The pain is not just for women alone

February 23, 2015

The past Rachel's Vineyard retreat was marked by the blessing of having four men and two couples with us, reminding us that post-abortion pain and recovery is not for women alone.
At the beginning, even with the women knowing the men would be there before they arrived, I heard the murmurs of “what is HE doing here?” As the retreat progressed, one of the women shared with one of the men at the retreat, “I didn't know why YOU would be here… and now I know you were a part of my own healing. I had to see your pain so that I could begin to forgive and allow God heal me of what I carry inside.”

And then we heard from the men, sharing this journey to healing:

“On this retreat I learned that wanting to die does not honor my son and that not only am I hurting myself, I am hurting those around me as well as his memory. I want to live. I want to learn to stop the things that I was doing to try to die. My son deserves more than that and he would want that for me too. “
“I wanted to break this rock in two pieces as I recognized my anger. It seemed to get heavier every moment of the retreat. But then I went to the window where darkness was on one side and an intense light on the other. I saw my son! I don’t need this rock anymore! I have the forgiveness of my son!”
“I want to leave this rock here and along with it a cross I have, so I can give God more than what He is removing from me.”  We let him know that God wants to keep giving to him, and handed him a comfort cross to hold and keep. He smiled from ear to ear just like a little boy who has received his first gift.   

And then from one of the women who came with her husband:
“When I got here I would not even let him carry my suitcase. I leave with a man who I didn't completely know and who I can now say I am so proud to be his wife and even more proud he is the father of my children. Thank you for giving me back my husband.”

And the words of healing continued from the rest of the retreatants:
“You never let me go. I looked at the phone so many times as you tried to call me and encourage me, until the day I finally answered. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for holding on.”
“I didn't recognize Our Lord. I had pushed Him away so I could avoid confession of what I had done. He held me in His hand the whole time, and I didn't even know it. Now I do! He has been there all along.”
“I gave Him all my fears. I AM CLEAN!!!”
And as if all of these incredible gifts of grace from Our Father in heaven weren't enough, He had one more... At the end of the retreat, one of our male retreatants began running towards his guest who had just arrived. He literally ran down the hall and jumped into the arms of his brother. We waited to see what interaction this might be only to hear the most tender of words:
“I am so sorry,” said the brother. “I should have been there for you.”
“I am so sorry I killed my son, your nephew,” said our retreatant. “So sorry!!!”
As his brother held him in his arms, he buried his head on his shoulder and they cried. They had not seen each other since they were young.
Once again we stand at the gate of the Vineyard and watch our new family members return to their homes, jobs, families and parishes. There was so much concern expressed to us about returning to their lives until we reminded them that everything outside remained the same, but they no longer were the same!
They have come back to God and have begun a journey full of hope and anticipation as they find new ways in which to discover how God is loving them where they are and has been there all along. They have discovered forgiveness, mercy and a release of all that stood between them and an intimate relationship with Our Lord. They are no longer afraid.  They are not alone.  
The tools of labor have been put away, and the laborers of the Vineyard have returned to their homes. All is well in the Vineyard and God’s harvest has been incredibly abundant.

Tags: Rachel's Vineyard

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