Over the past year, I’ve gotten to know Jessica through a small group I lead. She’s a great mom and a strong woman of God. Jess is a 22-year-old single mom and works as a hair stylist at Morgan Christopher Salon in Bartlett. She volunteers in the nursery at her church. If she has free time, she loves to read or just veg on the couch and watch her shows.  If Jessica is not at home or work, you can usually find her at Target shopping around for things she doesn’t need!

“The day I found out I was pregnant; I was filled with so many emotions and questions. ‘How am I going to do this? I’m only 20-years old. What are my parents going to say?’ I was embarrassed, scared, nervous, and basically numb. I went home that night and sat both of my parents down and told them I was going to have a baby. My mom started crying her eyes out and my dad was just very quiet. He finally said to me, ‘Jess, we will get through this.’ I cried myself to sleep that night.

I waited about 2 weeks and then finally told my son’s father that he was going to be a dad. He fell to his knees in front of me and said, ‘Please tell me this is a joke and is not really happening.’ After, I left his house that night he called me and told me he had some things to think about and we gave each other some space to process the fact that we were going to be parents.

I can remember sitting in my room countless nights and just praying to God to please make everything easier. To please take away the shame I was feeling. When I told my brother that I was pregnant, he was really mad. He told me I was giving up my life and all of my dreams. I said, ‘If I thought I was adult enough to do adult actions, then I better be adult enough to take responsibility for my actions.’

One day during my pregnancy, I got a phone call from one of my best friends telling me that there were terrible things being said about me. People were saying that I got pregnant on purpose, that I did it so my son’s father would stay with me, that my family was a white trash family and so much more. I will never forget that day. I was home alone and I just sat and cried for hours. I realized then, I had no control over what people thought or what people were going to say. I cried out to God, ‘Help me!! Please clear my mind from these terrible thoughts and don’t let what these horrible people are saying about me affect me. I need you!’

At that moment, I felt relief. I put my worries into God’s hands and asked him to help me. I knew I couldn’t do it without him.

Things the rest of my pregnancy went smoothly, but it was still hard for me at times. People talked (they still do) and I had this feeling of shame following me around. I would go to church every Sunday and I would just feel as I got bigger, the more I was being judged by different people that didn’t even know me. I would tell myself, You are doing the right thing by continuing to come to church. This is what God wants you to do. The more I told myself that, the more I could feel the shame I was feeling go away. God was working within me.

The day I had my son, God was right there. He helped me stay calm. He helped ease my pain and most of all, He blessed me with the most amazing, perfect, handsome little boy. The first time I held him in my arms, nothing else mattered. Everything that people had said was erased from my mind. The shamefulness I felt was completely wiped away.

God choose me to be Jayden’s mom and from that point I knew that was what I was meant to do. He trusted me enough to take care of him, love him, nurture him, guide him and to teach him to be a man of God.

The first few months of having a newborn were difficult. I had to get used to a whole new life. I was adjusting to a different schedule and learning to function on no sleep. When Jayden was 6- weeks old, I brought him to church for the first time. It was a very weird feeling for me to be there with him. At that point, I felt I was not being judged for being pregnant anymore, now I was being judged for having a baby.

Since then, I have brought Jayden to church just about every Sunday. It is my responsibility to make sure that he knows who God is and how amazing He is. People ask me all the time about Jayden’s dad and what is going on with us. Right now, we are putting our faith into God and working on having Him guide us in the direction He wants us to go. We are also working really hard to co-parent together. We both made the decision not to get married just because we were having a baby together. All  I can do right now is trust that God will continue to shape Jayden’s dad to be an amazing father to our son.

Jayden is now 19-months old and running around like a crazy man. His smile can light up a room and his giggle can make anyone’s day better. He is loved by so many– my family and his dad’s family could not imagine life without him. (The grandparents don’t miss any chance they have to brag about him!)  I am so lucky to have the support and love from the people that matter most.  Most importantly though, Jayden and I are loved by God. 

Sometimes now I still feel ashamed for being 22, unmarried, with a 19-month old. When those thoughts get into my head though, I stop what I am doing and just pray. God knew this was the path He wanted me to follow. He made this a part of His plan and He has given me the strength to be the best mom I could be. Without Him, I would never be able to overcome my shame.”

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