~ By Kenneth
It was late one night while I was sitting at coffee when a mother and her two pre-teen children came in and sat down next to me. “Why isn’t dad here yet?” asked one of the children. “Because your father is not dependable, he never was when we were—-” the mother stopped herself and bit her tongue. A look of sadness swept across her face and I could tell that she already regretted what she had said, and although I’m sure she wanted to vent more of her frustrations out; she realized it was better not to bash the children’s father.
The mother and the children sat next to me for a half-hour and the father had still not shown up. Finally she got her cell phone out and called him, “Where are you? You were supposed to pick up the kids more than an hour ago!” While I couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation, it was quickly apparent that the father had forgotten it was ‘his weekend’ to have the children. The mid-30ish mother’s face filled with rage as she listened to her ex-husband explain why he had forgotten when finally she hung up on him and told the children they were going to go back home. The daughter started crying, “I want to see dad”. I was at a coffee house that served donuts and the barista working behind the counter saw the crying child and was gracious enough to bring over a couple complimentary donuts.
They left the coffee house and I felt like crying myself.
Over the course of the past 15 years there have always been single mothers in my neighborhood. And in nearly every one of those cases the mothers have been overloaded with the responsibility of child rearing, making meals, cleaning the house, getting to work on time, getting the children to school on time….and all the other entanglements that life in a household of children entails.
I’m not going to say that every father out there is a dead-beat-dad; that is definitely not the case. I know many good fathers who have centered their lives on the wellbeing of their children. Unfortunately, I know of many instances where the fathers have simply walked out on the family….and perhaps I am wrong, but it seems that throughout the course of human history it is more likely for us to find a father that skips out on the family than a mother.
Being a single mother is beyond difficult. It drives me nuts that the churches I have attended throughout my life do so little for single mothers in the community. If you ask me, it should be mandatory that every church in the Western World first make sure that the single mothers in their community are being cared for before they delegate money to be sent to far-a-way places or for expensive vacations for their priests and pastors.
But what does it mean to ‘care for single mothers’? Honestly, it’s not as difficult as it sounds;
—) For many single mothers, a neighbor who volunteers to watch the children once a week for free can feel like a million dollars
—) A friend who comes over for two hours every other day to help with the cleaning can be awesome
—-) A friend who takes the children out for walks to the park can become a great role model and help to the children
—-) A neighbor who invites the mother and her children over for meals multiple times throughout the week can end up making a positive impact in their lives that will last a lifetime
Having worked as a volunteer for numerous organizations I fear that we sometimes have a tendency to think that in order to make a difference in the world we have to join an organization…yet that’s not necessarily the case. While volunteer organizations are great; they have their own limitations. And there is no organization in the world that can replace the simple human act of reaching out to our neighbors and friends and demonstrating love and grace.
So much of the Western World is designed around programs. I’ve visited some churches that have so many programs going on they publish a monthly newsletter so you can keep track of all of them. I fear though, that in our love of programs and organizations we have forgotten the simple act of being human; of remembering the humans that live next door to us and treating them with love and grace.
This past week all my articles have been focused on the people without faces; the people who we live next door to, stand next to at the grocery store, and walk by on our way to work…..yet we never really see who they are…..I’ve taken a risk this week in losing readers who may grow tired of this theme.
Even though I was raised in a Christian home….most of my Christianity was misguided as I was taught that rules, theology, head knowledge, and bible study were the most important elements of my faith. I was taught that baby Christians drank milk…but mature Christians ate meat; and the meat was all about being the smartest most intellectual Christian who had memorized the most bible verses………I am embarrassed and ashamed at the Christian attitude I demonstrated for so much of my life.
It wasn’t until the last few years when I went back and looked only at the life of Jesus that I realized what true Christianity really was; it is hanging out with the poor, it is caring for the neglected, it is caring for the orphans, it is hanging out with the sick, spending time with prisoners, defending the defenseless…….
True Christianity is not about being a bible thumper and trying to convert everyone to belief in Christianity……It’s about giving a face to the faceless. It’s about restoring the humanity of the downtrodden and reminding the world that the people at the bottom are every bit as relevant and important as the people at the top. There is a reason that Jesus spent his whole life with the people at the bottom…..and there is a reason that whenever Jesus was with the people at the top; he attacked their lack of love and hypocrisy.
Hopefully in my quest to put a face on the faceless…..my blog doesn’t suffer a slow death of irrelevance. For now I will have another cup of coffee.
Categories: People Without Faces