I really hate disappointing people. But somehow I manage to do it anyway. Getting pregnant as a teenager is probably near the top of the list of disappointments I’ve provided my family.
In the late 1980’s teen pregnancy was still only discussed in hushed tones, and hidden. In 2019, there are all kinds of special programs for pregnant teenagers. Teens bring their children to school with them, and the schools provide daycare or preschool for the little ones while the parents finish their high school education. But in 1989, I would have been kicked out of school if administrators learned I was pregnant. Forced to go to an alternative high school for “those girls,” and problem teens. Teen pregnancy was considered similar to a contagious disease, and nobody wanted their child to “catch it,” so pregnant teens were sent off to other places. So they wouldn’t be seen.
Shame entered my life immediately with pregnancy. I am aware that it had all happened through my own choices, and I brought this on myself. But the enemy has used that shame for many many years. Still uses it sometimes. To remind me that beyond my own hurt, my choices were embarrassing to others. Hurtful. Disappointing. Devastating. Dream killing. My family had a vision of what my life would look like. Teen pregnancy definitely wasn’t part of it.
I do understand. Most parents would prefer that their kids do it “the right way.” Fall in love. Get engaged. Get married. Then have kids. I want that for my own children. Both because I know that is what the Bible tells us to do, and because I know the emotional distress and unrest pregnancy outside of marriage can cause.
When you are a pregnant teen in the 1980’s, having to hide your pregnancy, nobody throws you a baby shower. There isn’t a celebration. Nobody hugs one another and shouts, “we’re going to be grandparents.” There is no gender reveal party. Nothing to draw attention to this. No belly pictures. You don’t wear maternity clothes or anything that would betray your growing bump. You wear baggy clothes. Stand in the background. Try not to be noticed. There is no shopping for teeny tiny baby clothes, no preparing a nursery and putting together a crib. Nesting doesn’t get to exist. Hiding. Shrinking into the surroundings. Making yourself as small as possible is the normal.
I don’t share this to gain pity. I share this because this was the beginning of shame (well big shame anyway, I am sure I felt ashamed about smaller things as a child) in my life. The beginning of learning to hide. Learning not to tell people who I really am, and what I have really done. Matthew 5:14-15 says: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” I let my light get put under a bowl.
For a long time I’ve kept this part of me, as well as others, hidden. Protected secrets, only shared with people who have earned my trust. But in this new year as I strive to let God be amplified in my life, I know it is time to let the light out from under the bowl. To be the city on the hill. The Message Bible ends the above verse from Matthew in this way, “Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand — shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, MSG)
So here’s to really shining in the new year. And sharing. Unmastered. To not keeping things hidden under a bowl. To letting everyone see who I really am. By opening up about this and the other things, I hope I can help people open up to God. Here’s to less of me and my shame, and more of God. Amplified.
Hold on, it’s going to be a wild and scary ride!!