This picture was sent to me by a friend. Since receiving it, I have had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. It has sparked a lot of ideas and emotions. Maybe it is because of what we do, but most of my thoughts tend to be on how this scenario came to be and how the moment that is portrayed is not the important moment but somewhere earlier on. Below are different thoughts or questions that have come to mind.
What would the differences in tone be in the two pictured? The top picture seems like one of despair. Like she is saying she knows she messed up and the consequences are so huge that she doesn’t know what to do next. One could read into it a sense of need to cover it up. Similar to when Jenna found out she was pregnant with Colby. Her first thoughts were that no one needs to even know about this and she could take care of “it” before anyone found out. That anyone included her mom and me. Praise God that He intervened and showed Jenna truth.
On the other hand, maybe fear of disappointing her parents is the primary driver of her statement. “I have really let them down,” she might be thinking, “what are they going to do?” I knew about Jenna being pregnant for weeks before telling my parents. The fear of letting them down was so big, but I couldn’t hide from it. Whenever commercials came on about baby products I would freeze. “I can’t watch this, they will know that I got someone pregnant. But wait, if I don’t watch it, then they will know that I am avoiding it and think I got someone pregnant.” When I finally couldn’t take it any longer, and the “right moment” never happened, I told them through sobs and tears. My dad’s first action was to walk out of the room. My fears jumped up and started screaming, “See, you disappointed him so much.” But they were quickly silenced when he returned with a box of tissues.
The bottom picture has a completely different tone. More of disappointment, not in something she did, but in not having a chance to live. Here she is developing and growing at a rapid rate looking forward to what life has for her only to see that it would end before she even would get a chance to cry.
Those are the initial, almost of the surface responses that I had. But then, as I was thinking about it, it struck me that regardless of what kind of tone or thoughts going through the top pictured girl’s head, there was something bigger in play here. What lead to this moment? What caused her to feel this way to make that statement?
This is why we do what we do.
This girl may have been told not to have sex. Or, as in a lot of cases that we hear, she was told to at least use a condom or her mom took her to the doctor to get on the pill. “After all, kids are kids and they are just going to do it anyway.” (One of the biggest lies out there, by the way.) Either way, communication did not happen soon enough and/or often enough. It has to start as early as possible with age appropriate information that builds on itself over and over.
The issue isn’t a positive pregnancy test. It was way before that.
The issue isn’t her having sex with her boyfriend, or the guy from the party, or whomever. It was before that.
The issue isn’t in letting her date or hangout with a guy by herself or whatever else. It was before that.
The issue lies in all the decisions that led up to that moment.
It isn’t the last turn that caused you to get lost. If it was, then you just need to go back to that crossroad. It usually is one turn after another that leads to being lost.
And who is responsible for these decisions. The girl? The parents? The boy? His parent’s? The answer is, yes. All of them are responsible.
We know that a couple hours in front of a student, usually their freshmen year in high school isn’t enough to equip them to set the appropriate boundaries they will need to get through life the way they have planned. (And by planned, I am talking more about avoiding what they don’t plan. No one ever plans to have a baby in high school or to get an STI… ever.) We know, that no matter how cool you think it is, our story is our story and as impactful as it may be, won’t be the deciding factor in the moment. Hopefully it will help them make choices before that point.
What we do know is that by training and teaching students on an ongoing basis, we can make a bigger impact than just ourselves in a health class. We can start to turn the tide of peer pressure to abstinence and living with boundaries be the norm not something to mock. We know that when students are taught the big picture, and not just what is impacting them now, they will take it and run.
Also, we know that it isn’t just a battle for students. We need to help parents. We need to show parents that it’s more than just “having the talk.” It needs to start when our kids are young and be a lifestyle that they are brought up in. Open communication. Trust building. Leadership. Guidance. All of these are important in raising children who will communicate; Children who will trust parents enough to share with them what is going on in their lives; Children who will follow and who will learn and be teachable.
Rob and Jenna Crenshaw are founders of Crossroads Club