Rob describes himself as a “super pro-life guy.” And after marrying Yalixa, he found himself learning about the two abortions she had in her past. He also describes himself as someone who loves God, and God kicked into high gear when for the first time she began sharing her pain with her husband.
“I’ve read a billion books, I have all these pro-life arguments, and here I am being told by God to shut up and just love her. You know? Just love her. Be there for her. I definitely didn’t want to overstep and get in God’s way.”
When people talk about being more like Jesus, this is something about what it really means, when it really matters, when people are at their most vulnerable. So that they feel safe enough to be that vulnerable.
It’s about not getting in the way and not overstepping, Rob says: “There’s no greater example of this than Jesus, of just sacrificing everything you are, and your life, and the things that you wanted to do, for the good of someone else.”
Yalixa found herself pregnant at 16. “I didn’t know what to do. I was so afraid. I remember hearing other girls saying how easy an abortion was, and how you didn’t have to be pregnant if you didn’t want to. So I remember thinking, ‘Oh it’s that easy. I don’t have to be pregnant anymore.’ I went through with the procedure, and I didn’t tell anyone. I basically just forced myself to forget about it.”
And then, a year later, at 17, she was pregnant again.
She recalls her thought at the time: “I have no other choice but to do what I did last time. I want to go to college. I have my whole life ahead of me.”
It was ten years later that she met Rob.
“I was drawn to Rob because he was a man of faith, and I really admired and respected that. I had left the Church a long time ago, but meeting Rob made me think about my faith. I hadn’t told him about my past, yet something about one of our first encounters made me want to go to confession — for the first time after 16 years — to confess those two abortions.”
After confession, she said, “I still didn’t feel completely healed. There was still something missing.” Once she started to talk to Rob about it, she asked him to tell her “everything he was thinking and feeling, ” she says. “Reading, and talking to Rob about my experience, really helped me to pursue deeper healing.”
Yalixa credits God and adds, ‘There’s something so powerful and beautiful about being surrounded by women who have gone through the same thing. I love the sense of sisterhood that we have there. We’ve all been through it; we all get it.’
The couple’s story is an interview feature in a newsletter just out from the Sisters of Life, a community of women religious who were founded in New York twenty-some years ago and that has expanded since to locations including Colorado, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Washington, D.C. Their life is life — serving God and women and babies, women like a teenage Yalixa who feel that they have no support to choose motherhood in one way or another — through, for example, selflessly giving birth to the child within themselves and then putting him up for adoption, or through seeing a path to parenting after birth. They are some of the most loving people in the world, who radiate joy, and not because they don’t know the miseries of the world. They have open ears and hearts and embrace situations that can seem impossible for hope and healing ever to enter.
Yalixa wound up at a Hope and Healing retreat of the Sisters for Life. There she realized, “I needed to forgive myself in order to heal and to move on, ” she says. “That was the piece that was missing.” She started going to monthly gatherings of women who had had abortions and were seeking deeper healing. The place in her heart where that “something was missing” was now being filled with hope and liberation. She credits God and adds, “There’s something so powerful and beautiful about being surrounded by women who have gone through the same thing. I love the sense of sisterhood that we have there. We’ve all been through it; we all get it.”
Rob emphasizes, “If there’s one thing that’s prevalent in this world it’s that women in particular don’t know their own worth. They don’t know how much God loves them, how precious they are, or how precious is the ability to give life. That’s something so unique, so powerful, and so beautiful.”
Yalixa and Rob have children together now. Yalixa says their presence is such a source of ongoing healing. She feels a newfound confidence in her life as wife and mother and says, “I’ve learned to appreciate myself, and I know that He made me beautiful. I am reminded of the goodness in life when I look at my children and when I see the world through their eyes. It keeps the hope and love alive. It keeps me going.”
Hope and love are vital ingredients in so many lives today. There are so many unspoken wounds from the past that scar hearts and can require miracles for healing to happen. Those miracles require something like the kind loving that Rob felt God was guiding him toward that day with his hurting wife. It’s something to model in the most intimate relationships and in every encounter.
This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.