The summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, a barely 16-year old girl walked into the band hall and informed the director that she had to forego her private All-State training. The reason? She was pregnant. This girl was the granddaughter of a faithful elder in the church, the daughter of a faithful minister. As a sophomore in High School she had already been guaranteed a music scholarship to the college of her choice because of her talent and hard-work on the clarinet. She was Captain of the Color Guard, and a straight “A” student who had never been in any trouble at all.
What are you feeling right now? What is your automatic reaction to that girl’s situation? How would you react if that were to happen in your own congregation? How would you react if that were to happen in your own family?
I was that girl.
In one instant my entire life came crashing down around me. Not only me, but also my family and the church. We had not been flagrantly promiscuous; there was one time that we were alone too long and things went too far. But, one time was all it took.
At that point I had to quit band, forego my scholarship, quit regular school and go to a self-paced alternative school so I could try to finish high school before the baby was born. My mom had just switched jobs so we had no insurance, and no way to pay for the baby so I also had to begin working two jobs.
My boyfriend had just finished his freshman year at a college two and a half hours away. He immediately quit that school, foregoing his own music and academic scholarships and transferred to a Higher Education center by our hometown so he could be with me, and began working at a local grocery store. My family was shamed and dishonored, and my father, my representative of God on earth, offered to leave the pulpit because of MY sin. My wonderful daddy was actually the one who took me to the doctor for the official pregnancy test. I was TERRIFIED to go back into the waiting room where he was. It cut me straight to the heart to even think of the pain and disappointment I knew would be in his eyes. The thought of actually saying, “I am pregnant” to him made me nauseous. Thankfully, I didn’t have to tell him. I walked into the waiting room with tears streaming down my face. My daddy crossed the entire waiting room in 2 steps and just pulled me into his arms, and held me, and cried. I don’t know how long we stood there crying while he whispered in my ear that it would be ok, and we would get through it together, somehow.
At the next worship service my boyfriend and I, both Christians, went forward. We confessed our sin with broken hearts and did our best to make things right with our physical family, spiritual family, and the Lord. Thankfully we were blessed with an AMAZING Christian family. They took us in and supported us, helping us any way they could. They told my dad that he was under no circumstances to even consider leaving the pulpit, that no parent, and no child, is perfect.
Naturally, my boyfriend and I wanted to get married right away but my parents refused. We were absolutely furious but we had already caused enough damage so we respected their wishes. Their feelings were that if we could survive a pregnancy, we could survive anything, and they didn’t want us looking back two years down the road, looking at each other, and thinking, “You only married me for the baby.” They were right. My mother walked down the aisle at our wedding with our precious 4-month-old baby girl in her arms.
As a side note, I am so thankful that we waited to get married. When we had been married about a year we were having a huge fight fueled by immaturity. I looked him in the eyes and opened my mouth to say, “You just married me for her!” Suddenly, I realized I COULDN’T say that. He DIDN’T marry me because of her; he had plenty of time to back out. He married me for me, and that is one of the most precious gifts my parents have ever given me.
My husband and I have been tremendously blessed. Our story ends (or I guess continues) as happily as it possibly could. He is the most incredible man I have ever known, and I feel blessed by him daily. We worked hard and paid for the birth of our daughter ourselves before she was even born. We worked hard, and put my husband through nursing school while I stayed home with our daughter (which involved him working 40+ hours a week during nursing school to support us). Ten months after he graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Nursing, he realized that this was not really what he wanted and we sold the house he had just bought me and loaded up our now TWO daughters (the youngest of which was three months old) and moved across the country from Oklahoma to Denver, Colorado to attend Bear Valley. Today we are blessed with a loving, fulfilling marriage, 3 daughters, a 10 month old son, & an incredible ministry in Porter, Oklahoma.
Our story has a happy ending, but the pain and turmoil it has taken to get here– for everyone involved– is beyond description. This pain will be with us the rest of our lives. I was the preacher’s kid who got “knocked up;” everyone in our small town knew it and I could see the condemnation in their eyes everywhere I went. There was shock and terror at what the future would bring. How could I take care of a baby when I was still one myself? I am only now beginning to understand what my parents were going through as they watched that struggle. They loved me enough to do the hard thing and make me grow up and take care of my responsibilities. There was no partying with friends, or going on dates. There was no sleeping through 2 a.m. feedings. I may have only been 16, but I was a mother.
Not only that but it affects us to this day. I still have people commenting on how I am too young to have a 10-year old, and they are right! I have the shame and regret of my intelligent daughter understanding that she turned 10 in January, yet her daddy and I just had our 10th wedding anniversary in May. There were months, and years of crying myself to sleep. When it was time to interview for jobs in the ministry, we were very concerned: being a preacher who had a kid out-of-wedlock could be a problem. I was even cautioned about writing this article because many even in the brotherhood are very judgmental. I have to acknowledge that there is truth to that. Yet, if I pretend that I haven’t fallen short because I’m a preacher’s wife, I have done myself, the congregation, and the lost I am trying to reach a terrible disservice (Romans 3:23). I am human, I have failed. I have one big, public failure– true. But unfortunately I have MANY private failures every day that only God sees & it is all the same to Him.
This pain is not without its fruit, however. I am a stronger and more compassionate person today because of what I went through at 16. I am convinced that our daughter is what solidified us in the faith as young and (obviously) immature Christians. When the song, “There Goes My Life” was released, my mom bought it and gave it to my husband because it so symbolizes the last 10 years for us both. Through the grace of God my husband and I (and the poor innocent baby subjected to such immature parents!) survived, but I will not risk my children going through that when I can prevent it!
10 years ago sexual promiscuity among teens was a problem, but it was taboo and not as flagrant and people were still able to deny the seriousness and scope of the problem. That is no longer the case! We KNOW now how serious this problem is, that the best of us can fall into this trap and what a struggle it is for our kids. So why in the world would I send those precious souls entrusted to me out in the world on their own to deal with it?! The answer for me is that I will NOT. I refuse. The world (and unfortunately even my brethren) can be appalled, offended, and jibe at us for it, I don’t care. Getting my four children to Heaven is my priority and I will do whatever that takes, and protect them from anything necessary, including themselves.
My dear brethren, I beg of you, please seriously consider some form of courtship for your children. I really believe it is what my parents would have chosen for me if they had been exposed to any such idea. There is no reason for hormone-driven young people to be sent out into the world on their own, or even into your living room on their own! It is not a matter of trust. My parents trusted me, & I was trustworthy, I just was not strong enough for the temptations that I chose to expose myself to. I Thessalonians 5:22 tells us to flee the very APPEARANCE of evil. When a couple is locked in a tongue in tongue kiss, believe me, that is more than the appearance of evil! Let’s be honest, if first of all our children aren’t allowed to pursue a relationship until they are old enough & mature enough to begin looking for a spouse, and if during that relationship their time is spent with other people, what opportunity is there for them to be led astray by their own desires (James 1:14)?!
Sisters, take it from the voice of experience, DATING DOES NOT WORK. Let us raise a generation of pure youth. Let us be on guard for the temptations that Satan will most certainly throw at our children. Proverbs 22:5-6 says, “Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Sisters, Satan is after our children! Let us raise them with a Biblical understanding of what God wants for them in their relationships with members of the opposite sex. Let us raise them to pursue purity and love rather than lust. Let us guide them in keeping their minds (and hearts!) on things above (Colossians 3:2) ESPECIALLY in regards to how they will find their spouse. May God bless you and your precious children and grandchildren with the peace that comes from purity of heart, mind, and body.