How one woman learned to forgive and heal with the simple trick of self love
OneLife LA is a walk for life, but Jess Echeverry, a Catholic speaker and advocate, is glad the movement’s focus is broader than just abortion—and that the event embraces a term that she once only found in weighty church documents.
The term “human dignity” is rarely mentioned in everyday conversation, but it’s fundamental to building a culture of life, she says, adding, “I was made in the image of the Creator—that’s a pretty powerful thing for a person to believe.”
In fact, she calls human dignity the “golden thread” that has woven itself through her darkest moments and gave her the power to forgive abusers, heal from an abortion, and help other women in crisis pregnancy situations.
At the age of 12, a rapist destroyed her self worth, she explains. “I went through an experience that robbed me of that sense of my own human dignity. It took something from me that I didn’t even know I had.”
From there, Jess’s downward spiral began. An abusive boyfriend put her in the hospital and an abortion put her into a state of depression that led to two suicide attempts before the age of 20.
But through a chance encounter with Jesus, Jess began to understand her irrevocable human dignity. “Everything that happened to me was an attack against my dignity—against who I truly was, and to whom I belonged,” she says. “And once I realized that, everything changed,”
But there was a problem. If she had incredible worth and human dignity, so did everyone else that she met—including the abusive men in her past life.
“And that was hard for me because I had experienced a lot of trauma,” Jess says. “I had a lot of wounds, and I was angry. I hated people. I hated the man who raped me.”
If you check out this video, you know that today Jess embraces her enemy as her brother—it’s a countercultural brand of forgiveness that goes beyond saying, “I’m moving past this trauma” and instead focuses on an imitation of Christ.
“When we forgive someone, we set them free,” she says, explaining that if we forgive someone, we allow them to change—an example that Christ made on the cross.
But Jess admits that it takes time. First, she worked through her own abortion story, saying that her new-found understanding of human dignity meant that she was able to understand that her unborn child had the same human dignity—and need for love.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation she found forgiveness with her healing journey continuing at a Project Rachel retreat. She has since named her baby Esperanza (which means “hope”), and her husband, a deacon for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, made a spiritual adoption of the child.
Her forgiveness for her abusers began when she was able to desire their salvation. “The thought of them having died not having reconciled to God for what they did made me cry,” she says.
“I was afraid for them—and then it became a mission to save them, they became my brothers. Only the grace of God can do that. You just have to have trust and be obedient.”
This message of how human dignity can transform every aspect of a person’s life is the message that Jess takes to the many women she helps heal from an abortion. (Check out By Your Side LA for more information!)
Leading up to the 2020 OneLife LA event, where she’ll share more about her incredible story and wisdom, she has a special mission for everyone attending:
“If you know how much God loves you, then your job is to go out and love other people. It’s your job to be a teacher—that is the challenge.”
Are you ready to create an environment that fosters life?
We can’t wait to gather in celebration on January 18th. We hope you register and meet us in Downtown Los Angeles!!!