“Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, ‘You are the God who sees me.'” Genesis 16:13a
The lives and experiences of the expectant mothers that make their way into Care Net centers are as varied as the people reading this message. There is no one-size-fits-all prototype of a Care Net client; we serve young, old, Christians, atheists, rich, and poor.
But there is one startlingly frequent common denominator among the women who enter Care Net for pregnancy testing: More than half of them know they’ll be walking the road ahead of them alone. Over 60% of our clients are single.
Not surprisingly, the most recent study published by the Guttmacher Institute listed “desire to avoid being a single mom” as one of the primary reasons 48% of the post-abortive women they surveyed chose to terminate their pregnancies.
Parenthood is difficult enough in a two-parent family, and national statistics about the trends associated with fatherlessness are downright daunting. The women we serve have largely been spoon fed the same lie that’s been peddled since the 70s: “You aren’t strong enough to do this. You must choose between your pregnancy and your future.”
In 2019, the Sanilac County Health Department in Michigan drew national outrage with a billboard they had prominently displayed in their town. The billboard depicted two young women: the first—distraught and pregnant with her face in her hands, the second—a beautiful college student smiling radiantly in her cap and gown. The caption read, “You choose…this…or this… Take Control of Your Future.” The inferred subtext: “Schedule your abortion today.”
The billboard’s language was shockingly anti-woman, perpetuating an insultingly false dichotomy and insisting that women aren’t capable of being stronger than their circumstances.
Virtually no one would argue that single parenthood is the ideal; we know it’s not. The journey is often a scary one. Single moms face a litany of difficult circumstances all at once, ranging from stigma and shame to social rejection, relational abandonment, financial difficulty, identity adjustment, and the basic x’s and o’s of learning how to be a mom. Add some debilitating morning sickness and a calendar full of prenatal appointments that disrupt a 9-5 work schedule, and it can be a lot to manage. The pressure and isolation can feel almost paralyzing.
But it’s our distinct privilege at Care Net of Puget Sound to move into the gap and remind the women we serve that they don’t have to do it alone.
In the Biblical account of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, we see, in Hagar, a similar desperation and loneliness that is often present in our clients. The circumstances leading to Hagar’s pregnancy are less than ideal. She’s at odds with her support system, wandering blindly in life’s desert, alone. To the world, Hagar is little more than a worthless object to be used and discarded. To put it bluntly: she’s a nobody.
So when an angel of God disrupts her misery and calls her by name, he imputes to her a dignity, value, and identity she’s been too long denied.
The angel asks Hagar two questions: “Where have you come from?” and “Where are you going?”
Hagar only answers the first question. She’s well acquainted with her sordid past, but she has no idea where she’s going. She can’t see a promising future through the bleakness of her circumstances. There’s a direct parallel between Hagar’s situation and the one so familiar to so many of our clients. All they can see in front of them is struggle and uncertainty.
At Care Net, it’s our job to follow the angel’s lead: He doesn’t leave Hagar alone in the wilderness. He calls her by name, points her in the right direction, and promises her a future and a legacy. It won’t be perfect or free of struggle, but the bottom line is that Hagar leaves the situation knowing that she matters; God’s promises are for her, too. The profundity of this awareness almost leaps off the page as we see her marvel, “God sees me!”
God sees our clients as well.
It’s not an accident when a woman finds her way into our centers; it’s an opportunity for us to counter the world’s narrative by offering hope and seeing value and purpose through even the bleakest of circumstances. The God we serve is a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless, and He’s faithful to turn even our biggest crises into our greatest blessings when we place them in His sovereign hands.
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Last updated 07/12/2021