by Pastor Michael Salemink
It’s your daughter. It’s your girlfriend. It’s your sister or your classmate or your coworker. It’s a surprise pregnancy. Now what?
What can you say that will keep a surprise from becoming a crisis and prevent a crisis from turning into tragedy? With which words will you bring in God and His Gospel? How will you embody love and truth, courage and compassion?
This moment can make an eternal life-or-death difference.
Take a breath. Allow yourself to be stunned. It’s a really big deal, and you’re not a robot. But right now it’s not about what you feel or what you need. Don’t interrogate. Don’t accuse. Don’t vent your outrage. Don’t raise your volume. The Father Almighty has prepared you, positioned you, appointed you to minister for Him in service to her.
Say, “Thank you for telling me.” Appreciate that she’s invited you into a sacred and sensitive space. Affirm she’s done the right thing by sharing her anxiety and vulnerability. Assure her you love her no matter what happens.
Ask, “How are you feeling,” and then listen. It communicates the sanctity of her life to focus first on her. It also allows her room to reveal what details she feels are especially pressing. And it signals your willingness to come alongside her and carry these crosses with her.
Tell her, “I’m sorry.” This indicates you acknowledge the difficulties she’s facing. You’re validating her internal sense that some aspects of the situation aren’t ideal. She receives permission to grieve and even to confess what she views as failures.
Ask, “What do you need,” and then listen. In this way, she can unload all the concerns complicating her circumstances. Identifying them empowers both you and her eventually to address them together. You’re extending a gentle invitation to have hope and envision a way forward.
Promise, “We will get through this.” She’s come to you looking for community and to know she won’t go it alone. Your fellowship is the most important and powerful aid you can offer. The best way to persuade her that every life’s a precious treasure is to treat hers as a gift and privilege.
Ask, “May we pray?” Thank the Heavenly Father for sustaining our lives and taking care of our hearts. Ask His forgiveness for our sinful shortcomings. Implore Him to protect, preserve, provide, enlighten, and guide.
Ask, “May we make a plan?” Would she like to schedule the doctor? Would she like to talk to the pastor? Would she like to connect with the pregnancy resource center? Would she like to inform any one else?
Offer appropriate affection. Take her hands in yours. Wrap an arm around her shoulder. Hug. Let her cry. Weep with her. Show her the Incarnate God is not afraid to take hold of her, that she need not be ashamed of human bodies, hers or her baby’s.
Say, “Congratulations and thanks be to God!” Pregnancy is never a sin, and motherhood, even amid afflictions, is always a blessing. Our Lord has honored her with this holy vocation. She and her baby belong to Him from this time forth and forevermore!