In The Room.
Inside the room is a 13 year-old girl. Pretty, sweet and lovely. She’s also pregnant. This is where I spend some of my days off – in a pregnancy crisis centre.
I sit still for a while before I enter the room to find some form of serenity and am haunted by the reminder that I’m 31 and have never yet encountered what this girl is currently experiencing; an unplanned pregnancy.
I have two options. I can whip outside and call ABC cabs, which will take me to the Crown Pub, where I can call my girls on speed dial. Or I buck up and enter the room. You might think I’d be scared because I don’t want to have to hear her circumstances, or indeed listen to how she might have got into this situation. But actually, the reason why I’m shaking in my heels, is that I don’t want her to ask if I believe in God. She can ask me anything, but not that. Please not that.
Sadly these days, if I’m asked this question, my interviewer can sometimes believe I’m judging them, all the way from their colour of nail varnish to their soul. Such is the reputation we, as an entire generation of church, have accomplished. To some people, we’re the judgement brigade – without the uniform.
A gay friend of mine once told me that the last place he ever expected to get a hug, would be in a church. Pass me the Kleenex, because this was never the intention and I’m bought to tears.
Too many extreme fundamentalists shove out the space for grace and mercy, and hop on the band-wagon of finger pointing and judgement. I believe it’s why 50% of my friends don’t want to step into church, if I’m honest I don’t blame them.
So here I am, sitting in a room, with a broken girl, unsure of what she should do. As soon as I see her eyes, I’m home. Because we’ve all been broken. We’ve all been very frightened at some point. We (the other adviser and I) kick into compassion and just listen. That’s all she wanted. Her friends, family, teachers, siblings are telling her what to do. No one has once listened to her heart.
The words unfold and we sit quite comfortably. Over our hour together, she tells me more and I reflect back with her on pain, her confusion, how this is one mighty life changing decision. That whatever she chooses to do, we’re here for her. I am ready to hold her hand during a termination, should that be her choice, and be poised for post-help conversations.
She asks me if I believe in God. He hasn’t been mentioned until now, in fact that’s an official guideline. Do I quickly change the subject and ask her thoughts on the seasonal Palazzo trouser, or perhaps quiz her on which celebrity should play her in a movie?
If she’s been so honest with me, I have to be with her.
‘Hmm.’ She replies. ‘This is the last place I thought I’d meet one of you’.
Silence comes between us and we smile.
I note to myself, that my fingers are no longer itching for speed dial.
I’m glad I’ve not run, because from outta nowhere I reply:
‘Yet, this is the first place I should be. Here with you, telling you that grace still exists and that you’re very much loved.
…..You will always be loved….’