Editor's note: Thirty-six years ago this week, the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade overturned all state and federal laws that outlawed or restricted abortion. To mark this anniversary, this week we offer a series of stories on people who are fighting to protect the life of the unborn, including Carrie Goad, whose testimony follows:
By Carrie Goad
I had an ordinary childhood. Nothing that would foreshadow what my future held in store for me. I came from a good family with three brothers and loving parents. While my roots were Catholic, we were non-practicing. I was a happy child and a good student. For my freshman and sophomore years of high school I was privileged enough to attend St. Margaret's School, an all-girls boarding school. But like most of the girls there, I didn't realize what a privilege this was and yearned for the freedom of public school back home. My junior year I was allowed to return to public school. That was the year my life changed forever.
Enjoying my newfound freedom, I began skipping school to hang out with friends. We were delinquent — drinking, smoking, using drugs — never thinking about tomorrow, only living for the day. My relationship with my parents became strained. My grades were failing. I was spiraling deeper and deeper into a depression. It wasn't long before I found myself pregnant. I was 17.
Never will I forget the night my mother made me tell my father. The words wouldn't come out of my mouth. I was his only daughter, the same daughter that used to say I wanted to be an angel when I grew up. Now here I was trying to find the words to tell my dad I was pregnant. All I kept repeating over and over though my sobs was, "I'm sorry." I knew as soon as the words I needed to say, "Dad I'm pregnant" came out of my mouth he would never look at me the same. My father is the strong, quiet type. A rock. I had only seen him cry once in my life, at his father's funeral.
That night I made him cry.
I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed of what I had done and who I had become. I went from attending a private college preparatory school with a bright future ahead of me, all my family being proud of me, my younger cousins looking up to me, to a high school drop out and teen mother. What must God think of me? How disappointed He must be with me. Mistakenly, I believed God loved only the "good," not sinners. I was a sinner. My misunderstanding of God's mercy crushed me. I thought there was no way He would accept me after all I had done, so I chose to reject Him before He could reject me.
So I became a young mother. It wasn't until I was 23 that God engineered the chain of events that led to my conversion. While my conversion isn't a "romantic" example, it proves that God can use even modern technologies to draw in souls.
It all started with trying to enroll my daughter in Catholic school and needing to have her baptized, requiring me to go through RCIA, which I did. I did it for her, not for me — or so I thought. One day I happened to have EWTN turned on the TV for background noise while I was cleaning. I heard a prayer being sung. It was the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy in song. It caught my ear. I stopped and watched. Though I didn't know what I was listening to, the words were so beautiful they made me cry. The words "have mercy on us and on the whole world" resonated in my heart.
A couple months later, I logged on to the Internet search engine Google and typed in those words, "have mercy on us and on the whole world." They were the only words I remembered. I wanted to hear the song one more time. After much searching, I finally came to the Marians' website, thedivinemercy.org, where I was introduced to the message of Divine Mercy and St. Faustina.
Little by little Divine Mercy chiseled away at my cold and hardened heart. It was the key I needed for breaking down the wall that, for years, I had put up between God and myself. I had even gotten so far I was convinced He didn't exist. My heart was numb. Divine Mercy contained the very message my heart needed to hear: that God loved me and wanted me. He always had. He was not a rejecting God, as I thought Him to be. Rather, He was full of mercy!
Jesus told St. Faustina, "The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy" (Diary, 723).
Today I am 27 years old. My husband and I are going on 11 years together. We now have four beautiful daughters. My experience as a troubled teen has served as a catalyst to volunteer at an unplanned pregnancy center helping other girls in similar situations to mine. With my GED, I went to community college and received my associate's degree. It took me five years to earn a two-year degree, but I did it and I did it with honors, magna cum laude!
I attended George Washington University before transferring to Shenandoah University. Jesus gave me enough education for me to realize that I am smart and capable of learning before showing me that, for now, my place is with my kids and working towards Him.
Jesus didn't want to be just a part of my life; He wanted to be my life, so I joined the Lay Missionaries of Charity, which requires total abandonment to God's will, with child-like trust in His fatherly care, and service to those in greatest need.
I will never forget my first meeting a year and a half ago. I was very nervous. While praying in the church, I looked up, and directly across from me was the image of The Divine Mercy. What comfort it brought to my soul! Not only that, but my Lay Missionaries of Charity group recently announced that, from here on out, the renewal of vows would be done on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday!
I was also astonished when visiting the Missionary of Charity Sisters for the first time and discovered that not only do they pray the Rosary while they work, but they also pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet as well.
When researching third orders I felt strongly about wanting to do something with Divine Mercy, but I couldn't find anything. The Lay Missionaries of Charity called to my heart. Thankfully, I listened.
I've lived long enough to know there truly is a dark side to the world. Most people either overlook it or can't handle it, but it's there — and that's the beautiful part about Divine Mercy. Through The Divine Mercy, we can take comfort and have courage that Christ's mercy is more powerful than evil.
Every day, I not only pray for myself, but I pray for mercy on the whole world. God knows it needs it. And for the record, I have turned my mother into a Divine Mercy follower as well!
Jesus, I trust in You!