"Miss Lowe, your pregnancy test is positive." The first thought that ran through my mind was, I'm not married! What I felt that day ran the gamut of emotions. What will I say to my mother? How will I provide for my child? What will the pastor think of me?
My concerns were not unfounded. There was a time in many Holiness and Pentecostal churches when unwed mothers were told they had to stand before the church, confess their behavior to the congregation and ask for forgiveness.
If a woman was a single mom because of divorce, she was not permitted to serve in ministry and was told to remain silent in the church. However, congregants who had other challenges in their lives were never made to come forward.
The home and church situations weren't my only concerns. I was just two months away from college graduation.
Nevertheless, when I prayed, God spoke to me just as He did to Hagar. Valerie, you will have a little girl, you are to name her "Faith," and that's what you will live by. The word from God that day settled the issue in my mind and gave me peace in my heart.
Though God permitted Abraham to send his firstborn child away, He never abandoned the outcasts. If you are a single mother, you can trust God to walk alongside you and, when necessary, to carry you.
Faith, Not Fear
Noted author and Christian child psychologist James Dobson wrote a book titled Parenting Isn't for Cowards. When I first read the title, I thought it was a bit strong. But Dobson is right. Parenting, including single parenting, isn't for people who shun their responsibilities or are afraid to meet the challenges of raising children.
The Bible says Hagar wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. Located in the southernmost part of Judah, Beersheba was a desert that still exists today. Its name means "well of oath" and "seventh well," indicating that its function is to be a constant source.
Hagar was frightened at the prospect of losing her son to the wilderness, just as single moms are fearful of losing their children to this world. Scripture says she placed Ishmael "a good way off" and said, "Let me not see the death of the child" (Gen. 21:16, KJV). She then turned her back to him and cried.
Can you identify with Hagar as I do? The pressures of this world are enough to leave even the most committed single mom distraught! But take heart. God has given us a command to "fear not."
Today, single moms are fearful for a number of reasons. Divorced women are afraid they will lose custody of their children. Some moms are afraid their children will not have the opportunity to go to college. Others are concerned that their children will take a wrong turn in life.
Oftentimes, our problems and situations are overwhelming; the odds seem stacked against us. For instance, the Census Bureau reports that children from single-parent homes are twice as likely to drop out of high school before they turn 18 as children from two-parent homes and 2.5 times as likely to have children out of wedlock. Such statistics indicate that single moms are currently one of the fastest- growing demographic groups in the church.
Single parenting takes faith, trust in God and action. When Hagar cried out to God, He "opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink" (v. 19). God provided a well of water for her and Ishmael. That well represented His never-ending commitment to single mothers and their children.
Raising a Great Nation
God has given all parents the unique opportunity and special privilege of raising children who will love and serve Him. It is our responsibility to fulfill our duties as parents so that God can make of them a great nation (see Gen. 21:18).
The angel of the Lord told Hagar to "lift up" the child. It takes commitment and hard work to help our children reach their purpose and destiny in life.
When I was in the sixth grade, I talked a lot. I would lock myself in the bathroom and render what I thought were award-winning speeches to a make-believe audience. My mother would sometimes get tired of my jabbering and insist that I stop talking so much.
Later she would come back and tell me how God was going to use me to spread His Word. As a journalist with Charisma magazine, I'm fulfilling my mother's words partly because she "lifted" me up and spoke into my life.
If our children are to rise up and be effective, we must take strategic steps to nurture them.
I believe the most powerful tool in impacting our children for Christ is prayer. During my years as a high school teacher, I learned that single parenting was a key factor in a child's being at risk to drop out of school.