I was talking to a pastor of a church the other day and he really wanted to tell me a story. We were in a crowded room and people kept coming up to us saying hi or asking questions every time he started to share. I finally got a few minutes to hear what he had to say as him and his wife were sharing their concern.
He said that recently someone had come back to their church after being gone for several years. She had just stopped coming and no one really had heard why but they were so glad to see her back. One Sunday after the service, he went over to her to welcome her back and tell her that they had missed her. He asked her what had happened and she had said, “Well, actually what happened is that I had an unplanned pregnancy. I was scared and terrified. I knew I needed God more than ever before. I started reaching out to friends for support and word slowly started spreading that I was pregnant. I was so disappointed that a few families at this church really came against me and made me feel unwelcome here. I was looked down upon and I felt more shame being here. This is my home church and this is where I should feel safe but instead I felt worse being here. I’m back because I miss it and hoping maybe things are different now.”
The pastor was so distraught as he was sharing with me. He was saying how much it broke his heart that she had felt that way and it really caused him to really reflect to see how he can make his church a more pro-love church and a safe place for girls that have an unplanned pregnancy.
So the great thing is that now you know! Being aware is half the battle. We all fully know though that even as a pastor, you can’t control the attitudes of everyone within the church. I go to an awesome, full of grace church and I still have met members within that are not. It’s just the way it is. We are still a family. But there is SO much love within my church that it makes the teeny bit of negative you might encounter, not even be an issue.
It starts with me and you. Together we can create a love-filled church that is a safe place. We can love the people that are harder to love that pass judgment too easily. Hurt people hurt people and they might just need a little more love themselves. If there is someone that is in your church with an unplanned pregnancy, give her a hug and say “Congratulations.” Be the one person that she feels safe with. All life should be celebrated!
When I got pregnant when I was 19, I never had anyone be rude or mean to me when I walked back into church. But no one ever even acknowledged my pregnancy. I just felt like it was the elephant in the room. I knew people knew. So people were talking about it … but never with me. People would stop and smile and nod, maybe an occasional how are you and then they moved on down, before any kind of conversation could happen. You could tell that they didn’t know what to say so they just hurried off before anything became awkward. These people were like a family and then it just got weird. I needed someone to say SOMETHING. I tried going a few times but my thoughts just went crazy about what I thought people were thinking of me, so bad that I couldn’t actually really concentrate on the sermon, so I just stopped going.
It’s better to say SOMETHING than nothing. And it’s always BEST for that something to be full of LOVE!
Reach out to that girl and love on her. Ask her how you can help. Ask her if she wants to meet for coffee and just talk. Ask her for her phone number so you can check on her. Ask her if she any support system. It’s a great opportunity to talk to your church about starting an Embrace Grace program! It’s a great opportunity to give her my book, A Bump in Life (sorry for the shameless plug).
We are the church. And the church is our home and the people is our family. Create a safe home for your family full of love and grace. Make your home a safe place so that when the girl sitting next to you in the pew finds out she is pregnant, she feels like she can confide and not be shunned. The percentage rate of abortions are the same IN the church as they are OUTSIDE the church. The church’s percentage should be WAY lower … or even non-existent.
We can change that percentage together. We can change the atmosphere of our church! We can even bring people outside the church TO the church because of love. Babies can be saved!
It starts with me and you!
Written by Amy Ford