A blank screen.
Every writing project, such as this column, begins this way. Not long ago, we would have talked about a blank page—but those days are behind us, in so many ways.
Barren. Untouched. Empty.
A clear screen can be frustrating, of course. The screen is demanding of us, begging us to fill it with words, with meaning, with information, a story.
But a blank screen is also a blessing. There is nothing to criticize, nothing to judge. There are no spelling issues, no grammatical problems; no confusion for the reader. After all, there is only a spotless void in front of us.
Does a blank screen translate to what we do? Yes.
When we consider those who enter the doors of pregnancy help organizations, we see an interesting dichotomy. On one hand our clients, patients and residents want us to know their stories and to understand the context of the situation they face. They want to fill our screen with their view of the events in their lives.
Tweet This: "We do not know all the back stories behind the lives of those we serve." @KirkWalden
On the other side of things, many we see harbor a fear that others will have a negative view of the choices they’ve made. If their stories end up on our screen, will we judge them?
All of us in pregnancy help work then, must walk a fine line. We know that changed lives almost always come through changed decisions. Yet, making those changes is easier for some than for others. And this is often based on the context and culture surrounding those decisions.
Consider the pregnancy help center client who spends every night sleeping on the floor next to her mother’s bed; a bed mom shares with a boyfriend. She had to hear everything, night after night. How easy is it for her to consider marriage as even an option, when she has never even known a married couple?
Or the young lady, who, early in life, loved elementary school. But as she grew up, her love for reading was mocked by those in her neighborhood, was told too many times that drugs and prostitution were the answer for those who wanted money, and that another baby would mean another check.
After years of being bullied for her desire to get out of her situation, she finally gave in.
We do not know all of the back stories behind the lives of those we serve. Some stories they will tell. Some, they are too ashamed to share, even though they had no choice, and nowhere to turn for help.
This is not written to excuse behavior, nor explain it. And the truth is, some we see have no “story” at all. They simply made choices, leading to very real consequences.
What makes pregnancy help organizations so is that we give those we see a blank page to work off of.
There are hundreds and thousands of pages in the lives of those we see. Some have joyful stories, some carry dark ones.
Yet our mission is to place a blank page in front of her (or him) and say, in essence, “You can begin writing a new story today. From here, it’s up to you. And we will walk with you through the writing process.”
Tweet This: Our mission is to place a blank page in front of her (or him) and say, "You can begin writing a new story today." @KirkWalden
Then, “What would you like your story to say?”
A blank page is indeed a gift we can offer, regardless of the current situation—if we are willing to step into the pages with those we see. Whether choices made in the past came out of horrendous circumstances or pleasant surroundings, a blank page can change everything.
If our pregnancy help organizations want to truly change a culture; if we wish to see lives forever turned toward hope, our victories begin with something quite simple, quite unassuming.
A blank page.