The Year of Mercy

Seeing abortion through the eyes of a post-abortive mother…

This past weekend I was privileged to volunteer at a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. It brought back memories of the last time I was at the convent, only then I was a retreatant. It was divine mercy weekend when I attended the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, having never experienced an abortion or the loss of a child. It all began with a controversial research argument paper I had just written for an English class at my community college. In it I argue that abortion jeopardizes the emotional and mental stability of the mother. Someone challenged me to meet first-hand the women who have experienced abortion, insisting that knowing them and their stories would tremendously enrich my understanding of abortion. I agreed to volunteer at a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, as it is designed to help the men and women who have experienced the loss of a child through abortion or miscarriage find peace and healing. But what at first I hadn’t realized was that I would experience this retreat just as though I were any other attendee. And this scared me, quite a bit, actually.

I was especially nervous about going in front of all these women – with all their troubles – and giving my life’s story. In fact, I was dreading it. I have been so blessed with an intact, loving family, so what on earth was I going to say for my 20 uninterrupted minutes? I was right in assuming that the other personal stories would be filled with heartache; hearing them broke my heart. The three women who attended the retreat had all dealt with so much grief in their lives, even their earliest memories were tainted. I waited until everyone else had gone, still uncertain of what to say. I didn’t speak for as long as they did, but I found it surprisingly emotional. When I was finished, I was amazed at how lovingly these women comforted me. In the end, it didn’t matter how different our stories were. Instead, we found the commonalities. Everyone reached out to one another, with merciful arms of acceptance. For me, it was the single most impactful exercise of the weekend. It allowed me to say things I had never told anyone else, hurts that were so buried in my soul I didn’t even recognize them until I began speaking. And then I was able to move past these hurts. I went to this retreat with the intent of helping others, but I found healing for a wound I hadn’t realized I harbored. Although the other women will undoubtedly continue to battle doubt and sorrow before finding complete healing, I pray that they are now assured of Christ and the Church’s boundless mercy and forgiveness.

Writing a research argument paper on the negative effects abortion has on women opened my eyes to the horrors of abortion, particularly on the mothers themselves. But the privilege of meeting these women truly opened my heart. I knew the facts; I understood the extreme psychological side effects the procedure has on so many women, but until I heard each of these beautiful women’s stories, I did not fully realize the intense brokenness and pain abortion imprints on their lives. I discovered that the victims of abortion are not only the unborn; the mothers are also victims, as they were continuously deceived and pressured into aborting their sons and daughters. Yes, it was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but also one of the most rewarding. Women don’t simply wake up one morning and decide to abort their growing baby. So many people and decisions influenced that choice. It is undoubtedly vital to fight to end the legalization of abortion, yet it is also of the utmost importance that we treat the women and men wounded by abortion with the same compassion Christ gives to us. We also must strive to help them find healing and forgiveness in the arms of our merciful Savior.

For more information on Rachel’s Vineyard, visit

http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/

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