The Greek term translated ‘widow’ (chera) means ‘bereft’ and conveys a sense of suffering loss or being left alone. The term does not tell us how a woman became a widow and, therefore the cause is not limited to a husband’s death. – John MacArthur (Caring for Widows)
Twice last week, at separate times, I heard the same question out of two different ladies’ mouths. This post has been in my notes for something to write about for weeks, but it hit me even harder when I heard these ladies say, “did you ever feel shunned by your church community? Or left out of social activities? And have a hard time making new friends?”
My answer to them was, yes! And it wasn’t just from one or two people either. It seems to be a collective societal whole that shuns the innocent victims of this world. We tend to shun those who are left. Those who are dealt with evil blows (like Job). Maybe out of fear that we too will “catch” what they got!
We really don’t support singles in our world, even though “singles now outnumber married people in America.” Often, single ladies are asked, “when are you going to get married?” Divorcees are often asked, “when are you going to start dating again?” (sometimes while hinting they know this guy) – long before she and her kids have healed and are whole again.
Just a piece of divorce knowledge: it usually takes 1 year for every 3 years of marriage for someone – female or male – to fully heal from their divorce and become whole and healthy.
And there is nothing wrong with being single, really?!
Because no person is capable of “completing” you. That’s just a line that is made up for dramatization, in movies.
It takes two whole people to make a healthy relationship. Not two incomplete people. I would never want to be with someone out of “need” (physical or financial) – that’s called codependency. (Abusers slowly guide their targets/victims into that place of dependency. Most times, financially trapping them so that they are unable to leave.) I’ve already been there. Now I choose to stay single.
Great men and women of the Bible were single. And I don’t recall them ever feeling shunned for their singleness. Their life was full of ministry (Widow Naomi, Prophetess Anna, Jesus, Paul, Mary and Martha, and more). They were complete in the Lord.
But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. Yet each person has a special gift from God, of one kind or another. So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. – 1 Corinthians 7:7-8 NLT
[You May Also Enjoy: Divorce Does Not Make You a Failure]
What can we do to help widows/singles and orphans?
1.) Accept singles and singleness. Be more accepting when a single mom comes into your church or community group. Don’t shun her. Don’t automatically assume she is/was the sinner (don’t be like Job’s friends and point the finger at her – throw out the idea of “it takes two to tango” when speaking about her marriage break-up or for her choice to remain single – it may not be her fault). Don’t push her to date or push her onto men that she may not be interested in. Not all women want to date the first guy that comes along (some women have higher standards than that). Some are not ready, or they prefer to take care of their hurting children first. And some women want to wait until God brings a man into her life, naturally (skipping all those scuzzy dating sites). And most single women (at least those with a Christian worldview) are not interested in your husband (personally, I remember the old saying “marry a man who cheats on his wife, be married to a man who cheats on his wife“)… so feel free to allow him to lovingly accept the widow and orphans too. Invite her and/or her kids along to social gatherings. She may not always feel like the “third wheel.”
2.) Invite the widow (and her children, if any) to be a part of your family. Don’t be afraid to spend time with a widow and/or her children. This will speak volumes of your love for her and your trust in her. This will also let her know that you don’t think she is contagious in her “singleness” condition. She may just be seeking a Titus 2 Mentor (I’m working on a post about this) or to know someone cares for and loves her. Plus she may be less tempted to get on those dating sites looking for the wrong kind of love, if she has plenty of loved ones in her life, already!
I’ve had several married couples who have welcomed me – while single – and my kids into their homes for holidays and just everyday life. This is how I’ve been blown away with answers to prayers for “family” when I have very few on this earth. When they tell me that they love me and my kids, I believe it. They’ve shown us storge and phileo love when there was no one else. I have no need to find “love” in the wrong places because I have plenty with the loved ones that I already have.
Take care of [honor] any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. Now a true widow, a woman who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. She prays night and day, asking God for His help. But the widow who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives. Give these instructions to The Church so that no one will be open to criticism. – 1 Timothy 5:3-7 NLT
3.) Do not make empty promises to single moms (widows) or her kids. Most divorced (single) women and their children are healing from the abandonment of their spouse and father, who promised, “until death do us part,” (possibly more empty promises). Do not tell them “let me know what you need” if you don’t plan to actually fill any of those needs. Don’t offer to do something or to be there unless you fully intend to keep that promise. Making an empty promise out of “kindness” (in your mind) or to make her feel better (in the moment), only hurts this family, when they don’t see the actions backing up words.
Do not mistreat widows or orphans. If you do, they will beg for my help, and I will come to their rescue. – Exodus 22:22-23 CEV
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1:27 NLT
4.) If you want to help, then offer specific help, instead of a blanket statement of “let me know what you need.” If you can only pick her up for a social event, then do it. If you can only offer financial assistance then give her gift cards (groceries or gasoline) and/or for ways they can have fun together as a family. If you can only cook a meal or two, then do it. A bag of groceries or a care package? I’m sure she’ll feel blessed. If you can only offer to babysit, then let her know when you are available. Can you take her kids when you take your’s someplace? Can you have her kids over for a playdate while she works or does something for herself?
Most single moms do not have a luxury of a huge support system that offers child care and/or financial support. So, most times, any help or support that you can offer is very much appreciated.
But as the believers [disciples of the early church] rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. – Acts 6:1 NLT [Read on in Acts 6 about how the early church fixed this problem.]
5.) Ask her what her biggest needs are right now, and if you can’t immediately help, then pray with her for God’s provisions. Her needs may be something that you cannot fix. She may know that no one can fix these needs or wants. But your prayers will mean the world to her during this difficult time. And when God fixes these needs and/or wants, then she will remember who was on her side praying with her.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. – 1 Timothy 2:1 NLT
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. – James 5:16
[You may also enjoy: Am I Being Punished for My Divorce]
Share how you’ve been blessed by others.
Walking with you on this journey,
Megan C. says
Beautiful. Sharing on Give Her Wings.
Jen Grice says
Thank you, Megan! You are such a sweet friend. So glad to have met you. 🙂
Rachelle P. says
I recently have been thinking about how Christians no longer feel the need to take care of each other, like the way it was done in the church of Paul and Peter’s time. Did Jesus not tell John to take care of Mary?
Speaking of boundaries, taking care of widows, and respecting our parents, my mother is all alone, but strife comes with her. Now she’s called me for help, but I can’t help because my husband is unemployed so we need my income. I feel caught between a rock and a hard place.
Jen Grice says
I agree Rachelle. We as Christians are called to help each other. And a lot of people tend to store up wealth for themselves, forgetting that it all belongs to God.
As far as boundaries with your mom, that’s a tough one. But it’s still respectful to say, I will not be around you if you are going to continue to stir up strife. It’s healthy for you and her to have boundaries with anyone like that. We cannot control other people but we can decide what we will and will not tolerate in our own lives.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” ~ Romans 12:18 NIV
We live in a “couples world” and so it can be tough being single, especially for those of us who were once married and are now divorced single mamas. But I really believe there is a gift in this season and those who rush off to get hitched without letting God lead the way often end up divorced and hurting again. I pray that every single mama can just rest in God and trust Him with her future!
Keep sharing God’s truth!
Jen Grice says
So true! But we shouldn’t walk with the crowd, as the LORD has set us apart. I agree, this is a gift and we shouldn’t throw it away to please those who say, “you should get back out there.” Thank you for your prayers! Glad to have you along on this journey to healing.