A 19 year old woman asking for a pregnancy test is not uncommon at Community Pregnancy Center. In fact, 19 years old is the average age for our clients. In 2012, 64% of girls seen in our facility were under the age of 24, so when a 19 year old girl entered our doors, we were in our comfort zone in a way. However, this girl’s current age was not the one that identified her. Her ages leading her to 19 reveal the sordid story behind the beautiful face.
- Her mother refuses responsibility, sending the child to her new grandparents.
- Her father has already disappeared from her life.
9 years old:
- The client’s grandmother dies, leaving her under the care of her grandfather.
- This sole caretaker refuses the child and sends her away to her aunt and uncle.
- While his wife lie with him, the uncle leaves his bed every night to sexually abuse his 9 year old niece.
- Scared and confused, the child tells another uncle of her nightly experiences. This man then tells the young girl’s father.
- Her father takes his child, who he doesn’t even know, to another country to escape. (Though evidence was drawn and testimonies given, the case against the perverted uncle never made it to trial.)
13 years old:
- She moves into the house with her now pregnant birth mother.
- She discovers that she herself is now pregnant.
- Once her mother gives birth, she disappears for days at a time, leaving her 13 year old, pregnant daughter to care for her newborn infant alone.
14 years old:
- She delivers her child, and chooses adoption.
- She suffers the heartache of giving her baby away, unsure if she will ever see the child again.
- Because the pregnancy matured and shifted the curves of her body, she chooses to become a stripper.
16 years old:
- She falls in love with a young man. He supports her financially, so she could stop stripping.
17 years old:
- She gives birth to their first child together.
19 years old:
- They are now engaged and expecting their second child.
Suddenly 19 years old doesn't seem so average. This young woman, this teenager has experienced more agony-more “world”-than most people should know in an entire lifetime. She had been rejected by her own mother, her father, and her grandfather. She was raped on a regular basis by family. She gave away her first born child, when she, too, was just a child. She had been seen and touched in the most intimate ways by complete strangers. This was her life. This was all she knew: betrayal, perversion, and abandonment. She grew gravely familiar with the process of working her way out of her past.
When asked about her relationship with God, she expressed a similar “works” belief. She cleaned up her life for her fiancé, so she assumed that she needed to clean up her life for God. She wasn’t quite where she wanted to be in her life, but she was getting close. Maybe she’d surrender to God…when she gives birth to this new baby. Maybe she’d lie in His arms…when she marries her fiancé. Maybe she would see herself as good enough then. Maybe after all these decisions, God would finally see her as worth His attention, worth His love.
But that’s the point. As humans, as creation, we will never make enough right decisions to deserve the love of the Perfect Creator. There’s not a checklist in the Bible, detailing a road to righteousness. There’s not a set of magic words that will set us free from any past. There’s only Jesus.
There’s only grace.
Our limited brains have not been functioning long enough to fully grasp even a fraction of grace, but it’s real, and it’s available. Our admittance to God’s presence is always open. Our forgiveness from God is guaranteed, because it’s wholly anchored in the victory of Jesus Christ-not in our works. Every wrong choice adds another death sentence to our growing death toll and more anger and judgment from God Himself, and no amount of reciting or working could ever eradicate such a debt-except the blood of the Son of God. Now, through a relationship with Him, God hears the scared confessions and He sees those mistakes, but He sees them through a lens of absolution. That death toll was paid for. That anger and judgment was already exhausted.
There’s only grace.
As our Client Advocate explained the unashamedly good news of the Gospel, the 19 year old girl’s heart seemed to soften. Her past seemed to fade in the light of Christ’s love, but she still hesitated. She still held back, unsure if such a Savior could truly be THAT good to redeem such a life. Having permission, our Client Advocate prayed over the young woman before she left. Tears streamed down her face as if she sensed for the first time her Creator’s passionate pursuit to bring her home. Pray she realizes she can come unprepared and broken to the feet of God.
“Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is FULL redemption.”