Hi. My name is Aaron. I’m a part-time Student Ministry Pastor, and a full-time employee of an insulation company. I enjoy doing things like traveling, watching movies, going on hikes and adventures, and spending time with friends and the people I care about. I am a father to 4 children whom I love and am so proud of. And oh yea…I’m a single dad.
I just shared several things about me that give you an idea of who I am. Things that are true of me.
All of those things that are true of me now were just as true of me before I became a single dad.
But being a single dad can easily overshadow all of those things. It’s as if my status as a single dad has become my main identity, and everything else is secondary. That can easily happen in my own eyes…yes, it’s hard some days to not let that one aspect of my life overshadow everything else…as well as in the eyes of others, especially to those who knew me before that was added to my list.
However the truth is simply this…I am the same Aaron I was before I became a single dad. My life may look different, and I may have changed in some ways (life has a way of maturing us like that), but I’m still me.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you’ve seen me share several things about my life. One thing I’ve considered sharing for a long time now is a blog about me being divorced and what I struggle with. Not so I can vent, but so I can help others see and recognize what it’s like.
I have to admit that before I was a single dad, I wouldn’t have seen or recognized many of the things I’m going to share. This new life I now lead has brought a whole new world into my view. And being a pastor, I believe that often the church just isn’t sure how to handle those of us who are divorced (talking the whole church in general).
But we as the church need to know how to see and recognize these things, same as we do someone who is hurting from loss of a loved one or having financial struggles or dealing with an addiction or any other difficulty life brings. We as the church need to know how to reach out to and treat those who are single parents and in broken families. Now more than ever because it is becoming more and more normal. It may not be the way God intended families to work…we could say that about a lot of different things in this life by the way…but that doesn’t change his love for people caught in that life, and thus the church needs to love and connect with people living that life.
So allow me to take a few moments and share a few confessions of a single dad…
- I often feel like I’m a part-time dad. I see my kids on weekends, and for special events. And this year I had them for the week of Christmas, which was awesome to have them in my home for such a long period of time. However, I don’t have them every day. So I don’t get to see them or talk to them or interact with them every day like I would want to. I know the truth is that I’m not a part-time dad, but I feel that way.
- The hardest times for me are when I have to say goodbye to my kids again. Taking them home Sunday evenings is hard. Taking them home after having them for a week for Christmas was really hard. It’s been 4 years since this became a part of my life, and I still haven’t gotten used to saying goodbye to them.
- I feel lonely quite often. I go home from work each day to an empty house. The other day we worked a long day, and my boss asked me on the ride home if I minded working longer hours. I responded and said no, because it’s either work or go home and be alone. Even when I go out and do things, I always end up going home to an empty house. And that is hard.
- I want to be treated like a normal person. One of the hardest things is feeling like everyone sees me as a divorced man. Yes, I’m divorced…not something I wanted or planned, but I am. However, I’m also a man. And I want to be treated as a man. I want to have friends invite me out to eat or for a drink, or to a movie. I want to be included in the things other people are included in. I may not always be able to make it…but I still want to be thought of and invited. I also want my kids and I to be invited to family functions. We may be a broken family, but we are still a family and enjoy interacting with other families.
- I can’t afford things like most people in my age range can. I work a lot, 2 jobs actually, so you’d think that I have plenty of expendable income. But I pay child support to ensure my kids are well cared for even when I don’t have them. And I want to do that…I want to know my kids are well cared for. So I’m not complaining. But it’s hard when everything I am invited to costs money…or when people ask why I can’t do things I want to, and I have to come up with some excuse so I don’t have to say I can’t afford it. And when I do decide to spend money on something special, it means I am making a sacrifice somewhere else (for me personally, it’s often a sacrifice on buying groceries)
I don’t share these things for you to feel bad for me. PLEASE DO NOT! We all have things in life that are difficult. I’m not operating under any assumption that my life is hard and yours is easy. You could share confessions with me as well, same as I am with you. And quite frankly, you should be able to…we should all be able to share confessions like this with each other. Especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Sharing these things helps us understand what someone else is going through. And that’s the point. We as the body of Christ are to reach out to and minister to others, and it’s hard to do so if we don’t know where they are at or what they are going through.
I shared what I did to give you a little insight into me, as well as to be an advocate for divorced and single parents in the church and world today. As I shared earlier, this is becoming more and more common in our culture. And we as the church need to learn to see and recognize it, because too often those who are living this life feel disconnected from the church. I’ve been in church my whole life, I’ve been a pastor for 15 years, and there are times I feel that way too because of my divorce.
My prayer is that we as the church don’t just pity those who are divorced and single parents, but that we recognize the specific struggles they face, while at the same time still treat them like normal people.
My divorce, and being a single dad, does not define me. God does. He defines me as his beloved child, a man whom he created and loves and sent his son Jesus to die for because he desires a relationship with me. And this is just as true after my divorce as it was before my divorce. He knows what I’m going through, he sees it. But it doesn’t change who I am in his eyes. So it shouldn’t change who I am in my eyes or in yours either.
To the church… as we try to follow after God in this life, as we seek to Simply Follow Jesus, may we strive to get to know people for who they are. May we want to know what their life is like, what they like and what struggles they face. May we desire to reach out to everyone, even those who don’t fit into the mold of a traditional family. God loves those who are caught in that life. So may we as the church choose to love families and individuals who are not in a traditional family setting, because we know that God does.
To all those who are divorced and single parents… as we try to follow after God in this life, as we seek to Simply Follow Jesus, may we strive to be real and honest (not complaining…but open). May we want to help others who are in the same life we are in, but may we also be a good example of reaching out to others who have different struggles. And may we always remember that God loves us for who we are, regardless of our current life circumstances.
May God be glorified, and may the church as a whole be strengthen and encouraged and challenged.