Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Shame is on Who?

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.

Except now.

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.


Lovebabz said...

I am growing weary of this age of harsh judgement and condemnation.

We forget that Mary was with child BEFORE she married Joseph.

I am always saddened when the one place that ought to be accepting...welcoming and open is often the place where shame is held up for all to see with a critical eye.

This is why I have chosen the Church I am in now. I needed one that nurtured my spirit. Had tolerance and was open and affirming to all no matter where they are in their faith's journey.

Keep the faith and be a friend to this young mother.

Ms. Liryc said...

Though we are evolving as a people, the members of our church haven't decided to go along with evolution and realize that sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes we get carried away and things fail to work. ok, don't make me feel bad, speak to me.. let me know you understand. instead they throw stones, while they are guilty themselves.

I hear things about teen pregnancy, but our grandparents or great grands had babies young too, whats the difference. The church goers are the worst people when it comes to judging. They will preach love and all that but do something wrong they mock the same scriptures they read.

Things have to change, and its going to take a while for people to reevaluate their values and ideas of what should be and what is.

MsKnowitAll said...

Thank you Sister Lovebabz. I would love to visit your church! I know there are churches in NYC with the same spirit however I'm praying that my Pastor and Ass't Pastor shock me when they find out about this young woman. And no matter what, I do plan to be a friend to her. Thank you.

Ms. Liryc... You know these churches believe "The same Jesus then, the same Jesus now", the Word of God does not change... so they refuse to bend or creatively preach and live out God's Word.
I agree they mock the scriptures and push people out instead of ushering them in.

Kay C, The Quiet Storm said...

The Church is a "monster of a different color" as my Granny would say. I do feel like we should say something when we see people doing things (i.e. the short skirts and tons of makeup) I use to tell my niece when her skirts were too short or when I felt she acted out.

Unfortunately, some people do not take it well, but at least I feel like I tried. Did the church fail her? In that aspect yes, but all is not lost.

I have a love/hate relationship with church. Sometimes I feel as if they lump us all in a certain age range as hethon whore-mongers when we are really just there to seek advice on the daily struggle.

I agree that the message must change as times are changing. But the church seems as if it is the last place that wants to change.

MsKnowitAll said...

Kay C... All is not lost. As I wrote last week... Could have been me. We often come to church with that "sin no more" attitude, when it's really "don't sin... as often". Empathy, compassion & understanding is healing rather than shunning.

The Insatiable One said...

I too have a love/hate relationship with church sometimes. Being a single , unwed mother, even at 27 and not 17, I was very embarassed early in my pregnancy. But I realized in just a few weeks into, this is a huge blessing; one that many women may never have bestowed on them. I think you're doing a great thing talking to her and her mother and letting know that you support them. That child should come into the world with nothing but love and feel that everyday. I told my son, before he was born, everyday that I loved him no matter what and I still tell him everyday.