I sat talking with a single mom yesterday. The meeting was arranged in order for her to interview me for the graduate school recruiting department, but talk of my daughter led naturally to talk of her daughter. Her story shares themes with the lives of many single parents - complicated choices and even more complicated consequences.
She shared that her fiance lives across the country. Philosophy degrees lead to restricted job opportunities, so he went where the door opened and now sees her only once a month. Naively, I pointed out that she should be finishing up her own degree soon and could join him before long. It turns out that although she has full custody, her daughter's biological father lives nearby and Idaho laws will not allow her to move with her daughter except under very strictly defined circumstances.
Jon and I talked about this for a while, because we can see both sides here. If I were the father, I would definitely want to be close to my daughter. But it seems to me that the mother is paying an unfair price for choosing to give life to her beautiful child. A price worth paying, but still unfair. I guess we all pay for our mistakes, even when we make the best choice for dealing with the consequences.
Maybe the right thing to do would be for the biological father, assuming the fiance is a good and decent man, to rescind his legal right and allow his daughter to move away. I don't really know, and that's not actually the point I want to discuss.
What I'd really like to talk about is what I told this young lady after she shared part of her story with me: "I will pray for you."
Why do we say this? I sometimes find it hard to say, because I don't want to sound like an insincere prat. Part of me imagines them sarcastically thinking, "Great, that'll be a huge help for me." Especially when I talk to someone who could really use financial help or time. It could seem like the easy way out, instead of giving them tangible aid.
But as I was thinking about this, I realized that it is extremely important to tell people we will pray for them, what we will pray for them and Who we will be praying to. What if God is waiting for us to share this, so that He can act and show the person His glory?
Sure, we could just offer a sympathetic smile or hug and then pray sincerely for the person without telling them so. But when God answers the prayer, will they know it was Him? And isn't it more important to know God loves you and acts for you than it is to have your prayer answered, whatever that prayer may be?
Think about it.