Part 9: The Great Commandment

I am a sinner. But I am not alone.

God’s merciful love is the only reason I’m here. My purpose is to follow the Great Commandment and to share the message of His love with others. 

I look around me and see suffering from wounds that can be healed through the love of Christ. Perhaps my story will heal another sinner’s heart. Maybe yours. I want you to know that you are not alone. And that you are good enough to be called His. I want to raise my son in a way that allows him to know his purpose through Christ.

What have I learned through all this? I’ve learned that I don’t need to be shy about sharing my love for Christ or modeling His love through my actions. I’ve come to know that it’s not about being blameless, but about seeking forgiveness. It’s not about quoting scripture, but about learning what God’s word can do in my life. I’ve witnessed His grace and know His love is perfected in us.

Most importantly, I know that even though I’m not worthy to call myself a disciple of the Lord, I’m perfect in His eyes.

So how can I serve His kingdom? Above all else, I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength. And I will love my neighbor as myself. The Great Commandment.

And now only one thing remains: How can I be that loving neighbor today?

Part 8: Purpose

What’s my purpose? Why am I here?

These questions consume my thoughts. God has blessed me, a sinner, with so much more than I deserve, and I want to do more with this life. I want to give back, but I don’t know what I can share.

Meanwhile, a voice echoes in my mind. It’s God, and He’s calling me to church. But I’m so afraid to open those doors. How could I ever be good enough to set foot in a place of worship? Won’t other people see my scars and reject me? Still, in my loneliness I can’t escape the thought of surrounding myself with believers.

Every day I wake up wondering, “What now?” I know that God rescued me by putting special people in my path, and now I desperately want to help others in that same way. Every time I open my bible, I seem to find my way to Romans 12:6, where I read,

“We have different gifts according to the grace given us.”

What are my gifts? What do I have to give? How can I serve Him? How can I help another lost and lonely sinner see His grace and feel His love?

"Here I am, God," I cry. "Take me."

Part 7: Imperfect

I find myself lost in His word again today, as I seek the comfort I have found in scriptures.  After a long day, I dream of snuggling with my sweet baby, and letting my heart devour God’s truths. I feel so overcome with peace when I read scripture. I’m even beginning to find comfort from the guilt of my past. I feel hope of a future for us in Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-5 speaks to my soul.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.

I know this is true because I have seen His grace in the little mercies that could only be explained because of Him. Groceries on my doorstep. An extra $50 in my account. An abnormally large tip from a customer that paid for my car insurance last month.

A common thread weaves through my devotional tonight – love. But my heart still aches with a familiar tug, for I still don’t understand. “Why would anyone want to love me, let alone God?” I wondered. “How can He share His kingdom with somebody who is so flawed?”

As I pray for an answer to this question, God leads my eyes to 1 John 4:12.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Christ is listening – and answering! His voice shouts from the dog-eared pages of my second-hand bible. Christ doesn’t want perfection. He wants us to love us, not because we’re perfect but because we’re His.

As I look down at the sleeping child cradled in my arms, I now understand. In the absence of Christ, all of us are imperfect. But when we give ourselves over to Jesus, His blood changes everything. Imperfect becomes “I’m Perfect.”

Part 6: Hunger

Every day, I face the same dilemma – food or diapers?

On top of going to college, I’m also working three part-time jobs, yet there are days I can’t afford to eat. I’m getting better at managing what little money I have, but all the penny-pinching in the world won’t soothe the hunger in my belly.

Tonight, the exhaustion and hunger have left me feeling dizzy. I simply can’t wait to get off my feet after a long day of delivering newspapers, sitting through class, and cleaning houses. As I push the stroller down the sidewalk and look down at the chubby cheeks of my sleeping baby, a smile washes over my face, knowing that he’s well fed. This feeling of “not good enough” to be this beautiful baby’s mom still nags at my conscience, but I’m thankful I get to try.

As I climb the stairs to my apartment, I see something in front of my door. With darkness falling, I can’t tell what it is for sure, but as I reach the landing, it all becomes clear. My door is blocked by bags of groceries. I almost collapse in disbelief!

“What angel could have done this?” I wondered as I look around for my benefactor. But all is quiet. Nothing there except a note stuck to my door.

“These groceries are for you,” it started. “I hope you can use them. We don’t know each other, but I’ve seen you around the apartment complex with your little one. Your face kept popping into my mind while I was at Hy-Vee tonight. I went to pick up a gallon of milk, and something said, “Buy two.” From there, I felt compelled to pick up two of everything on my grocery list. I am not sure why, but I listened because I knew it was God speaking. I hope you can find joy in what God has provided.” 

Part 5: Good enough

My heart burst when they placed him in my arms for the first time.

It would be impossible to describe every emotion surging through my soul at that moment, but nothing will ever top it. As I held his pink body close to mine, I vowed no one would ever hurt this precious little child. And I thanked God for this experience. This second chance. This gift of love — so small yet so infinite.

In that moment, the impact of what God did for me through the blood of His son struck me. Even though I’m not good enough on my own to receive such a gift, He still made the ultimate sacrifice for me. Could I possibly be the sacrificial mother my beautiful son would need?

As I felt my newborn son’s tiny hand wrap my finger, tears of joy streamed down my cheeks, and I offered prayers of hope. Lord, please show me how to be this precious baby’s mom. Help me be good enough. Don’t let my mistakes ever bring him pain or sorrow. Give him a future.

Lying alone in the hospital bed, cuddling my new bundle of joy to my chest, I wanted to give the world to my child. But I still wasn’t sure what I had to offer the world in return. 

Part 4: Hope

The river is peaceful tonight.

There are no fisherman, boats, or campers. Just me, the stars and the blanket wrapped around my shoulders. I look up to gaze at the stars – so many beautiful stars – and I have but one question.

"God, are you listening?”

The conversation continues.

If you will still have me, I am yours.

“I’ve been told my whole life that you’re real. I’ve gone to church a few times and spent time with friends who believed you have power.  So here’s what I want you to do. Show me your face.

“How am I supposed to care for this baby when I don’t even know how to deal with my own pain and shame?   My hurt is so deep that I don’t care if I live anymore, but what does that mean for this little life inside of me?”

The bugs are my only reply.

Tears begin to stream down my face, and I feel something calling me. Slowly, I slide to my knees, broken and ashamed, lost and afraid, desolate and alone. And finally … I give in.

"God, I’m sorry for all the wrong I’ve done. I’m sorry for the people I’ve hurt, and for putting so many things in this life ahead of knowing who you are. I’m afraid to live this life alone, but I’m terrified of what will happen to this baby if I choose to let go. Jesus, I don’t know what to do next, or where I need to go, but I cannot do this on my own. Please forgive me. I need you. I know I’m broken, pregnant and alone, but I’m begging you to show me how to walk with you.

If you will still have me, I am yours."

Later that night, as I crawled into the backseat of my car, I knew I wasn’t alone. I felt something brand new. It was hope.

Part 3: Broken

I can’t find the strength to do it again today. Not again.

No more will I wake up another morning with this overwhelming ache in my heart. No more will I wander through life alone and broken, an embarrassment to my parents and abandoned by my friends.

No more will they laugh and taunt and spread rumors, as if I can’t hear their judgments. No more will I live alone in my secret shame.

I just want the pain to stop. No more.

I wander up and down aisles of the drug store, looking for something to soothe my hands, chapped and bleeding from weeks of bleaching toys. I just need some lotion.

Instead, two or three bottles of pills fall into my cart. Then some Diet Coke to wash it all away. That sounds tantalizing, and the bubbles will feel nice on my aching throat.

I swallow hard as I pay for my sorrow-drowning purchases. It does no good. There’s a permanent lump lodged in my chest that threatens to slide up and break the dam holding back the flood of tears that consume me nightly.

Back in my car, a strange sense of calm washes over my weary body. I hear my mind decide that I am done with the pain.  Done with being alone and broken. Done with the mess that is me. Done with making bad choices. Done with destroying the lives of those around me.

As I put the car into gear, the familiar heat of tears begin to slide down my cheeks. I’m not sure if they’re tears of relief or anguish, but I know this: I’m done being broken.

Part 2: Survival

Every morning when I awoke in the backseat of my car I, realized I was living the nightmare that had kept me thrashing in my sleep all night.  

How do you operate every day as though you’re not alone? How do you hide the terror? How do you mask the fact that your whole world has been flipped upside down?  I was consumed by the realization that I had done this to myself. I knew the consequences but never believed it could happen to me. Yet, there I was, pregnant and unsure of how I would even survive.

My body was working overtime to make a human being, one that I wanted to protect from my own failures.

With the sun came the heat, and I always found myself eager to go to work. There I could find relief in the air-conditioned building and confiscate the leftover food the kids didn’t eat. It was the closest thing to comfort I could find

In the afternoons during my lunch break, I would crawl into my hot car and sneak a precious hour of sleep. My body was weary from working overtime to make a human being, one that I wanted to protect from my own failures.

At night, my boss allowed me to stay late to bleach toys and disinfect each room. That gave me a bit of peace in the cool and quiet to think. But those thoughts always drifted back to my own bad choices – and a future that seemed so unstable. So hopeless.

Each night as I reluctantly returned to the car that had become my home, I felt completely and utterly alone. My heart was breaking slowly. And I had no idea how I would survive.

Part 1: Alone

"You’re pregnant."

For many, those two little words are the most joyful, hopeful, love-filled message they could ever hear. A long-awaited answer to prayer. 

For others, such words carry despair, fear, and a burden seemingly too heavy to bear. When you’re a single teenager, they have the power to crush your soul.

That’s exactly how I felt when the doctor told me.

Mind-numbing fear gripped me as I left the doctor's office. I don’t even remember the drive home, or how I ended up on the back deck with my parents. I just remember my view of the world was bleary with tears, and my voice shook as I sobbed those two little words I knew my parents didn’t want to hear.

I had always heard silence can be deafening, but in that moment, I finally grasped the meaning. My heart was beating out of my chest as I waited for a response.

"You cannot live here anymore." 

I don’t remember where I went or how I got there. But as I lay curled up in the backseat of my car that night, I thought I would drown in my tears. I shook with fear, remorse, and an anguish I didn’t know was possible. The searing summer heat was nothing compared to the fire of embarrassment I felt.

What about my future? What about my dreams of going to college in the fall? It all seemed so far away.

I was "knocked up," and for the first time in my life, I knew what “alone” really meant. 

(Note: This blog is written by a Crossroads partner who wishes to remain anonymous. The account is entirely true.)