It is once again “A Time to Heal” as a powerful and innovative post-abortion outreach is in its second round of helping women to heal from the devastation of abortion.
The live, on-line Catholic Bible study is addressing the many issues that come from the aftermath of abortion, said Yvonne Florczak-Seeman, its founder and facilitator.
Florczak-Seeman wants to help other women understand that no matter what, they can be forgiven.
“What I do is use the brokenness of my life to help others,” she said.
“I’ve had multiple abortions and God has forgiven me,” Florczak-Seeman said. “If you give Him the brokenness of your life, He will use it.”
“There isn’t a woman who crosses our path who can’t be forgiven,” she said.
The first session of A Time to Heal, a 12-week virtual Bible study, took place last fall with great success, according to participant feedback, and Florczak-Seeman has been tapped to adapt and share the curriculum in more and varying venues as an overall healing tool.
She said she has women from across the country registered for the second session running now, and like the first time around she’s hearing continually how the Bible study is changing their lives.
“I think we’ve had a huge success,” Florczak-Seeman told Pregnancy Help News. “It’s amazing how many women are coming forward.”
“It’s pretty exciting to see what’s happening,” she said. “They’re being healed, they’re part of a community, they’ve been in pain and their suffering has gone unnoticed.”
With impact of the study evident from the first session, made in part by allowing women to be reached virtually in the privacy of their home, “A Time to Heal” is poised to bring even more widespread healing, said, Florczak-Seeman, as the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded and much of the world has had to turn to technology and remote meetings to operate.
“As the pandemic continues and we find ourselves all quarantined, it came to me that many will be online and that the A Time to Heal Bible Study might be actually what the Doctor orders for all of His people,” she said.
The second and current series of A Time to Heal was scheduled to coincide with this year’s Lenten season, beginning the day after Ash Wednesday, Thursday, February 27 and concluding in May.
The first 12-week study ran last fall beginning in October. Some 40-50 women took part, with awareness for the first study spreading by word of mouth already back then.
Florczak-Seeman said women are often afraid to sign up for a program like this because many feel their shame and guilt will be exposed.
“The beauty of the on-line community is that it will allow these women’s identity to be protected and they will realize, possibly for the first time, they are not alone in their suffering,” she said.
The study is conducted weekly through a live webinar, participants send questions through chat and a moderator passes them along to Florczak-Seeman, who responds to the entire group.
With their identity preserved, they can comfortably become part of a community where they know they’re with others facing the same struggle, and that they are working it out together.
“They can sit at their computer with a box of Kleenex and have their moment with the Great I am,” said Florczak-Seeman.
Women can approach her individually outside of the webinar as well, in whatever form of communication they feel most comfortable.
The study is recorded and then posted later for participants to either return to revisit it later at their convenience or view it if they missed the live session.
“What we found is the women were coming together and finding they can work this into their schedule whenever they can,” Florczak-Seeman said.
A Time to Heal seeks to restore women to wholeness by helping them understand the source of their brokenness and provide them with resources to work through the pain by finding freedom through self-forgiveness, she said.
Florczak-Seeman also looks to expose the myth that abortion empowers women through the study.
“There aren’t words, not enough money in the world to equate to helping women"
Florczak-Seeman is a speaker and author who performs post-abortion outreach. She entered the Catholic Church 15 years ago with a healthy interest in Scripture.
She was trained as a facilitator for Project Rachel by the post-abortion healing group’s founder Vicki Thorn.
While Florczak-Seeman and her approach are Catholic, the Bible study is open to everyone, with healing at its heart.
Also using journaling, A Time to Heal offers healing insight taken from the stories of 12 women in the Old Testament of the Bible: Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Leah, Rebekah, Miriam, Deborah, Naomi, Ruth, Hannah Esther and Abigail.
A premise of the study is that while these women lived thousands of years ago, their struggles were much the same as those faced by women today; they too were wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who lived with their families, got married and gave birth to children.
The study aims to provide an insight into these women of the Bible to empower participants to make the changes needed in their lives to move forward.
Bringing these women to life to help others is key, Florczak Seeman said, because they’re so incredibly important.
“There aren’t words, not enough money in the world to equate to helping women,” she said.
“The Bible really has all the answers you just need to understand it”
Lisa, 53, had an abortion at 16, and told no one other than her boyfriend at the time. She told her husband about the abortion just four years ago after attending a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, only recently told her three children, and was planning to tell her siblings and parents while taking part in the first session of A Time to Heal.
“The shame was so horrible,” she told Pregnancy Help News. “I’m sick of hating myself, I’m just tired.”
Lisa said she’d been living a fake life, trying to deny the aftermath of her abortion and that there are many women just like her.
“It hurts the woman,” she said. “If you’re really pro-woman, you’ll be honest about all of the negative effects.”
“I knew I had to change for the sake of my children as well as for myself,” she said.
Lisa said she didn’t think she was worthy of forgiveness. After attending a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, she said she finally got the forgiveness she needed, and now, A Time to Heal has helped her further.
“I think the Bible study has helped me get through the next process, took me to the next level,” she said.
“Because I’m not finished healing, I may not ever be finished healing,” she added, but, “I’m not going to be ashamed of who I am anymore.”
“God is forgiving, and I finally feel like I was worth forgiving,” she said. “A great peace comes from trusting in Him.”
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“The Bible really has all the answers you just need to understand it,” Lisa said. “Yvonne makes the stories come to life. Those women are like us, we an learn from their mistakes and learn from our own mistakes, come full circle.”
Florczak-Seeman has such joy in her, she said, and it’s because of her relationship with God.
Lisa said that even though she was tired by evening time when the Bible study was held, “I did it, I loved it.”
“I looked forward to it,” she added. “I feel like I gained something from being part of it, it just helps you process it.”
“These women empower us to heal and to reach our potential”
Tina, another participant in the first session, had three abortions before the age of 21.
She has a son with special needs, another in treatment for substance abuse, she is divorced, and was in the process of leaving her sons’ stepfather, saying the whole family is in a form of recovery. Tina said she has been extra protective of her kids, latching onto them to compensate for losing three to abortion.
Tina told Pregnancy Help News she never addressed the grief of her abortions, that she set this part of her life aside and got on with her life, or so she thought.
“It was always going to hang there in my life unresolved,” she said. “I just put that whole part of my life – the abortion part – away.”
“Most people think you just go and get it done - no it cripples your life,” she said.
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After Tina’s father died of cancer when she was 26, she became her mother’s caretaker. The grief of losing her father added to the grief over her abortions, her son turning to drugs and her husband being an alcoholic, all led to grieving on top of grieving, she said. She then came to realize through A Time to Heal how broken she was.
“I never thought I was a victim,” Tina said, “and therefore never stopped to evaluate my brokenness, where it came from and my feelings about it.”
“We as women can identify where we are in the grieving process by identifying with these women in the study,” she said. “These women empower us to heal and to reach our potential.”
Tina concurred with Lisa about Florczak-Seeman making the Biblical figures relatable.
“It’s one thing to read scripture but it’s another to have someone like Yvonne to help you and to plant seeds in you to help yourself,” she said. “You forget that you’re on the webinar, Yvonne telling you the things you wish someone in your life could tell you.”
The Bible study is about all of the things that can happen to make one’s life broken, not just abortion, she said.
“I can’t say enough about this study,” Tina said about A Time to Heal. “It has put all the pieces of the tragedies of my life in perspective, to get me back to being whole again.”
“Through this Bible study I was able to process my life and heal and realize that God had a plan for me,” she said. “It wasn’t the plan I expected, but it was so much better.”
“I had forgiven other people, but I didn’t know how to forgive myself until I did the Bible study,” said Tina. “Some amazing things are happening to me now, and it’s because I fixed me.”
The perfection of His mercy
Florczak-Seeman is in the process of redesigning the study’s content to create healing programs for a number of U.S. dioceses to address other issues involving trauma such as divorce, relationship difficulties and infertility. A Time to Heal could be used in some form in the future by pregnancy help centers, respect life offices, ministries, and small group Bible studies.
She also plans to continue the post abortion Bible study for women going forward.
Florczak-Seeman believes that God has called her for such a time as this, to help others, having walked the path she has.
“I represent the perfection of His mercy,” she said.
Click HERE for more information on A Time to Heal.