I sat in the church pew, sixteen and pregnant.
They say guilt makes you sweat like a hooker in church, but I’d have given her a run for her money, no doubt.
I was sitting there in between bathroom trips, fidgety and counting down the minutes until it was time to leave. It wasn’t really my scene, but a friend invited me and I agreed.
My eyes fixated on the envelope in front of me, placed strategically on the back of the pew.
*Guest form* If you’re new here, please fill out.
I chuckled a little inside. When I left, I’d leave no evidence of my being here, except maybe a lingering rumor or two.
I wondered if anyone filled them out.
I wondered when the sermon would be over.
I wondered what I would have for lunch.
I wondered what it was that had convinced me to sit here uncomfortably in the midst of the morning sickness and the awkwardness,
when the tone of the preacher’s voice changed and I slowly looked up.
“She was there on the account of adultery, which was punishable by stoning.”
My mild perspiration turned into a heavy sweat.
I didn’t know this story or many stories from the Bible, but I’d read the summary of “The Scarlett Letter” for that pop quiz in tenth grade, so I knew what it meant to be adulterous.
Ironically, I knew better than anyone.
“Stoning?” I thought. I was shocked. My stomach clenched.
Then what he said next made my belly release and instead get a lump in my throat and an ache in my chest.
“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
I felt like the words were meant for me.
I sideways glanced at the girl to my left, sitting on the edge of the pew. Had she sinned like me?
I slowly cast my eyes to the couple on my right. Had they been through the same trenches? Had they made bad decisions?
From the very last pew, I stared at the preacher. Could he have truly sinned like me, like he says? Could he have done something punishable by stoning?
Because just moments ago I thought this sin I had committed was the special kind. The unforgivable kind. The kind that makes you unlovable. The kind that you can’t escape. The kind that holds you hostage.
I thought that because I carried the proof of my sin everywhere I went that my sin was the only kind that truly followed me.
And as I sat there on that pew listening to this story, God began working on me.
That’s how he planted a seed; a seed that would take me way too long to water. A seed that I let dry up sometimes but even that sin He saw as forgivable.
And as I sit and think of that first moment I felt God’s grace, I wonder what it says about how we treat people.
It wasn’t the whispers people spoke of me that led me to Christ. It wasn’t an acquaintance who treated me differently that won me over.
It wasn’t a comment. It wasn’t a stare. It wasn’t silence. It wasn’t the side-eye or the sadness or the surprise or the glares.
It was the comfort.
It wasn’t telling me what I’d done wrong. It was showing me I wasn’t alone.
I had thought, “did the preacher know I was coming?” with how sure I felt in that moment that the words were meant for me. But how could he?
I never knew for sure, but I do know that God used him.
I do know that I want God to use me.
I now feel so strongly about the power of planting a seed
because I’ve seen firsthand just what it means
to replace our desire to condemn with an act of comforting.