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A Message to Toni Braxton

A Message to Toni Braxton AP Photo Achmad Ibrahim

AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim

Susan E. Wills - published on 05/23/14

You can find hope and healing from the pain of your abortion.

Toni, I haven’t had a chance to read your book (I will!), but based on the media stories about your continued suffering from the loss of your baby in an abortion, I felt like I had to write you now anyway.

You are not alone, Toni! You can find peace again and experience the merciful love that God has for you. All he asks of us is genuine regret for what we’ve done and that we ask for his forgiveness.

So many women who’ve lost a child in an abortion (and many hundreds of them have shared their stories with me) believe that God cannot forgive them for what happened to their child. In fact, the biggest obstacle to their finding peace and happiness again is that they are convinced that abortion is too awful for God to forgive.

One woman wrote: “I have had so much pain: the shame and guilt and the fear that God hates me. I still cry every day and think of my baby. … How can God ever forgive me?”    

And later, when a tragedy or illness or setback happens, they are sure that God is punishing them for the abortion. That is not how God deals with us! Remember: “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)  

The second biggest obstacle to finding peace again is that you must forgive yourself. I know that is easier said than done. But, you know, if God is great enough to forgive you (and I promise you he is), who are you to say “I won’t forgive myself, I don’t deserve it”?

None of us deserves forgiveness for all the stupid things we’ve done in our lives, but we can’t allow ourselves to be trapped in a spiral of self-hatred and self-punishment. You need to be strong, happy and balanced for yourself and for your kids. They deserve to have the mom you are at your best.

How am I qualified to say these things to you? I’ve seen the miracle that God works in women’s lives when they reach the point that they can no longer cope with their grief, when they can’t bear to suffer any longer, when they need help to overcome the alcohol and drug dependencies they developed trying to forget what happened and trying to deaden their pain, when they at last are desperate enough to finally approach God for forgiveness through post-abortion ministries like Project Rachel.

Here’s what one woman wrote about her experience:

After my abortion I was broken and desperate for help. I turned to Project Rachel. After the experience I felt like a whole person again. Forgiveness became a reality for me, a feeling that I never imagined was possible.

Project Rachel Ministry was started by the Catholic Church over 25 years ago; today there are about 150 offices around the U.S. and many more in other countries. It offers free, confidential counseling for any woman or man who is hurting from an abortion experience–their own or someone else’s. (Many dads suffer, too, from the loss of a child.)

Project Rachel offers help to anyone–no matter their religious background, even if they are so angry with God that they’ve stopped believing in him–through one-on-one or group counseling, one-day and weekend retreats, whatever best suits the needs of the individual.

You can find the nearest office by clicking on the map here.

I have also read a lot about God’s mercy (because I’ve really had to count on it in my own life). The Jesus you were told about as a child–the one who demands so much that we don’t have any time for our responsibilities, like school work, and who’d force children to fast for weeks–he’s not the one I know. I’ve come to know Jesus who is tenderly loving and always forgiving … every time. One who knows our struggles and weaknesses and who suffers with us.

This Jesus revealed himself to many holy people throughout history and they tried to explain to the rest of us how much we are loved and how readily we are forgiven.

He told St. Faustina Kowalska, a simple nun living in Poland in the 1930s, that ”the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy.” Incredible, isn’t it, to think we have a right to God’s mercy? And what soul is more miserable than that of someone who’s lost a child and feels responsible for it!

A good friend of mine who had an abortion, and now spends all her time helping other women and men find healing after abortion, reminded me of something very true: “The process of healing from abortion isn’t about who you are and what you’ve done; it’s about who God is and what he’s done.”

I encourage you to visit to read stories like your own and stories of healing and new joy in life. And then, if you’re ready, give a call to the nearest office. You won’t regret it and you have nothing to lose but years of sorrow and pain.

God bless you, Toni!

Susan E. Wills, JD, LLM left law practice to join the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, where she served for 20 years as Asst. Dir. for Education and Outreach until her retirement in 2013. She now serves as Aleteia’s English edition Spirituality Editor.    

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