I don’t know what shame you struggle with that defines your life. This is for you. This is especially for the single parents. I wish for your shame to end. I wish for your story to be defined by bravery.
We have this story of the early years of King Solomon. It is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28. The story feels like it was told as a way to show how wise Solomon was. Here was this one difficult situation and Solomon found a brilliant way to find the resolve.
I’m sure there were many instances of Solomon’s wisdom to choose from but this one story is the one that made the cut.
Which is why I find it interesting that the one story chosen is the story about two unmarried women with children who were called prostitutes. Maybe they were. Maybe they were because they did not have a safe place because they were simply women.
Women, when in ancient history have we ever been in the position to be able to make sexual choices for our lives? Or financial choices? Or social choices?
The options for women back then were to stay in your father’s house, marry (generally not for love but from an agreement made by men), or prostitution. Every option was for a woman to be someone’s property.
These two women did not have many options already. Then they got pregnant by men who were absentee fathers. It is so relatable that they are housemates with each other. Because the budget struggle is real! Even back in these Old Testament days. Or maybe they were living in the red district together.
They were both single mothers raising their newborns together. Until one baby died. I’m sure their living conditions were not all that safe.
This case gained them an audience with the renowned King Solomon. I’m sure they were quite used to not being seen, whether from the passing crowds or from their own families or from the men who came to visit them. Now here they were being seen and heard by the king himself.
This thought from this Sunday school story is overwhelmingly big. They were seen. I believe this also means that you are seen by the Larger Story God.
Shame likes to keep you small and unseen. You know the decisions you’ve made. You know how you justified those decisions. You believe there is no way you are worthy to bring your problem to God or to ask God how to get out of this mess. These are the lies shame loves to tell you.
Lie! This is who God is! He sees you. God’s movement towards us is redeeming the shame. Wherever shame is redeemed, you will see God’s fingerprint.
I have met the truest version of God in the redemption of my pain.
There is another Old Testament story of Hagar, the rejected single mother of Abraham’s first born. Genesis 16. Abraham’s wife did plenty to heap shame onto Hagar, even though Sarah set up the vulnerable Hagar to be in this situation. Again, women had so little say-so over their lives. At Hagar’s low point of being pregnant and full of shame while suffering in the desert because she was on the run, she met God.
What did Hagar name God after this encounter of being seen in her shame?
Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”Genesis 16:13
You are seen by the King.
In that seeing, pour out your every bit of pain. All of it. God is not shocked by you.
King Solomon heard both sides of the case and then he asks the one question that reveals each woman’s deepest motivation.
What is your deepest motivation?
Even you, single parent: what is your deepest motivation?
You get to answer that question and the King will hear you and use the Larger Story wisdom to give that to you.
Yes, even you.
You may think this is just an Old Testament Sunday school story. But when have you heard a Sunday school story about two single parents? Or about a king who asked those single parents their deepest motivation? And then the king does the right thing for that single parent?
Yes, even for you.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. Psalm 18:16
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6