I remember as a teenager when my mother seemed to threaten me as she told me...
"You get pregnant if you want to and you're not giving it up, there will be no abortions. You will have that baby, raise that baby, right here, in that pink room. You will be a mother, a good mother."
I thought of that on Sunday as I looked at one of my choir members. I'm very observant. Very. And often I look and see what's out of place, what's wrong, flaws. Not in a negative sense because I normally try to correct, straighten up, or at best, address the imperfection.
So with this youth I observed that she's been wearing the same 2 outfits over and over again. She's usually a fly girl and she's got a shape on her. She doesn't shy from showing it.
On Sunday, I noticed that her coat was tight, her top was tight and her shapely body is transforming. I could be wrong, I pray I am wrong, but something tells me that I'm not.
My 17 year-old choir member is pregnant.
Now the Black Church can be tough on unwed or young mothers. They choose to ostracize them until the "problem", the "situation", the "issue" is gone. But really, is the problem, situation or issue gone after they give birth to a child? Is pregnancy the problem? Where did we as a Church Family fail?
We as a Church are an extension of the biological family. We can not police this young woman or the other youth from engaging in sexual activities. However I feel that we fail when we "sit down" the expecting mother, shaming her, after the fact. I feel that we fail when we don't talk about sex or about the pressures of the world in our places of worship. We seem to think that just because they show up for church on Sunday or sing on the choir that they are too young to fornicate... as we do... that it's impossible for them to get pregnant... or would it have just been better for her to have an abortion and no one would be the wiser or for her to go through with her term and we see exactly where we failed.
In the case of this young woman I only have a problem with her hiding. What a way to bring a child in the world when you feel you have to hide because of what someone will say or feel? The deed is done, the evidence is apparent and we all know what she's been up to.
But what about when she wore the shortest skirts, the highest heels, the tightest, sheerest blouses? What about how we talked about her pancake make-up and long fake eyelashes? What about when we talked ABOUT her and never spoke TO her.
We could have predicted this moment but never did a thing or said a word to prevent it. The shame is really on us...
A strong Church family would show and tell our youth that they don't have to act out for attention, sex is not equivalent to love, you are beautiful without your make-up and eyelashes and tight clothes, drugs are not the answer, tell us about the abuse at home - we won't just talk about it amongst ourselves, gossip on the hellaphones or roll our eyes - we will do something about it. We would show and tell them that we genuinely love them, we support them, no matter what.
I would have liked to see this young woman come to me or the other youth leaders and explain to us what she's experiencing. She is one of my dedicated choir members, actively serving and always willing. That is hard to find with these youth who prefer the streets to church. I know she knows like everyone else what will happen when the Pastor or the Deacons find out however I know we can work something out so that she won't feel ostracized, put out or sat down.
Nonetheless, there is still LOVE. And lovingly I feel compelled to talk to this young woman and her mother. First to let them know that we know and there is no need to hide. I was not pregnant as a teen nor have I ever been pregnant, but as my mother warned me and threw out her support to me when I was a teen, I will support this young mother-to-be. Her pregnancy is not the end of her world and her baby is not the end of her dreams but it is hard out here and the best that we can do from this moment on is love and support her in every way.