Confessions of a Teenage Mom
by Angela Wenell
A few months ago, my oldest daughter was baptized. While this is an occasion worth celebrating in and of itself and a beautiful milestone in her life, this day had even more meaning for me.
She is 16. I am 32. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to notice that those two numbers are not as far apart as they should be. I was only 15 when she was born.
Like many others finding themselves in this situation, I had a choice to make. For me, the choice was simple. I had been convinced years earlier that abortion was just another name for baby murder, so that never crossed my mind. And while I think blessing another family with a child is a beautiful option, that choice was not in the forefront of my mind either.
It seemed that I, along with my parents, just knew this child belonged in our family. I don’t even remember discussing it much. I knew that I had to accept the challenge. I wanted to be there when she took her first steps. I wanted to walk her into her first day of kindergarten, and go shopping for prom dresses. But there was one privilege and responsibility that was overshadowing all the rest.
I wanted to be the one to tell her about Jesus. I wanted to tell her how much He loves her and wants to be her best friend. And when He was dying on that cross, He was thinking of her. While I know that God is not constrained by circumstances and geographical location, I knew this was a responsibility He wanted me to fill.
Don’t get me wrong. This was not easy. Most of the time good decisions are not, and it is never beneficial to pretend otherwise. As you can imagine, there was plenty of sacrifice.
There were many Friday nights at home, sports took a backseat, and while my friends were going off to college dorms, I was commuting to class. I barely even remember anyone’s name from college. I was just grateful to be able to go.
But in the midst of these sacrifices was one of the greatest blessings of my life. When I would come home from school instead of going to practice or to a dorm, as soon as I saw her smiling face running to give me a hug, any thoughts of sports or being with friends quickly vanished.
Through these trials I discovered some truths of life that the world does not understand. The world tells me that my choice was wrong, that I missed out on a life I was “entitled” to. But I knew I needed to be responsible for my decisions, and what I received in return was infinitely more valuable. What they don’t understand is that seeing through the eyes of God requires selfless sacrifice.
I have often wondered why God chose to entrust to us the precious responsibility of raising children. We are entirely unworthy of it, and as a whole we are sadly not very good at it. In too many cases, parents are heartbreakingly evil. It is truly by the grace of God that the human race is still functioning at all. But I think He wanted to give us a glimpse of how He feels about us.
There aren’t very many people in this world other than my children that I would gladly lay down my life for without thinking twice. Not many others can cause me to feel an inexpressible amount of joy, and an equal amount of heartache. I think nearly all parents would agree that there is a unique depth to the love you have for your kids that you never understood before their existence. A love that compels us to sacrifice. Children are the preservation of sacrificial love on earth. And here we get a minuscule glimpse of the love God has for us, the love shown to us through His ultimate sacrifice.
But when we choose this path of humility, the road paved with the blood of Jesus, we begin to see our blessings the way God sees them. We begin to see the value of life through His eyes. Then, the seemingly mountains of responsibility and sacrifice quickly shrink to mustard seeds. And somehow, in the many mysteries of God’s ways, even out of our sin He can bring the greatest blessings of life. It is in this mystery we find some seemingly disparate truths of God.
As she grew older and we began having more discussions in this area, I soon discovered that my reasoning was inconsistent and my thoughts were incompatible. I realized that some truth extends beyond our human capacity for reason.
In one breath I say she is one of the greatest blessings God has given me, and not once have I wanted to take back my decision for the life I gave up. And then in another I’m telling her how important it is to wait for marriage. Do I regret my sin? How can I not. Do I regret having her in my life? Not for a second. These two thoughts, on the surface, seem entirely mutually exclusive and irreconcilable. Yet I know, without a doubt, they are both completely true.
Sometimes hindsight is not 20/20. Hindsight, in this circumstance, does not bring clarity to reality. This question can only be answered looking forward, and “what ifs” are irrelevant. Abstinence until marriage is clearly God’s desire for us. The path I took required many sacrifices from not only myself, but also from my daughter and my family. To them I am forever grateful. But at the same time, the value of life is not dependent upon circumstances. It’s not dependent upon how it was created or who was involved. Each life is solely dependent on the Creator. No matter what we do or how depraved we are, we can never diminish life’s value, because ultimately God is the creator of life. The value of life is held constant in the hands of God, independent of us.
This is where the world gets it wrong. Where God places a disconnect between the value of life and human action, the world puts the value of life on a selfish continuum of human desire. Life is valuable if it is wanted and if it suits our needs. Where the creation of life was once the natural progression of the union between a man and woman, and children were the crowning glory of women, “family planning” has deduced children to simply that, a plan that must fit our needs. And if it doesn’t, then we just get rid of the “problem” in order to continue our plan.
The truth is that in order to value life, you must also value sacrifice. You cannot have one without the other. And the world hates sacrifice. Therefore, it also hates inconvenient life. Sacrifice is selfless, and it is the ultimate symbol of love, the ultimate symbol of God’s love. Without it your vision of love is skewed, and you simply cannot see the value of life the way God sees it.
But when you choose this path of sacrifice, God blesses you with joyous moments like seeing your daughter choose to follow Jesus through baptism. Even though plenty mistakes are made along the way, and any success we may have are through His grace and mercy, through these moments He whispers “Well done.”
For me, it was in this moment that all these “mustard seeds” of sacrifice were bottled up and put on a shelf. They didn’t matter anymore. And despite what the world says, the decision to see life the way God sees and take on the task of parenthood at such a young age, was one of the best decisions of my life.
Angela Wenell is a wife, mom of three, and business owner in the Des Moines area.