to her auntie Elizabeth because she has nowhere else to go. The angel told her that tidbit of gossip about Elizabeth being pregnant. (Sorry Gabriel, okay its not gossip. When you're 6 months along, everyone knows. Except Mary). It's wonderful that God gave her one person who would understand her situation and be there for her if needed. Why did Mary go to see Elizabeth? Was she frightened, excited, worried, wondering how to tell Joseph her fiance? Probably all of the above.

"Why?" questions are somewhat dangerous when studying the Bible because often the motives & purposes are not explicitly stated. If they are then great. "For God so loved the world" is pretty clear about his motive for giving his son, but often scripture doesn't tell us why people or God do what they do. If the scripture doesn't say clearly, then it's best to not ascribe motives. The truth is: we don't always know.

I assumed that Mary went to see Elizabeth because she is frightened, upset and worried about being pregnant in a culture where being a single mom would have meant a death sentence if the Romans overlords had allowed it. I want to read Mary's story through the filter of my modern life story, but that is a mistake. We need to read the story with fresh eyes, laying aside our cultural and personal biases. Let it say what it says. Being aware of your personal "filters" and laying them aside will help you hear God's voice when you read scripture. Part of Rest in Bible Study is to become aware of yourself and your own biases and emotional landscape.

Read & Reflect
"A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord."  Luke 1.39-46
Nothing is this passage or the following song of praise indicates that Mary was frightened or worried. On the contrary, she seems excited and joyful about being chosen by God to give birth to the Savior. There is not a hint of fear or worry in this story. I want to put them there because of my family's experience, but that would putting something into the story that is not there.

If Mary was looking for reassurance from Elizabeth, then she was not disappointed. 3 times she uses the word "blessed", says she is "honored" to have Mary, the mother of her Lord, there in her home. Whatever doubts Mary may have had, Elizabeth's reaction would have reassured her greatly.

Respond

Lord, thank you that you gave Mary someone to talk to about her pregnancy and the extraordinary things you were doing in her life. Thank you that you've provided people to help and support single moms and their kids. Please help the many Arrow ladies who are single moms. Thank you for the family members who are helping care for their children while they provide for the family. Encourage and help them today. Protect the children and help them to know that they are loved and treasured. It's comforting to know that even the Virgin Mary needed someone to talk to. You're so gracious to provide us with friends and family who can help us when we don't know what to do or where to turn.  Amen