29 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the people of the east. 2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying there beside it; for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3 and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well, and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?” They said, “We do.” 6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” “Yes,” they replied, “and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with the sheep.” 7 He said, “Look, it is still broad daylight; it is not time for the animals to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” 8 But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them. 10 Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father.
13 When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob[a] told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
It’s good to have the support of our family, not just our parents and siblings but also our extended family, like aunts uncles and cousins; as single parents many of us have found the help and concern of family members to be invaluable.
Our families often understand us better than most other people we know, and (hopefully) they can be the people we can turn to for help with our kids…from giving us an occasional break by watching them for a few hours, to providing hand-me-down clothes that help with a tight budget, or trust-worthy advice to help us out of a tight spot.
And, if we are fortunate, our families will always be there when we need them…welcoming us with open arms, like Laban did for Jacob, when he welcomed his nephew into his home in the midst of his long journey.
It does help to have this kind of family support in our lives, as it can make our burdens a little bit easier, which can give us much more time to enjoy our lives as single parents…and giving us the opportunity to share our lives and our children’s lives with those who love and care for us.
Sadly though, there are times when our family of origin is not always there for us, either due to distance or unhappy circumstance. Being cut-off from our families can be very sad, even if it is for a good reason, and it can also feel very lonely for us and for our kids, as it feel like we are missing that part of our lives. However, that is when our ‘other’ family can be of help to us, the people in our lives with whom we share friendship, support and worship: parents of our children’s friends (both single and partnered), neighbors we have grown close to, friends both old and new, and those we share worship with, as our churches can be a powerful place of support and compassion. These are the people that can become like another family to us, and to be honest, even if we are on good terms with our family of origin, often these are the people are more available, because we see them almost every day (or at least every week).
“Family” can have many different definitions for us, depending on our circumstances: it can be our family of origin, our adoptive family (for adoptees like me), the family we share with our children, our spiritual family, or those close to us who are like a family…or it could be all of the above! Regardless of who we consider ‘family’, even if that group is quite small, or far away…we are never alone! This is the good news for today: that we are all part of the family of God and can all find a welcome in God’s grace!
In this welcome we are embraced by God’s love, just as Jacob was embraced by Laban and welcomed into his household. We too are welcomed into the community of faith, and supported by those with whom we share the hope of God’s unconditional love.
With our ‘family’ close to us we can not only find the support we need to face the challenges of being single parents, we can also experience the joy of sharing the great gifts of being a single parent (such as the way we have been able to bond with our kids) with all those around us! For although we may be ‘single’ we do not raise our children alone…and for this, we can all thank God!
Let us Pray
God, thank you that we are all a part of your family…all your well-loved children! Help us to reach out to those close to us, other members of our ‘family’ for support and comfort as well as celebration and praise. Let us also be willing to comfort and support others in need, as we remember that we are never alone, and can never be separated from your love.