If we are being honest with ourselves, we all have at one point or another passed judgment on someone else based on how they look. Whether you’ve seen a homeless man on the street, and thought to yourself, “man drugs can really ruin your life.” Or seeing a divorced woman alone raising her children, and assuming that her husband must have done something awful in order for her to leave her marriage. We don’t know their stories, yet we are willing to quickly pass judgment from time to time. This story I want to talk about today, is about how someone, a stranger, passed judgment on me while I was just sitting alone eating lunch with my son.
The story begins like this…
I decided to take my son to the aquarium one warm Sunday afternoon, since we frequently have something I like to call Mommy and Sondays. We walked around, looked at all the fish and other aquatic animals, then left to get some lunch on the boardwalk. As my son and I were sitting outside enjoying our food, a well-dressed man about my age, possibly in his mid 30’s, walked over and asked if he and his friend could talk to me about God. Now, on any given day, I’m sure I look a lot younger than what I am, so I’ve had people assume I was in my early 20’s and talk to me as such (meaning they felt more comfortable speaking to me with a sense of superiority). Nonetheless, I was so interested to see what he wanted to talk about, so I said, “Yes please, I would love to talk to you about God!” He excitedly pulled a chair up to our table, and a young woman followed suit. They sat down and started with asking general questions. “What’s your name, and your son’s name? Are you from around here? Have you ever been to church, or do you have a church home?” They stopped in between each one, but the questions rambled on, so I obliged by giving them minimal information, but just enough to keep the conversation flowing. I could see him taking mental inventory of my son and I, as he looked at my ring finger a few times noticing that I was not wearing a wedding band. Here we go, I thought, as he began to ask more questions about whether I had heard different stories in the bible. “So have you heard the story of the last supper? Do you know why God died for our sins?” I chuckled out loud, and told him that I had not only grown up in the church, but that I was currently still an avid church goer, so he didn’t have to talk to me as if I had never even seen the Bible. I didn’t want to be rude, but this gentleman was talking to me like I was my son’s age, 2. He continued with his speech about how different stories in the bible had deeper meanings, and how I just needed to re-read them, or read them for the first time with a “new” pair of eyes. Then he came to a point in his “message” where he said, “you seem like a smart girl, wouldn’t you like to know more about the promises that God has for you and your son?” “Well what promises would that be?” I asked, because he had once again reverted to speaking to me like I was a child. He smiled and continued. “You know I’m sure it’s hard for you being responsible for your son, and you’re probably busy taking care of him alone every day. But GOD has promises of a wonderful life for you if you just choose him and turn from your worldly ways.” I laughed again, and this time he asked why I was laughing at what he was saying. “Well I’m curious, as to what you think my life is like, and what you think I do every day? You keep saying come to God, but I’ve told you several times that I’m saved. You never asked my education level, how I lived, how much money I made, or even my employment status. So I’m trying to figure out how God isn’t already blessing me right now?” The conversation was taking a turn that I’m sure this gentleman wasn’t expecting. The young woman who came along with him, sat in obedient silence, as if she was on the same page he was, assuming that I was some low income, uneducated, single mother splurging on my son at some cheap lunch spot on a Sunday afternoon. He paused before continuing. “You’re right, but are you sure you know what it means to be saved? You may have to finish school, or have a full time job, and I’m sure taking care of your son alone is challenging. God promises you safety and security only He can give you, when you trust in his arms.” There it was again, the taking care of your son alone thing, as if he just knew what a day in my life was like. Like the HOLY spirit rained down on him and told him that I was a single mom, with no man in the picture, and that my student loan checks were keeping me afloat week after week. I started to get offended, but instead decided to offer a few words of advice to someone who clearly wasn’t as enlightened. I’ve changed his name out of respect of this disrespectful individual “Corey listen. You came over here and saw a woman sitting with a child alone, and thought here’s my chance to save a soul for Jesus Christ (in a southern accent). You saw my ring finger and noticed a ring was missing. You saw the restaurant and assumed that this was all I could afford. But you didn’t ONCE see me. You didn’t see a woman who was college educated, well-traveled, a leader in her corporate field, and a capable mother. You saw desperation, and dependency. You told a story from the bible, which you like most preachers modified for your own desires, to display a message that you hoped would lead me to join your flock. I appreciate you and Tammy for stopping by, but I don’t think I’ll be attending your services, as I can see you come from a contentious congregation that passes judgment before getting to know people. But….. I hope you all have a blessed afternoon.” I stood up, shook their hands with appreciation, and took my already anxious and busy son by the hand and we left. They sat there for another moment, then walked off looking as though they were looking for another soul to save.
We are not all the same as single parents. Some of us are single by choice, some are single by death, divorce, deception, or any other circumstance. Don’t assign us a one size fits all name tag, because it works for you. You don’t get to see me on the street and say things like “God will bless you, if…” HELLO?? God did bless me with a beautiful healthy child, and not having to put up with the day to day stresses of another parent who doesn’t have the best interest at heart for either me or my son. Single parents sometimes look at their situations as so sad, and pathetic, because that’s how society wants us to feel. I thank God each day I wake up, knowing that I have a great job where I’m able to afford an amazing life for my son and I, I can put quality food on the table, and new clothes on our backs; and if and when God sees fit to bless me even more with another parent/partner, I’m ready and willing to accept it. However I am sick of people placing labels on single parents, somehow vilifying us for where we find ourselves at this moment in time. Single does not = Solitude. We are brilliant leaders in our fields, powerful forces to be reckoned with, and yes some of us are still figuring this life thing out, but it doesn’t make us some sad charity case that calls for people to try to prey on us like victims of bad relationship hurricanes. WORRY about your own ish, before coming to save us from possibly nothing at all. I hope that one day that same man and woman, who came over to talk to me about God, but clearly had other intentions, reads this and open up their minds enough to start loving people for who they are, exactly where they are at. I look forward to the next conversation with a stranger. I also look forward to sharing my journey through my single mom stuff.
-Be the best version of YOU!-