Chap 2 – Backstory: Functional Poverty, Single Parenting, and Sacrifice

Functional Poverty

The divorce came when Sharon was 3.  Sharon and I lived in what I call “functional poverty.” We had food, clothing, and shelter but little more.  I was paid per page for ridiculously long hours transcribing medical dictation. Those extra hours disqualified us for government aid, but we would have had less otherwise.

So, I was grateful my friends in Al-Anon had told me to prepare for a job that would support the two of us. The certificate I earned in medical transcribing, plus piano-fast fingers and solid command of English meant I produced medical transcription — fast.

I sincerely gave the marriage my very best for one year after my husband sobered up, as my Al-Anon friends also advised. But the divorce happened anyway.

SIngle Parent Work Hours Can Be Long
SIngle Parent Work Hours Can Be Long

By God’s great grace, I was able to pick Sharon up from daycare and bring her back to the office with me many weekday evenings so I could keep typing.  After she grew up, she told me never to feel bad about those years when I had to work so many hours.  Sharon said had  been just the right age to relish the freedom to putter around the small office, sitting at an empty desk and drawing or making houses with ribbon boxes (yes, we used typewriters back then!)

Some nights, I lugged that huge IBM Selectric home, along with my Dorland’s medical dictionary tome and transcribing machine.  I set it all up on a flimsy cardtable and played with Sharon from about six  to her bedtime at nine, and then typed (fueld on coffee and cigarettes and desperation) until one or two in the morning before rising at six to start anther day.

All during those seven years, I was grateful each day, even before I knew Jesus, that I could make enough money to give Sharon what she needed and be consciously with her each hour she was not in school or daycare.

Single Parenting Done Right Requires Great Sacrifice

The biggest lesson I learned in those first few years of single parenting was that, done right, single parenting required nearly all of my time as well as nearly all my physical and emotional energy. I hugged the comfort of the “Little House on the Prairie” series of books to my heart.  I identified with the hard-working parents in those stories.  I especially thought of my own loving, hard-working father.  I felt just like him. And that made me happy deep inside every single morning.

All Good Parenting Requires Sacrifice. . . and Love
All Good Parenting Requires Sacrifice. . . and Love

The extra sacrifice is necessary because it is God’s plan for two adults to raise children.  When there is only one parent, they bear a double burden.

God Shows Special Concern for the Poor, the Orphan, and the Widow

Throughout the Bible, you will find verses where God instructs His people to watch out for and help those who are poor and those who are orphans and those who are widows.

He sees people in trouble and hardship and He commands those of His followers who have more to make some personal sacrifices to help those with less.  Those sacrifices include not only finances but personal time and energy, just like the Wexel family did for Sharon and for me.  Where would we have been without their obedience to God?

Joining and attending a Bible-belieiving church will bring you friends who will help, although do not count on them or the church to be perfect!  They are just as human as you, but at least some of them will be on the lookout to help those who need help and those who are hurting.

One thing you can count on as surely as you can count on the sun rising in the east tomorrow morning:  if you give your heart to God and follow His ways, He will take care of you and your family, somehow, some way.

Deutoronomy 31, verse 6 in the New International Version reassures us:  “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid of or terrified by them [your enemies, which include non-human ones such as poverty loss of hope, etc. – explanation added] for the LORD, your God goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.”

Listen to this song by Curt Collins and be encouraged, dear one!


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