He was a junior in high school. I was a freshman in community college. We had been dating for a little over a year and we were head over heels in young love. He was the golden child. Not absolutely flawless, but highly involved in multiple sports and extracurricular activities, in the top 10% of his class and attended church every Sunday. On the other end of the spectrum, I had good intentions but had lost my way. I liked to party and used my newfound "adulthood" and freedom to think I knew it all, but I was going nowhere fast. I was sleeping at my brother’s smoke-filled studio apartment after fighting with my parents and being thrown out. Nick and I clung to each other in the type of way where someone needs rescuing and the other wants to be the hero. Freshly out from underneath my parent's roof, Nick and I handled the situation like mature adults, with a large pizza. Our date was abruptly ended as we had to leave the pizza place I worked at because I couldn’t stomach the smell of our favorite pizza, banana peppers and bacon. As they approached our booth, I got up and ran to the bathroom at first whiff. I felt nauseous, so we boxed it up to-go and headed back to my brother's apartment. On the way home we passed a CVS and I knew deep in my gut that we needed to stop. I was young and naive, but I was well aware that I usually only threw up from a hangover. My random onset of nausea and bloodhound senses meant a walk of shame down the pregnancy test aisle and then to the checkout counter was necessary. I smuggled it into the empty apartment, peed my childhood away and waited anxiously. We sat on the edge of my brother’s bed. I remember it smelt like cigarettes and pot. Nick was 17 years old and had a curfew, so we had to make this monumental and life-changing moment reveal our future quickly. With the judgmental stare from the cashier fresh in his mind, he stood there waiting for me to speak...two pink lines. “What the heck does two pink lines mean? Is that yes? Or no?” The box that explained the results was in the car, so we had no idea. Rookies. Nick returned with the box and we lined up the stick and the box to compare. I’ll never forget his reaction. He stared blankly ahead. I don’t think he blinked or moved or spoke. We were pregnant. Yes, we obviously knew what got us to this moment, but as kids ourselves, we were completely naive to the stark reality of what laid before us. Talk about an absolute mess.
Fast forward to now. And by fast forward I mean endure the hardest and most terrifying and character-building years of our lives and struggle through family heartache and broken relationships and no money and very, very hard work and so much hurt and growth. There were months of eating soup and cereal and two jobs and dropping out of college and splitting up and making up and shame and judgement.
EVERYONE spoke mess into us. We had therapists and family members and constant voices telling us along the way, "Give up. Don't be together. You'll never make it." There was so much mess that everyone spoke into our lives and our situation that it just seemed like this was the card we had been dealt. The odds were against us. Just another statistic. That's what this world teaches us. Focus on the mess. When it's so friggin' messy, you just let it be. There is no point in cleaning it up. You made your bed, you lie in it.
We've never claimed to be perfect and we found a desperate need for God because, well, we didn't have much else going for us. We clung to Him sometimes more loosely and sometimes so tightly, but nonetheless His presence never left us.
“For nothing will be impossible with God."
Luke 1:37 (ESV)
Well, Nick and I have been together ten and a half years. We have been married for seven years and have three beautiful children. We're now homeowners, and business owners, and entrepreneurs, and super serious about loving our God and each other. I kinda like us, but I'm biased. We're sitting in the glorious, beautiful, and amazing aftermath; the magnificence of God's plan for us.
The entire time the world was telling us that we were just a hot mess of "babies having babies," we saw God's magnificence saying, "No, we're a family." When 'the church' was saying, "Hide them! They aren't real Christians. They should be ashamed! They had a baby before marriage," we saw God's magnificence saying, "No, let's use that. My grace saved them. Let them tell their story of redemption to others." When that inner voice shouted, "You can't! You won't!" God reminded us and then SHOWED us, "I have, I will, and I can."
There is nothing, NOTHING, more powerful than the love of our Father. It led Jesus through the agony of the cross and rose Him up from the grave. It leads teenagers through pregnancy, alcoholics through addiction, friends through betrayal and marriages through rock bottom. These things seem messy, and of course not ideal. But when I go back to the scared kids sitting on the edge of that bed staring at two pink lines, I can't help but see the magnificence as well. All of that has led to THIS. This beautiful story that God has woven along through all of our struggles.
If that's you, if you face the mess, do it with confidence. Remembering that our great God's love will also bring along the magnificence.
This is Candace. She hates long walks on the beach and would prefer a short drive to get a doughnut. Her creative spirit leaves her husband constantly guessing which room she'll decorate next and her kids requesting elaborate birthday parties. She'll tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it. But don't worry, she'll make you laugh to soften the blow. Her heart longs to share the realness of her life and provide someone else a "me too" in a moment of isolation. Words are her thing; she writes to heal. God grasped a hold of Candace as a teenage mama, and she's been desperate for His love and sensitive to His voice everyday since.