Written By Sister Jordan Rose of the Sisters of Life, New York.
In the heart of every person is a longing to be known and to be loved. As Sisters of Life, one of our primary missions is serving women who find themselves pregnant and in crisis. We’ve come to see that in the heart of each of these women, beneath their fears and concerns, is the longing to be heard, received, understood, and loved for who she is. These are the desires of her heart, and it is at this level of the heart that we can best love and accompany her and her unborn child.
What does this look like?
Come with compassion: Take a moment to walk in her shoes in your own mind and heart. What vulnerabilities might she be experiencing? Maybe it’s isolation: no one is there to support her, especially the people she thought loved her most. Maybe she’s facing the unknown and is afraid her dreams are no longer possible: becoming pregnant and having this child was not part of the future she had envisioned for herself. Putting yourself in her position can enable your heart to receive her with greater love and solidarity.
Listen to her heart: When one meets a woman in crisis, it’s easy to want to help her solve her problems and give advice, but that’s not what she really needs first. She needs to be listened to. As she shares, it’s important to not go into “fix-it” mode, but simply to receive her. So many people in her life are telling her what to do: her family, her friends, the father of the baby, etc. Giving her the time and space to “empty the bucket” of her heart - her fears, worries, dreams, and desires - is possibly the greatest gift you can give her, enabling her to actually listen to her own heart and make decisions in freedom, not in fear.
Delight in her goodness: She needs to know she is not a problem to be solved, but a person to be loved, a person who is good. To delight in her is to look at her with eyes of love. Noticing and reflecting back to her the beauty you see within her - her strength, her laugh, her smile - can help her to see that she is a gift. When she experiences herself to be authentically loved for who she is, a woman can better discover within herself the strength and courage to say “yes” to her own life and the life of her unborn child.
This art of accompanying a woman who is pregnant and in crisis is nourished and strengthened through prayer - a relationship with the Lord of Life Himself. As we come to know the Lord as He accompanies each of us on our journey, we can receive the woman before us with His Heart, His compassion, His listening ear, and His delight. The One who loved each of us into life desires to love her and her child through you.
A quote from our founder, John Cardinal O’Connor, speaks to the heart of this: “In [the Lord’s] great love and mercy, He designed the world so that He would need us. We would have to be His arms, His legs, His eyes in this world. We would have to be His beating heart in this world, beating with love, compassion, tenderness, gentleness, and mercy for others… What a magnificent concept.”
The Sisters of Life are a contemplative/active Roman Catholic community of women religious, who profess the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and a fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life. We were founded by Cardinal John O’Connor in New York in 1991, and we currently serve in the U.S. and Canada. Our missions include serving women who are vulnerable to abortion, giving them the support and resources to be able to choose life for themselves and their children; hosting weekend retreats; evangelization; outreach to college students in Colorado; and helping women who have suffered after abortion to encounter the mercy and healing of Jesus Christ. Find out more: www.sistersoflife.org