My guest blogger Chanel Murray chose life in so many ways. I’ve witnessed the tears and even some shame, but what I will remember most is seeing God’s grace rush in as his Church surrounded her with love and gave her courage to make good choices. She is about to graduate from high school and her son, Noah, is one year old. Recently, she read this list of “ten things I didn’t plan” at her senior project presentation. Not a dry eye in the house as our hearts leaned in and learned. Maybe we learn best in the unplanned.
- I did not plan on suddenly having to change all of my plans. I was going to be a mother at sixteen. How would my peers treat me? How would I provide for this baby if I cannot even provide for myself? Never thinking this would ever happen to me, I thought I’d spend the next however many years of my life worrying about no one but myself. It’s really difficult to transition from being alone and only worrying about yourself, to putting another life ahead of your own. But the love I have for Noah makes that all so easy.
- I did not plan on getting pregnant this young. I had someone tell me that I seemed like I was glamorizing teen pregnancy and that I meant to get pregnant. In no way do I try to make it seem like I am proud to be a teen parent because I am not. Getting pregnant at sixteen was not an achievement. Coming to know Christ, getting into college with a scholarship, and graduating high school are achievements. What I am proud of is the fact that I am not going to become a statistic and that I have changed my life for Noah. I do not plan on falling into poverty. I do not plan on going back to my old ways.
- I did not plan on being a single parent. It breaks my heart that Noah does not have a biological father/son relationship. But God has blessed me abundantly with so many men and guys in Noah’s life that already love him unconditionally. I find comfort in reminding myself that God is a father to the fatherless. Matthew 23:9 says, “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”
- I did not plan on an unplanned pregnancy changing my life for the better. When I found out that I was pregnant, I repeatedly said out loud: “My life is over!” I could not have believed that today I would say that Noah has positively impacted my life by introducing me to people who have pointed me to Christ. First, I met my crisis pregnancy counselor who brought me to know Christ. I met my best friend Emma. Her mom, Anne, became another mother to me. I could go on and on with the people God has brought into my life, but two deserve their own point. So, point number five.
- I did not plan on being blessed with a home. When I first got pregnant, I was alone and needed a home. Jim and Shannon opened their home to me. I’m not sure what I would do without them. There will never be words that can amount to the nourishment and restoration that they have brought to my life. They encouraged me to make good choices. From leaving behind friends that were bad influences to overcoming addiction. They provide for Noah and I in many ways. I really don’t know what I’d do without them. It hasn’t been easy. There were times when I was slacking in school, and Jim would push me. He talked to me in a way no one ever had. I’ve never had a male figure in my life. I didn’t know how to respond. I remember wanting to just cut Jim out and tell myself that whatever he says doesn’t matter and even that he didn’t actually care. Now I thank him for pushing me. It was also very different for me to become part of a family where a man and a woman actually love each other, talk things out, and pray together. I see on a daily basis what marriage based on Christ’s love should look like.
- I did not plan on coming to Grace Prep. Christian education has positively impacted my life in so many ways. I have never been able to share the pain on my heart at any point in my life. When I came to Grace Prep, I learned to share comfortably with the people that love me there. I have been accepted instead of judged. I have been loved. I look forward to being done with high school but I do not look forward to leaving my family.
- I did not plan on changing my view on sex. I never really knew what God’s plan for sex was. God compares sex to the love that Christ had for the church which is amazing to me. I was so sexually broken, but today I am forgiven for the sins that I committed in the past. I just finished reading And the Bride Wore White and I look back wonder how I had the mind set on sex that I once did. I am committed to living a life of purity.
- I did not plan on unconditionally loving anyone the way I love Noah. The love that I have for Noah cannot be explained in any language. On December 31, 2014 I wrote him a letter which read: Noah, Before you were born I imagined you in my dreams and pictured just how beautiful you’d be. I didn’t know whether you’d be a girl or boy for sure but I had a feeling that you would be a boy. When I held you for the first time it was a feeling like no other feeling I’d ever felt before. You felt as though you were right where you were supposed to be. On my breast, with me holding you close. You’ve seldom left since. You are my baby boy. I never knew how much I’d enjoy being a mother. I never knew I could love someone like this. I love you beyond what any words in any language can explain. I’ve loved spending everyday that I have with you Noah— all 209 days since your birth have been amazing and I learn something new from you everyday! …you have done nothing but bless me abundantly! I cannot wait to hear your little voice can say “I love you mommy.” Your sweet little raspy baby talk is so much more to me than noise. I love you.
- I did not plan to lose friends and gain 10x as many. When I found out that I was pregnant I lost friends that didn’t want to be involved with me because of my situation. I never really knew why I lost these people. I think they were embarrassed or didn’t want to waste time on me if I was no longer going to be able to party with them. It doesn’t matter to me anymore because I have gained an incredible amount of people that love me. My support group is so plentiful. Full of people that I can call on if I every need anyone to talk to. I love these people and am so thankful for all of them God has been so good to me in giving me the support group that I do. It really is amazing.
- I did not plan on finding comfort in being a young parent. I thought that it was going to take me forever to cope with the fact that I was no longer going to live my life as a normal teen. I have had to give up so many things. Dances, girls sleepovers, white water rafting, and even my Senior Trip. I am finally coming to terms and starting to accept this. It may not seem like much of a big deal but I definitely find comfort in knowing that I am choosing what is right for Noah by being a mom and caring for him instead of choosing what I want to do by having fun.
If you are pregnant and live in Centre County, Pennsylvania call The Pregnancy Resource Clinic where Chanel got help. Their number is 814-234-7340.
If you are pregnant and live in the United States but not in Central Pennsylvania, you can get help through Bethany Christian Services. Call toll free 1.844.824.6673.
You are not alone.