This is the seventh installment of our reality series about Megan Dancisak, 27, and her son Ethan. She has the pleasure of raising him, and the hardship of doing so as a single mom. Read the first chapter of Dancisak’s story to find out how she chose life for her son when she had no idea how she could afford to raise him.
Two-year-old Ethan Dancisak pops out of a cardboard box propped on its side to announce “I’m making tomato!” Wearing a yellow printed T-shirt and his dinosaur undies, he marches over to his bin of plastic food to pull out some ingredients and return to his makeshift kitchen. “Where’s chicken? Where’s chicken?” he asks from inside the box. When firetrucks or police cars drive by the apartment, Ethan stops whatever he’s doing, turns his big blue eyes to his mommy and cries, “Siren!” as he runs to the window, peering for a glance of his favorite vehicles.
His mother, Megan Dancisak, loves being able to carry on conversations with Ethan now, even if sometimes his stories mix real words and phrases like “Wow, that’s so cool” and “I get yogurt at supermarket” with words of his own language. Ethan can now communicate more, letting his mother know when he need to go potty and asking “why?” when she places him in time out. They’re living in a new, cheaper apartment closer to daycare and Dancisak’s job, as well as her community group and church.
Yet even as many things change, some stay the same, like paychecks that barely stretch to cover the costs of her and her growing boy, nagging feelings of insecurity about her parenting, and the sometimes-hurtful comments she receives from well-meaning Christians. As for the latter, she’s shared a couple of topics Christians should be sensitive about while talking to single parents.
For one, she’s found that some people are quick to speak without actually understanding her situation. “It’s important to close your mouth and open your eyes and be there for [single parents] and love them rather than being condemning,” Dancisak said. Many women who face crisis pregnancies are already wracked with guilt and know their own deficiencies without others constantly reminding them.
Dancisak knows—perhaps better than most—that God’s design for a family includes a father, yet because of her past disobedience to God, her family doesn’t have one. While she’s found forgiveness in Christ for her past actions, she still faces the consequences. She has a decision to make: either to continue in disobedience by finding any man—regardless of his character—to join her family, or waiting on what God has in store.
“God created us, and He can complete us; God created my son, and He’ll complete my son,” Dancisak said. “I'm not discounting my sin and consequence, but I'm also not discounting the fact that God is … bigger than all of that.”
So when fellow Christians flippantly comment about how much Ethan needs a father, it’s hurtful because it touches on a desire that she’s already struggling to give up to God. For years, she thought finding a man would fix her problems, but instead it only led to greater depression, anger, and disobedience to God. Only through Christ has she found true wholeness, yet pressure to find a spouse can quickly shatter that contentment and tempt her to compromise.
She cautions Christians against telling single mothers that God has a man planned for them and their children, because that may not necessarily be the case. Rather, it’s more helpful for them to tell the promises God does make in the Word: He is good, He’s sovereign, and He will provide in His own timing and His own way.
It’s also difficult when people assume that she’s a “sad sob story” who’s just “wanting a hand out or milking the church for all they have,” when in actuality she’s working hard, budgeting her money, sacrificing, and hoping to become independent. One woman told Dancisak she couldn’t always just rely on the church to make ends meet, to which Dancisak thought to herself: “You think I want to do that?” It’s already extremely difficult and humbling to accept financial help from the church, “so when people say stuff, it can be very detrimental.”
At the same time, Dancisak says single parents have an important role in providing the church body with opportunities to “live out the gospel” supporting and loving these families. As her Reality LA church family walks alongside her, they’ve been able to see God’s provision and grace in a new way. She said Reality LA has gathered together to form “Team Dancisak” and shows God’s love by helping in whatever way they can—emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or fiscally.
It makes Dancisak want to turn around and serve others, evangelizing to her neighbors and counseling other woman in crisis pregnancies at a local pregnancy clinic. While her work schedule keeps her from volunteering for now, she knows this is a work God has prepared her for as she’s been in their shoes.
She wants to encourage single mothers in the church to stop seeing themselves as burdens: “We need to be diligent in coming to Jesus like children as we tell our children to come to us. … We all have serious needs, and it’s a need for Jesus. My needs are a little more practical, a little more visible, but it doesn’t mean I’m any more needy than any other human.”