Seventeen. Alone. Especially in a crowd. Pregnant. Unwed.
That combination of words is a fine example of unacceptability. Mothers eye you closely. Will you corrupt their children? The guys are worse. You’re free game. You have no right to expect basic courtesies. You’re just another unpaid tramp. The guy you told to keep his hands of snickers at you. If you’re lucky.
The one scene I’ll never forget. Seven months pregnant. Large. Struggling to get to my feet thanks to locking hips. I turned. Disgusted eyes meet mine. The man who became my husband introduces us. The eyes. I’ll never forget them. The derision in his voice as he scanned his eyes from my belly to my hand and then my face. “So, are you going to make this kid legitimate?”
Honestly, the only reason that I was able to see it for the inexcusable display of arrogance and self-righteousness that it was, is thanks to Kevin. His fist rose. If we hadn’t been inside the church building, if he hadn’t heard voices around him snapping his consciousness to the present, I truly believe the creep would have been knocked across a few pews.
The church tried. They didn’t know what to do with me. They wanted to show forgiveness and love. Some went overboard. In their desire to show the love and acceptance of the sinner they made my situation almost look glamorous. I remember seeing the younger teen girls so confused. If it wasn’t acceptable to get pregnant when you aren’t married, why the parties? Why the constant stream of gifts?
Then there were those who wanted to make sure they compensated. Words hurled at me about how my situation destroyed their reputation. Those still sting. Alone. Barely seventeen. Gather the courage to call and get blasted as though I tried to find the best way to ruin their life. That relationship never did heal all the way. I tried. I think they did. Why is grief so destructive to those around us?
The world. I actually expected more acceptance from them. That still hurts to this day. Christians should always know, without question, that while the church may inflict those “Faithful wounds” that Proverbs tells us about, they’re on our side and will carry us through anything. Always. Period.
The world wasn’t as supportive as I expected. I’d been a firm believer that the world was fully entrenched in “anything goes”. It didn’t. Of course, now that I look back, most of what I considered the world was likely someone from another church. We might not agree on doctrine but they read the same Bible that the church I attended did and apparently they came to the same conclusions.
Don’t show mercy.
Don’t offer help.
Don’t talk past the uncomfortable things and get to the meat of it.
There were the exceptions of course. The woman who gave me all of her maternity clothes and her daughter’s entire wardrobe to age two. I was so grateful. She took me home, fed me, talked to me, and never once even hinted that there was anything left to forgive. Jesus had done it. It wasn’t her place to bring it up. I loved her for that. There were others. They know who they are. The woman who took me to the hospital and stayed with me through my labor. Polly I love you. That was so huge for me. I tried not to show it but I was terrified.
By the time I got engaged, I thought things had settled. I didn’t feel the constant down draft from up-turned noses. I thought maybe people had grown accustomed to me. I thought I was acceptable now.
Then I was married. Oy. It was fresh pain all over again. Suddenly people treated me like they had before my disgrace. People joked with me. I hadn’t realized it but that had stopped. People expected things of me again. That was huge.
If you look like your life is “ok” then you are ok. You are safe. You are…
I’ve learned to hate the concept.