(by Debbie Ward)

This article was originally published in the Western Kentucky Catholic

The title of this writing was chosen by Sara Jane (not her real name) who wrote the following testimony of her abortion and her experience of God’s mercy and healing . She shared with me that she heard the title phrase on EWTN, the Eternal Word Television Network, after making the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2014. For her, this time of year is especially difficult, filled with dark memories of unforgettable pain and trauma… salt in the wounds … not just of “the day”, but of all that followed. “Yes, abortion does hurt women! That is so true!” she said. “They (abortion clinic) don’t tell you about the pain of the procedure and emphatically deny there will be any painful consequences later. And they did not listen to me.”

Sara Jane heard about Rachel’s Vineyard from her church bulletin and again, EWTN, in which she watched a rerun of a series called, ‘The Post-Abortive Woman – Healing and Hope’, on Johnette Benkovic’s ‘Women of Grace’. Featured guests were Fr. Ben Cameron, CPM, site leader for the Kentucky Rachel’s Vineyard team and a young woman who shared her story of multiple abortions and her experience of God’s mercy and healing. It can be watched at http://www.womenofgrace.com/

In sharing her story, Sara Jane hopes that it will make a difference for others who may be suffering the pains of abortion.

I have bi-polar illness and would like to say it doesn’t have me! I have suffered this illness as a young adolescent. My ability to see things in clarity is a big problem for me at times. All of my life I wanted to be “somebody”; it never clicked that I was / am “God’s child”! After many failed attempts to be recognized as my parents’ child, love, kindness and compassion never seemed to come my way. So I sought it elsewhere.

I joined the military and in 1977 found myself joyfully pregnant. I was somebody! I was a mother who could love her child unconditionally! But still seeking the approval of my parents, which was totally put to shame, my baby and my well-being was being threatened. I found myself in a doctor’s office just getting info on abortion. The doctor started questioning my morality toward the Catholic Church and said the Catholic Church would shun an unwed mother; I would be excommunicated, etc. I, not realizing this, signed the paperwork to have the abortion. But while being wheeled to the room, I changed my mind, telling the staff and doctors I had changed my mind that I wanted to keep my baby! The nurse was very sympathetic saying that’s ok, patting my hand. I tried to get off the table; the orderlies tied both of my hands to the table. I was screaming and kicking, no one came to help me. I can still remember the suction and the doctor telling me to be still (as I was still trying to break free) he had to make sure he got all of the pieces. I was 13 weeks pregnant in November 1977.

Until I attended Rachel’s Vineyard I was never able to live. The retreat was in January 2014. I was apprehensive to go, actually scared of what would happen. But once I told my story there was a calm. I felt God’s presence and healing surrounding me. This burden I had been carrying for so many years was starting to get lighter; I felt I was on my way to recovery. Many thanks to the team that helped and supported me, especially during the ordeal of telling my story. I experienced a peace that I had never experienced before.

The weeks following the retreat I have been able to forgive the doctors and staff for the pain inflicted and for not listening to me. Unforgiveness is a great obstacle to healing. So it was a great sigh of relief to surrender all the anger and unforgiveness. There is grace that comes with forgiveness of others and I have found that to be true for myself, as well. It has helped me to regain my identity and get on with my life. I have put it to rest.

I highly recommend that other women and men who suffer from abortion make a great effort to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. Don’t wait. I wished I had known sooner about Rachel’s Vineyard.  Repent, forgive and experience the mercy and healing of God!

Sara Jane – Owensboro, KY

Are you worn out by one-on-one therapy, or by group therapy? Have you been to confession, but just can’t seem to “let go” of the feelings of guilt from your abortion, even though you know that God has forgiven you? Or are you just beginning to realize how much you are hurting, and you want to get right with God again?

Rachel’s Vineyard offers a unique approach to healing the wounds of abortion. We do not focus primarily on the emotional hurts, and therapeutic techniques to work through feelings (though a licensed professional therapist is part of every retreat team). Nor do we look at abortion as a purely spiritual wound, which can only be approached through prayer and confession (though a Catholic priest is an important part of every retreat team). Rachel’s Vineyard sees the human person as both body and soul – with body, emotions, and a spiritual soul that longs for union with our Creator. There is ultimately only one Healer, only one Divine Physician who can heal each and every wound suffered. Rachel’s Vineyard is a retreat process: over the course of a weekend (Friday evening until Sunday afternoon), our experienced team will accompany you on a spiritual journey, a journey back to God, a journey in which we reflect on the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Healer, and allow Him to do what only He, our God, can do – to heal us and restore us to emotional and spiritual health.

Many have never been allowed to grieve the loss of their children, never been permitted by well-meaning family and friends, to acknowledge the humanity of their children and the loss of the relationships they might have had if things had been different. Rachel’s Vineyard provides a safe, confidential place to do this with the loving support of one another and of the retreat team – all of whom have been through the same retreat experience themselves. Rachel’s Vineyard helps all of us to once again believe in, and to experience, the power of God’s Infinite Mercy, which can heal all wounds, both the emotional and the spiritual wounds suffered during a lifetime – whether they came before, after, or during the abortion experience(s).

We invite you to contact us, and to join us on one of these unique, but powerful retreats. May God bless you until that time!

Retreat dates: April 10 – 12, 2015

Kentucky website:   http://hopeafterabortionky.com/

Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/hopeafterabortionky?ref=bookmarks

Contact: Debbie: 270-205-4388 (Kentucky) debbie@hopeafterabortionky.com

For more information about the Rachel’s Vineyard healing ministry, post-abortion grief and/or trauma, and weekend retreat sites and dates, please visit the official Rachel’s Vineyard website http://rachelsvineyard.org, or call 1-877-HOPE-4-ME (1-877-467-3463).

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