Single Rev's Guide to Life

Mary, Mother of our Lord: Only you would know. You could only understand when an angel appears and tells you not to be afraid when that’s all you are.  You’re terrified of what seems impossible. And yet, the angel reads your mind and assures you that nothing will be impossible with God.


The word hits you like a stone in your gut.  Or at least, that’s how it hit me. In the fourth week of Advent, I sat with your faithful to study this story where an angel appears and tells you that you will be the Mother of our Lord. Their faith is strong. They believe you were a virgin. They are comforted by your submissiveness. They are encouraged by your faith. But, that’s not what I see. I hear something that I have never heard before in your familiar story. It wasn’t until today, when that phrase was read by one of your faithful, that I feared the impossible. It hit me right there.

Oh.  My.  God.  I'm late.

My body should have purged that unused egg last week.  Could it be?  Could I really be pregnant? My heart seems about to beat out of my chest. I wondered if the faithful church members I serve could hear it. Could they see the panic on my face? No, they had no idea. It’s only you, Mary. Only you can possibly imagine my fear. Forgive me. I never understood. I was so intoxicated by the angel and lost in the mystery. It never occurred to me just how scared you might have been. Mary, I had no idea. I had no idea how scared you might have been. It wasn’t until now, when I face an unwanted pregnancy. Only now do I understand your fear. I knew you should be scared, but I never knew that fear myself. Oh Mary, forgive me.

Now, I understand. Now, I get it because stones might be thrown at me. Like you, I’m an unwed woman. I’m not ready to be a mother. Maybe you thought that too. You may have been just as unprepared as I find myself, but I don’t have your faith. There’s no angel to assure me. Instead, I fear the stones. They won’t kill me as they would have killed you. They’ll only bruise my ego and soul. You had more to fear. You weren’t just a young pastor falling in love with a Planned Parenthood down the street.

This makes me feel worse, because I never really gave Joseph a chance. He seemed like an accessory in the story.  He never seemed all that important, but he was for you, wasn’t he? He was your protection, I know. But Mary, were you in love? I know you were betrothed and ready to be wed; but did you love him? Were you as overwhelmed by this feeling as I am? Maybe that’s why the angel made sense to you. You were in love, and so you knew that nothing could be impossible. You were swept up in the intensity of this emotion. It captivated you and overwhelmed you so that even though you were safe (though I can’t imagine what contraceptives were like in your time), you found yourself pregnant.

You accepted your role with such dignified faith. You became a servant. That’s what they’re talking about in Bible Study, but that’s not what fascinates me about you. I want to know about your fear. I want to know if you are as scared as I am. And though every iota of my faith in the child in your womb insists that I shouldn’t ask this question, I want to ask: did you consider aborting the child? Did you think of every doctor you’ve heard have that might perform such a surgery? Did you wonder if there was a safe place you could hide? Did you think of other women that have died trying to protect their own dignity?

Oh, Mary, forgive me. I never understood this part of the story. Now, I know why it’s only you that can understand my emotions right now. You can make sense of their power and their intoxication. You understand me better than anyone can. Only you could know. God bless you for all that you teach me and allow me to hear in your story so that I can better understand my own.

Yours, in the Hope in the Child

9 replies
  1. Heidi says:

    Wow – I never thought I’d see anyone write about this! Now I’m really sorry that I’m only a couple of months away from 40 and won’t be a YCW any more! Thank-you for naming what I thought was unnameable.

  2. Katie H says:

    The church’s outdated rules about sexuality encourage secrecy and promote abortion. Thank you for posting your story. I think just about all of us have spent at least a moment considering what our choice in such a situation would be…a position that our male colleagues probably have never been in.

  3. D. says:

    I just went through this same feeling. I am in love, but am not married…yet…and am not wanting to get married for another year or so for various reasons.
    My situation was interesting because I had just gotten finished doing pre-marital counseling with a couple who had a 4 year old child together and were finally ready to get married. They went through some adjustment with their family when the news of unwed preganancy hit, but no one batted an eye after that baby was born. I thought to myself – how different would it be if it was their pastor? What a completely different standard I would be held to, even though I am a mid-30-something woman in a deeply committed relationship! I would probably lose my job–this work that I sacrificed so much of my life for and that I love. Scary. Very Scary.
    Thank you for your story. It came at a perfect time for me.

  4. Deborah M. says:

    “Now, I know why it’s only you that can understand my emotions right now.”
    That about hit it on the head for me. I hadn’t realized that before.
    I had a hysterectomy last summer.
    I’ve never had a child, never been pregnant, except for one “scare” several years ago when I actually might have been.
    But through the difficult process of going through with the surgery, knowing it was the right thing even though I hated myself, I felt a connection with Mary that didn’t make sense.
    Now I know.
    Thank you, Anonymous, for putting words on the feeling.

  5. B. says:

    Amen. In our society, there is incredible pressure to believe that every pregnancy is wanted. I have been in your shoes. It’s never fun. I don’t think I will ever publicly reveal what I would have done had the test been positive, but I can tell you that I about cried tears of joy when “it” arrived two weeks late. Just know that you are not alone. Whatever you decide.

  6. Y. says:

    S. speaks truth. This is the great YCW taboo.Thank you anon. sister for sharing from your soul. You are in my prayers and thoughts.

  7. Maria says:

    Prayers for you, dear sister! Whatever you decide, know that there are countless of other ycw who have faced the same fear, and have done it in as many ways. You are not alone.


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