Her hands trembled as she nervously gathered her hair away from her sweat-soaked neck. She was nineteen years old and pregnant.
We were in my van, driving to a crisis pregnancy center. I had just given birth to my fifth baby sleeping in her car seat. I listened to this young woman pour out her suffering as we drew closer to the center.
“I can’t keep this baby. I’m so scared. Could I keep it?” She alternated between crying and staring in silence.
In that moment I reflected to when I was her age . . . nineteen and expecting my first baby. The circumstances were quite different. I was not alone. However, my husband and I were not married yet, and we were desperately in need of the mercy of God.
By the grace of God, we encountered people who lived out today’s Gospel. Jesus said to His disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:36-37).
When we thought we would be ostracized and shamed, we were met with love and understanding. When we thought our past sinfulness couldn't be healed, we were shown the power of reconciliation. The compassion of Christ can penetrate the wounds of any soul and mend all that is broken. Christ does this with me. Christ does this with you.
Then He gives us the gift of sharing His love with others by stepping into their suffering. The nineteen-year-old woman who poured out her suffering in the passenger seat of my van gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She found forgiveness and hope.
Sister, I pray that we choose mercy and allow Christ to heal us and heal others through our own wounds and brokenness.
In supporting women choosing life, consider praying for, volunteering at, and donating to women's care centers near you.
Leana Bowler is a wife and mother of five little ones. She is a Holy Rosary enthusiast with deep devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her love for the message of Divine Mercy led her to become a Marian Missionary of Divine Mercy dedicated to spreading Marian Consecration and the beauty of Christ's abundant Mercy. She enjoys finding the miracles in the mess of family life, books, strong coffee, and encountering others wherever they're at in this blessed journey to sainthood. You can find out more about her here.