We first met Sarah* through our Hope and Healing Mission for women suffering after abortion. A week after Sarah participated in one of our Hope and Healing Retreats she discovered that she was pregnant. She experienced a powerful grace of healing through God’s Providence during her pregnancy and her life has been completely transformed.
What was your experience of God when you were younger?
My father is not a Christian, but my mom converted when I was a teenager. I was baptized after I went to school. I didn’t know what I was doing; I just did it because a friend invited me. My sister, who is a very devout Catholic, always brought us to Church, but I struggled with religion. I knew there was God, but I wasn’t close to him. I didn’t believe in prayer. I mean, how does it work? I needed to see. I didn’t know who I was. Sometimes, I would go to Church but then I would drop it again; I would say ‘God is not for me’. I think that is why He wanted to do a miracle in my life, so that I would believe.
What happened when you moved away from your family?
I left home because I wanted to find a better life, to discover new things. I had my own business, selling clothes and cosmetics, but I wanted to travel. I grew up in a beautiful family, but when I moved away, I lived a different life. I was hanging out with the wrong people. It drew me into a lot of things I regret, and I ended up having several abortions.
What do you think was the beginning of your conversion experience?
I don’t know how to explain it. It is grace upon grace upon grace. I was suffering a lot after my abortion experience. I thought: ‘How can God forgive me? It’s too much; God is going to judge me.’ My mom prayed for me a lot. She would always ask me: “Did you go to Church today?” My sister told me to go to speak to a priest and he encouraged me to go on a retreat with the Sisters of Life. I also thank our Holy Mother Mary. She helped me a lot.
What happened to you on that retreat?
It was a beautiful time for me, to spend a whole day with the Lord. I had never done anything like that before. During the holy hour, when I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, I felt like something changed in me. It was so healing. The Lord is a healer. After that day I could walk down the street and be happy. I used to be in pain before, but now everything has lifted. It is really a miracle. I know my children are in the hands of Mary.
When did you find out that you were pregnant?
It was about a week after I attended the Hope and Healing Retreat. Nicholas’s father and I were living together. When I told him, he was happy at first, but then something happened. He got scared and said he didn’t know how we could handle it. When I told my sister, she was so worried about me. I was working then as a nanny-housekeeper, living in five days a week and on the weekends with my boyfriend.
How did you decide what to do?
I said to my sister. “I’m trusting in God. I want to see what He has for me.” I prayed to God, and I heard the Lord tell me: “I will do it.” That was a strong word for me. But, He didn’t say: “I’m going to take care of your pregnancy,” or “I’m going to take care of your job.” He said: “I will do it.” I would go back and forth thinking: “This is so vague. Look at all these problems I have: If I tell my boss I am pregnant maybe I will lose my job, and I don’t have a place to live yet. What am I going to?” But then it came to me: Nobody ever in this world told me ‘Jesus is a liar.’ So if Jesus said ‘He will do it’ then He will do it. So I trusted in that Word until He resolved all my problems one by one.
How did God resolve your problems?
God is so real. It’s a miracle for me that I found the Sisters of Life. Imagine me, pregnant, not knowing where to go. I called Sr. Loretto Michael and she was so kind to me. She told me if I ever needed a place to stay, they could help me. At first, I didn’t want to move in with the Sisters. I couldn’t imagine leaving my boyfriend. But to this day I am realizing that everything was prepared by the Lord. I tried to avoid it, but one night something happened and I had to leave right away. I called the Sisters and they told me I could come right away. I went to Sacred Heart Convent and the Sisters welcomed me and showed me the room they had prepared for me.
What happened with your job?
I was so nervous but when I told my boss I was pregnant, she was so happy for me. She let me keep my job through my pregnancy and the whole family helped me along the way. I could see Jesus working. Each time He did it in a smooth, happy way. I was happy at work, I was happy at home with the Sisters. The happiness I found with both, I never had experienced in my entire life.
What was it like living at Sacred Heart Convent?
I owe a lot of gratitude to God. Being at the convent throughout my pregnancy was a great blessing for me. I would come back from work on the weekend and everyone would say to me “Welcome Home!” I would think: “This is my home! This is the house of the Lord!” I had never known such real people. I’ve been in different places but I never saw people so happy. I felt so free! I thought: “I know they’re not going to reject me. I’m so happy they accept me for who I am.” It was a big transformation in my life. I could see people praying for me and it strengthened my faith. It made me believe. God is real! If not, how is it possible that you don’t know where to go and that same night somebody says to you “Come”? That’s why I believe in prayer now. Our prayers are not in vain. God is really listening.
How else did you experience God’s Providence in your pregnancy?
I thought God could not forgive me for my past; I was afraid something would happen to the baby. But I had the happiest, healthiest pregnancy. I had no morning sickness. I was able to work, taking care of three people until the week before my due date. Where was all this strength coming from? When I came to Sacred Heart, I found peace within me that I never had in my entire life. Recently I was reading the Bible. Jesus said: “The peace I give you the world can never give.” It was so true in my life. The peace that is in me moves me forward in everything I do. I don’t know how to explain it; God is so real. It’s so true.
After experiencing the reality of God’s Providence in your life, how did you respond?
I really believe that my conversion came through my pregnancy with Nicholas. That’s how God called me. After Nicholas was born, for the first time I decided to fast and pray. I said: “I want to know who you are, God. I want you to tell me who I am.” You see, I didn’t know myself. We don’t know who we are; only God knows. The way I used to live, it was like ‘if somebody can tell me who I am then I’ll be with him.’ Now smoothly, gradually, God was revealing himself to me, revealing who I was. When you call out to God, God whispers into your heart who you are and what to do. I never experienced that before. God whispered a beautiful thing to me that changed me; He told me I’m a beautiful woman. That’s why I changed. I used to fight with people in every place I was, in my past life. That was no life. Now I’m living in Christ. I can see the difference. I am the opposite of who I was before.
How do you see the world differently now?
I was reading 2 Corinthians (5:17): “When you are in Christ, you are a new person. The old things have passed away.” In these three years since my time in that holy house, I have learned so much. When I see my son, I think: ‘Wow! He’s so handsome.’ That’s the hand of God. I didn’t make him. God made him in His own image. Before, I used to think so negatively about myself. I would think: ‘I’m not smart.’ or ‘I’m so slow.’ But no more! I just want to tell God that He created me beautiful in His image, and accept who I am. Otherwise, it’s like telling God He didn’t do a good job. I am a beautiful woman. It’s true. It’s so real. We are all beautiful people, that’s how God made us.
How has your life changed since you experienced God’s love?
Last week, for the first time, I talked to Nicholas’s father and we talked “truth.” Everything I told him was about God. He couldn’t believe it. He said: “That’s not you.” But I said: “That’s me.” When God calls you, He doesn’t just call you, He dwells in you. He changes everything, your whole way of living. When you are serving God, you have to try to live the way our Blessed Mother lived, a decent life, a life of holiness. So people can see Christ in you. We’re all sinners. But when you have the Spirit of God in you, you have to try as much as possible to stay away from the smallest sin against the Holy One. I never really read the Bible much, but recently I’ve been reading it, and all l can say is, everything is so true! That marriage is a sacrament! That you see God through children, through the poor people on the street! That Jesus came for people like us, for the sinners. When we sin, we think ‘How am I going to kneel before the Lord and tell him I’m sorry? I don’t think he’s going to forgive me.’ It’s not true! God is so forgiving! The heart I have now is so different than the one I had before. If God can forgive all that I did, why can’t I forgive my neighbor? That’s why I forgive my son’s father. God put love in me, to love people no matter what happens.
Are you ever afraid that you’ll go back to your old life?
I love my new life. I don’t know how to explain it. People look at me and ask ‘How does she live like that?’ The happiness He gives me, nobody can take it away. God is so real. I am not ashamed of talking about God. People think I’m going to go back to the way I was before, but I can’t go back again. These days, I am working as a taxi driver. Only, I’m not the one driving. I tell all my passengers: “Jesus drives my car.” Jesus is the best driver! I know I did a lot of things in my past, things that still haunt my present life. But since my pregnancy with Nicholas, everything is so different. From the beginning, I knew this child was coming from heaven, and the devil was defeated. After he was born, my mother took Nicholas in her arms and danced around the room singing a traditional song from our country: “Yesu doudi” Jesus is the winner! I think that expresses it perfectly.
Originally printed in our Spring 2016 issue of Imprint.