The Power of Stories

Theresa Karminski Burke, Ph.D.
Founder, Rachel's Vineyard and Pastoral Associate, Priests for Life
Publication Date: November 20, 2008

As the January 22, March for Life quickly approaches, more and more opportunities are available throughout the country for post-abortive men and women to share their stories of loss, grief, and healing. While public witness is not something that everyone is called to, there are many who, after experiencing healing of their trauma, feel a calling to speak about their experience, in the hopes of educating the public about the trauma of abortion.  

Stories encourage and empower the listener.  They reveal the possibilities for changing direction.  They encourage others to forge through what seems insurmountable to discover our strength.  Stories help us relate the pain of the past into the transformation we long to achieve in the future.  The choices and situations we may regret can become moments of opportunity for defining our depth and courage, enabling us to find new vantages from which to make sense of our pain.  Certain stories are retold because they are turning points.  They reveal what is true.  By understanding our stories, we can begin to see some of the bigger picture of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.  Listening to and connecting with the emotional life hidden within the tapestry of the past can be challenging.  Too often we may feel tempted to escape from the reality of the truth hidden in the human soul.

We can choose disconnection and numbness from our stories, but by doing so; we miss out on valuable moments of learning the wisdom our stories have to teach us.  Numbness and denial will always conceal the truth.  We can ignore these stories or we can learn from them and deeply enrich our lives in the process.  If we don’t learn from difficult life experiences we are destined to repeat them, in endless patterns of trauma and crisis.  The repetition is actually a symptom – a disguised way of communicating a story that has never been spoken, listened to, or understood.

Telling our stories gives us an opportunity to explore the rich textures and colors of emotion and experiences that have touched our lives.  This is certainly a generous gift we give to ourselves when we begin to seek healing, but it can also be a charitable gift to the thousands of men and women who suffer in silence and isolation.  Your voice can stir the longing for freedom and healing in their hearts and inspire them to reach out for help.  By laboring through the pain of what our stories have to teach us, we open ourselves to traveling a new path directly into the arms of life.  A life embraced and fully lived.  A life of meaning.  A life of truth.  A life of faith, hope and compassion.  A life that provides a quilt of comfort and hope for the suffering of others.  This is the fruit of healing, which frees us of the shackles of the past by reawakening awareness of our true identity in the present. A journey into our own stories allows us to feel the dark night of the soul and open our hearts to the light and destiny that God longs to share with us. 

If you feel called to share your story in public, there are many avenues you can take to become involved. Silent No More Awareness is a wonderful organization dedicated to giving those who have suffered the pain of abortion opportunities to speak. We invite you to look at their website, for a listing of witness opportunities all over the country, please click here to find a variety of events that you can participate in.  

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 • Email: