The Full Impact

Gretchen Pacheco's picture

I’ve just finished a week of sleeping on the floor with 159 other young women (yes, I absolutely count myself as a young woman) during a week-long service project and now it’s time to start thinking about spending 20+ hours on a bus, each way, in possibly snowy, sleety weather.  While the pro-life march is still six long months away, the time to plan is short.

 I have to admit that every year when I am on the way back from D.C. (or shortly after arriving home), I decide to never make that trip again.  My brain and body are still recovering from long hours on the bus and short hours in the hotel room.  I tell myself I’ll find an adult from our core team to go or that I’ll go, but that next year I’m definitely flying or…some other hazily thought out plan. 

It’s not that the fight for life isn’t a worthy one or that I don’t love seeing so many people called together by God.  It’s just that I like my warm house and comfortable bed.  Here’s the thing though - isn’t the journey part of the process, part of the offering?  It’s not just that people gather in our nation’s capitol to demand changes to the law, but it’s also that they travel so far to get there, and that they give up so much of their time.  Adults take time off work, as do many teens.  Students miss school, often doing homework while we travel or staying up late the day we get back to finish.  There’s also the financial sacrifice; these trips aren’t free.

It’s not just trips like the pro-life march that witness as much by the action as the journey, it’s also mission/service retreats.  If you’ve ever been part of Project Life, Christpower,  Catholic Heart Work Camps or another week-long service project, you know what I’m talking about.  People are appreciative of the work you do, but their amazement grows when they find out that you are sleeping on the floor in a gym, in some places without air-conditioning, not to mention that you have given up t.v., internet, and video games!  They are also impressed that so many teens would give of their time for a whole week!

It’s the entire package that makes the full impact.  I was reminded of this today as I cleaned off my desk (a monumental task) and came across a disk with pictures from the Pro-Life March.  They were filled with smiling faces, prayerful hearts and people who love Jesus enough to follow Him.  It reminded me that my sacrifice, and all of our sacrifices, are all part of the full offering.  While what we go through is nothing compared to what Jesus gave for us, His example to us is a full one.  It doesn’t begin and end with Jesus on the cross but includes the events before and after his crucifixion, some painful and some joyous.  The challenge is to embrace the fullness of the pilgrimage experience, the fun, the tedious, the uncomfortable and even the annoying.  So as I begin planning for the March for Life I am going to challenge myself to welcome even the parts I don’t like because they are part of the complete journey.  This is what Jesus teaches us through his life, death and resurrection.  It’s the entire package that makes the full impact.

Gretchen Pacheco is the Chastity Educator for The REAP Team. She is married to her Venezuelan hottie, Carlos and mama to their precious baby girl, Mimi. They live in St. Peters with their poodles, Jack and Phoebe.   Gretchen goes crazy for baseball, dancing, the zoo and her nephew Dominick and niece Charli.  She hopes to turn her love of extreme skipping into a professional career. You can follow Gretchen on Twitter @gretchenREAPs or email her