At the age of 18, I, like any other young adult, was ready to take on the world. I had planned on college, and after that a career. I had aspirations that ranged from teaching to a becoming a deaconess; I really just wanted to serve the Lord in all of my work. I vividly remember my parents hugging me while I proudly held up stacks of acceptance letters to colleges around the country. I had planned on moving out. I wanted a taste of the independence that my friends all seemed to have. My laptop sat open, Pinterest boards filled up with apartment renovation ideas and dorm room decorations. I had it all figured out. But there was a life that my parents didn't know about: a sinful, darker and deceptive life. What I hadn't planned on was being caught. The last thing on my mind was parenthood.
I can't think of a gentle way to describe the shock that goes through the mind of a young woman when she discovers she's pregnant. For me, it was a mixture of fear and shame and guilt; those feelings were dramatically increased when I realized that at some point, everyone around me would see my sin. The secret was out. I couldn't continue to lie to everyone around me. People from all parts of my life would soon know what I had done. And I would have to answer for those prying and sin-exposing questions for the rest of my life. Unlike every other situation where I was caught doing something wrong as a teen, this was something I couldn't escape from or talk my way out of.
I remember in particular, as I sat in shock and stared at that blue plus sign, I felt so alone, and sinful beyond repair. I feared rejection and abandonment. I wondered if there could be redemption for my soul. In shame and humility, I reluctantly confided in my dad. The sinful lies I had worked so hard to cover up were finally being exposed. I knew I deserved nothing but punishment and rebuke for my actions. Yet, even through all of this, my father's words of wisdom and grace cut through the overpowering sense of helplessness.
He said, "Your God is with you. Even in your sin, He loves you. Your remorse and fear indicate His law is at work in your heart and His forgiveness is immediate. In Christ, forgiveness is yours, freely given. God's love for you in Christ is timeless. He will never abandon or forsake you, no matter what you do to deny His will for you. Christ made the sacrifice for your sin. You are washed clean by His blood and right now, right here, you are white as snow. You are sinless. You are renewed and reborn. So let's focus on tomorrow, the new you in Christ redeemed by his abundant grace."
So what about now? What about today, now that I am a single mom, but one redeemed and renewed by Christ's love and forgiveness? Well, life is harder--much harder than I could have ever imagined when I shortsightedly planned my college and career while living two distinctly different lives. I'm now often uncomfortable in social situations, scared of the judging eyes and the possibility of unwanted comments from people who raise their eyebrows at me. I experience emotions I didn't know were possible to feel on a daily basis. I feel them with an intensity that leaves me feeling hollowed out. Sinful regret comes in waves everyday when I encounter people and things that remind me of my sin. My body is no longer the body of a young teenager. It has been ravaged by pregnancy. My mind does not possess the carefree attitude or innocence it once held. I am riddled with anxiety, depression, and guilt. Along with this, I have lost the perspective of self. The first thought when I wake and the last thought when I sleep is of my son: his safety, his wellbeing, and my powerful love for him. Some days he can remind me of my past, but he will always remain a constant reminder of God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness in my life.
I speak from experience when I say that being a single teen mother is not easy. But through an unplanned pregnancy and motherhood, the Lord has shown me that even my best attempts to condemn myself are futile. He takes my sin and never stops blessing me. He wraps me in Christ's forgiveness and love, in absolution and grace that I cannot escape. In the middle of my sin, guilt, and shame, my God, who is faithful to His baptismal promises, guided me to repentance and showered me with countless blessings--gifts that are freely given to my parched soul. From my sin burst forth a flood of grace, the biggest blessing in my life. Through God's only Son, I was given my son.
Karina Pellegrini is a member at Messiah Lutheran Church in Marysville, Washington.
Created: October 27th, 2015