Living Water was born when I (Elise Photini) read Melinda Johnson’s first call in the Ancient Faith Ministries outreach group on Facebook for us single moms and dads to share what we wanted the church to know about our struggles in a blog post. I confess I was wary at first. After so long struggling in invisibility I wondered what might take place if we were “outed.” And I further confess that I was quite sure, in my weakness, that nothing would truly change… After all, what can one blog post do?
For years I’ve felt the aloneness, the ostracizing and the need to remain faithful despite the stings of personal experiences within the church. For several years I managed a very private (so private as to be truly invisible) Facebook group for Orthodox Christian single moms and dads where we carefully vetted every member, kept strict confidentiality and literally poured our hearts out to each other.
But over time “just” venting wasn’t enough for me. I longed to elevate our eyes to the healing, wholeness and miracles all around us. Miracles that we so easily dismiss in the daily struggle of it all.
And, along with this desire came an equally strong longing to share our struggles with our wider church family who often had ostracized us out of their own cluelessness, confusion and worries not necessarily out of malice.
So when Melinda had sent out a call for our collective responses to “What do Single Parents Want The Church To Know?” I was wary at first but then I recalled the gazillion times I’ve been confronted with “if you don’t like something DO SOMETHING about it” and so I wrote to her. I explained that I so loved her heart to see us and hear us and yet…. Yet. We need our own voice.
Might we have a place at the table? Might single moms and dads share our struggles and our victories in a way that invites our entire church family to struggle in prayer with us? Was there a way to reach out and reach up all at the same time?
When this heart-cry was heard by the Ancient Faith board I was shocked and my bluff was called and suddenly—here we are!
A Living Water blog beginning
As the first pages and posts were coming together in my heart I quickly saw that a “second set of eyes” and another heart to guide and pray along with me was essential. Not that my voice alone isn’t enough, but that a very real aspect to speaking out alone on sensitive and emotional themes—in a public forum especially—leaves me vulnerable.
Plus, I have always longed for the balancing uniqueness that comes from a dad in the picture. It’s part of the extra-struggle those of us single moms raising children without any co-parenting share—and the same for single-dads raising children without a co-parenting mom in the picture. While it’s taking me a couple paragraphs to write, this awareness was instantaneous and I immediately thought of David Dean who has been a gentle, safe, and clear voice for the struggle from a single dad’s perspective in my Facebook group for years now.
David here. When Elise first approached me about becoming her coauthor I was both honored and shocked. As I prayed about whether to accept or not, it became more and more clear how needed this blog was, how much of a blessing it could be not only for the Church and the single parents within her, but for me as well. For years I have struggled, and often continue to struggle, with feeling isolated and alone. I found a haven in Elise’s Facebook group, but it was and still is difficult sometimes to share my own struggles. So often, men are encouraged to keep their problems to themselves, and as a result, single fathers have an especially hard time finding a voice for prayer or the ability to ask for support. I pray that this blog will help change that perception, and that God will help me as I support other single fathers in sharing our voices.
Together we pray and praise
Together we hope and ask that you pray for each of us, and for this ministry, as we shape the Living Water blog into a safe place for single mothers and single fathers to share prayers and praises with the rest of our Orthodox family. We pray that as we lift our hearts to heaven together our walk will depend and strengthen all of us within the Church.