“I’m four months.”
The delicate fiber of her voice washed over me as I stood there in complete and utter shock. A single tear rolled down her cheek and she gave me a tentative smile. Struggling to keep a smile on my face, I valiantly searched my mind for something… anything to say.
Open your mouth!! My heart screamed and shattered into a million tiny pieces. SPEAK!!
Seconds passed, she continued to watch me, waiting for a response. Her smile slowly slid off of her face, her eyes now guarded and confused.
She has only known me for a year, but considered me always as a solid rock, rigid and immovable. She was unaccustomed to seeing me speechless, surviving in that school disqualified silence as an option. Here she had been taught to speak her mind. She had been taught that by me.
“You have a voice, use it! Say what you need to say, but say it with tact. You are a lady and must act with dignity at all times, but you do not have to be a silent doormat. Never withhold your feelings, you are only hurting yourself.” I had drilled this into the minds of the impressionable adolescents in my classroom. I could see in her eyes that she was remembering that lesson. I knew she was wondering why my lips had yet to move.
But my heart… it was broken. My mind confused. My soul crushed.
She was only thirteen.
A petite girl, the beginnings of a baby bump strained against her white dress shirt. The two buttons of her khaki pants were open, the seed growing in her stomach already rebelling against the uniform that was required of all students at the alternative school.
Why am I here, Lord? I don’t know how to help her! What am I supposed to say? How am I supposed to react? What do You want me to do?
How do I look at a pregnant thirteen year old and say that everything is going to be okay? So many odds were against her: she was young, raised by a single mother, a grade behind, attending an alternative school. I gazed around the hallway and could already hear the judgmental murmurs of passersby.
That’s what they were calling her.
That’s how they described her.
That’s what I would show her.
In that instant, my mind cleared. The situation revealed itself to me as the dark cloud of confusion drifted away. People were already turning their backs. Friends and boyfriend had already walked away. Family, deeply steeped in religion, had already turned up their nose. She felt like she was alone.
I remembered an Elder at the church said: when Jesus died, he stretched his arms wide. It was as if God was saying, “I love you THIS MUCH.” No matter what I had done, no matter what I had gone through or put others through, He loved me that much. No matter how many times I slipped into sin, or jumped into it for that matter, He loved me that much.
People had been put into my path to encourage me, to build me up, to prepare me for this very moment. Who was I to not show her that love, to not pour it into her when she couldn’t feel it on her own?
That is why you’re here.
My face broke into my patented toothy smile; I opened my arms wide. Immediately her features softened and she walked into my embrace.
Her head rested on my shoulder and her small body shook as she cried.
I guided her into an empty classroom and softly spoke in her ear. Loving on her, I assured her that I would be there for her no matter what. Not wanting to mislead her, I explained that things would definitely be more difficult now, but they wouldn’t be impossible. I reminded her of our faith, that if God brought her to it, He’ll bring her through it.
Through tears and with a quivering voice she quietly told me her story. A story of helplessness, loneliness, and fear.
It was then that I knew that I couldn’t lose her.
I could not allow her to go into the world believing that no one cared, that no one believed in her. She would not leave that room feeling as if she were alone. This teenager, being thrust into womanhood, was my assignment.
I could not fail.
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