Last night, my church had a women’s meeting where we talked about Pro-Grace, a ministry that we have recently partnered with (I’ll provide a link at the end of the article for you to check them out, which I HIGHLY recommend, but I need you to read this whole thing first). While I was excited to hear more about it, something was said last night that angered me so greatly, I needed to calm down a bit before approaching this article.
I’ll tell you what was said later, but first, I need to tell you my story: a story of grace after an unplanned pregnancy.
For the Christian who hasn’t been through an unplanned pregnancy, let me tell you what it feels like to be on “that side” of things.
The truth is, I had plenty of abstinence talks before everything happened. (I was raised in a very legalistic home, so I got that talk many times – trust me, I understood it). I made it through high school and some of college remaining abstinent.
But I made a mistake somewhere along the way.
(And while it is still somewhat uncomfortable for me to talk about it, after what I heard last night, I’m okay being uncomfortable if my story will convict others to act a little more like Jesus and a little less like a pharisee).
Let’s see this from my eyes:
I was 22 (almost 23). I ended up becoming pregnant. And my boyfriend? He was a youth pastor/director. He had just quit his “non-church” job, one he was doing well in, to devote more time to ministry. I also lost my job. They didn’t need me anymore, so they let me go. A million things ran through my head. My boyfriend would lose his position in the church (obviously). How would we get money? Where would we live? How were we going to do this?
And my friends? Family? Would people still talk to me after they found out?
The truth? Some did, but most pretended we didn’t exist.
My husband did lose his job as a youth pastor (rightfully so), and while it should be said that there were Christ-following believers that acted in grace and mercy (and I praise God for you guys to this day for that – you know who you are), there were many that didn’t. Many didn’t reach out. Many knew we were struggling, but it was no longer beneficial to be associated with us, so they stopped talking to us. To this day, I struggle with making new friends at church because I wonder just how many people truly understand grace and mercy.
And I got a good picture of just how misunderstood grace and mercy still is last night, but more on that later.
Praise God that we were okay. My boyfriend (now husband) has management skills. He is an incredible leader, so when he went back to his old job (looking for a second job), they not only accepted him back, but asked him to quit the first job and paid him accordingly. That was God’s mercy and grace. God gave us a place to live. God provided many of the things we needed through family, friends, and hand-me-downs from people whose babies outgrew those items. God was so good to us. We ended up being more than okay. God was not quiet.
But the Church, the bride of Christ? The one that is supposed to emulate Christ? The Church was absent and silent throughout all of this.
Eventually, my (now) husband got an incredible opportunity to work for a place that paid well and had great benefits. I also started working at a different place (a place I enjoyed more, honestly). We were doing pretty well. We eventually went back to church (yes, the same church).
But things had changed. And some people wanted to make sure I didn’t forget that.
I have many stories, but I will simply tell you this one. My daughter was about to turn one. I was excited to attend a church event that many of my friends were also attending. My daughter was also being watched by my mother in law, so my husband and I were free to enjoy the evening baby-free (praise God for grandparents). Anyway, I saw an old friend of mine and walked towards her.
I expected a warm welcome, a “wow, I’m so happy to see you again!”, a “you’re back at church and I’m so glad to see that!”, but do you know what I received from this “friend”, a friend that I considered one of my “close” friends? A cold hug, a quick hello, and an “I’ll see you around” followed by her not talking to me again for the rest of the evening.
And words can not articulate how much that hurt. I was still “that girl”, the one that got pregnant and caused a pastor/director to fall. (And if you happen to read this and know I’m talking about you, just know I have more than forgiven you. I needed to share this. We all make errors in our judgments, but those errors can have devastating effects. But I have nothing but love for you).
I hope you’re still with me. You’re about to find out just what happened at that church meeting.
So now that you know my story, you know why the subject matter last night was sensitive for me. Anyway, because my church is a new partner with Pro-Grace, my pastor showed up at the end of the event and asked for comments and questions to bring to the CEO. As people spoke around me, I kept getting the feeling that people were missing the mark. I feel like God wanted me to share this story with everyone, but something stopped me from sharing. As women spoke at the end of the event, I prayed to God, asking for a “neon sign” if He wanted me to share.
He provided one.
One lady raised her hand and asked our pastor if we were doing anything to “help promote abstinence in our church”. She then followed that with “sign me up for THAT ministry!”,(implying that the other ministry wasn’t worth her time).
I can not even begin to describe the anger I felt after hearing that.
Was I the only one paying attention? Am I worshipping the wrong Jesus, one that goes to sinners and ministers to them in error? Should I be worshipping one of the pharisees instead, a “messiah” that says “forget the sinners, let’s all try to stay pure folks and get it right?”
That was my neon sign from God, but because I was so angry, I held back. Perhaps that was righteous anger. Perhaps it wasn’t. Either way, I stayed quiet and I didn’t share this story. I didn’t tell everyone that many people go through this, not just “poor kids who don’t know any better”.
I don’t want to assume she meant that with bad intentions. Perhaps she didn’t. Maybe she just didn’t choose her words correctly (because I absolutely think abstinence before marriage is the answer), but what if she would have told a young pregnant mother those words? That she wasn’t worthy of her time because she was no longer abstinent before marriage?
That’s what many people had basically told me when I messed up. I wasn’t worthy of their time. That’s not grace. That’s not mercy.
That’s not Jesus.
(And if you happened to read this, I also forgive you. We ALL need grace & mercy. So whomever you are, I forgive you because Jesus forgave me even after some terrible and pharisaical thoughts of my own).
I’ve made this post long enough, but let me end it with this: Jesus is a Lord of mercy & grace. Yes, He is also one of justice and He takes sin VERY seriously, but in His Word, it specifically says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Even more so, He is the Lord who spoke to that adulterous woman, a passage my church read last night. And what did He tell her? “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more”. And what did He do before He said that? He didn’t leave her because she sinned. He met her need. He handled the pharisees. Then He spoke to her.
He handled a physical need of hers before even speaking about her sin.
I will leave you with that same passage to read, the very passage that inspired The Glass House Gospel in the first place. I pray that God opens your heart and speaks to you as you read His Word. May we never throw stones at others, especially in the name of God, when we are still so very sinful ourselves.
Grace & Peace.
(P.S. Here is the link for Pro-Grace. Please check them out and share them with your pastors. I strongly feel every church can benefit from them. Let’s become the alternative in the abortion debate. Let’s be Jesus in a place He is greatly needed.)
JOHN 8:2-11 (CSB)
At dawn he went to the temple again, and all the people were coming to him. He sat down and began to teach them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They asked this to trap him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse him.
Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only he was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, he said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, Lord,” she answered.
“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”