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December 20, 2021 9:00 pm
Everyone wants to be wanted. Melissa Ohden shares about the struggle she faced after finding out she had survived an abortion, and how being wanted by her adoptive parents and our Lord made all the difference.
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Before you started.
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And it's not a story that you hear every day and so if you haven't heard back that will fill you in a little bit yes is read a book about it because you carried me Melissa. It's your memoir, so everybody at work saying hello. That was an awkward question when people say or published author. What you write about my story and I kinda know like I just going to go where you kinda have to read the book to really understand what I mean we've Artie talked about this incredible story how your mom was told by your grandmother to abort you. You survived the abortion by the way, how many people survive abortion. Statistically, there is no clear numbers because as you can imagine, this is not a super popular statistic report out. People also need to know. We don't even have an accurate number of abortions performed on an annual basis. There are certain states like California who don't even report out the number of abortions. And then when you do see the number of reported abortions.
That doesn't include chemical abortions, and trust me those numbers are skyrocketing.
You don't even want to know that's a whole other conversation that we can have so you know, even abortion numbers are underreported by even back in the early 1980s Dr. Willard Cates who was the head of abortion surveillance for the Centers for Disease Control came out and said in a watershed article called the dreaded complication that they estimated through the CDC 400 to 500 live births a year after failed abortions. I've done the math for you for 48 years you get close to 18,000 people like me who survived a failed abortions.
Now we live in a world that wants to say well you know people like Melissa don't come into the world anymore because we learned back then in the 1970s and 80s that this was happening too frequently. This is why the abortion procedure I survived isn't done routinely anymore because it didn't have as an effective rate as they wanted like that is staggering to me are staggering. I've never even heard that before and so I'm just like weight, are these people talking are they speaking up today tell their story. You're brave enough to tell your story but I'm thinking that most people have not had the courage to share their stories and many people don't even know their story. To be perfectly honest, a lot of families keep it a secret, wanting to protect that survivor.
I have an organization called the abortion survivors network and we heal and empower and equip survivors and families who experience failed abortions, knowing that whether somebody ever shares their story publicly or not they deserve to be supported.
They deserved another not alone. So in our work. We've now connected with over 400 abortion survivors are survivors range in age from infants. So we have babies where we are in communication with their families to support them because families wrestle with these questions up what we tell them when we tell them how do we tell them I was talking to a mom earlier this week at another event and I knew of her, but I got to hug her for the first time.
Her son is four after her abortion failed to end his life.
And I got to say to her, your life matters.
His life matters and were here for you when you have the hard days where he's struggling with something right. Maybe he gets sick he has a cold. Those moms automatically start to go to the place where they say did that decision I made all those years ago to have that abortion is that did this have an impact.
So I get to hug her and say that on the days that are hardware here for you. And as he grows up and he grapples with his identity and who God created him to be and how this world and in abortion impacted that identity work and be here for him to amazing what you're doing now take us back is where we left off yesterday was you, not even they Melissa yet the hospital learned the hearing for you, loving you. You haven't been adopted at this point tells what happened next. Yeah, because I feel like we want to hear this as were talking about identity in these people that are suffering because haiku there asking the question who am I and you struggled with that. So take us back to how did you become adopted yeah who am I I am Ron and Linda's daughter.
My adoptive parents. My mom and dad first met me when I was still in a NICU Philip tubes and wires. I was still fighting for my life in many ways, and my parents often say the moment they laid eyes on me. They fell radically in love with me.
My mom thought I was the most beautiful baby she'd ever seen. You see the pictures okay seeing black them in their eyes. I why they saw who God made me to be your mom see you and she looked you in the eyes and she said you are mine And custom 44 and that makes me emotional. We all will be wondering why you now why does that make you feel emotional because it is that is that just deep yearning. We all have is to be that deeply loved and honestly my parents did such a phenomenal job of raising me with unconditional love. And even when I was being just the most difficult teenager I ever could have been you know when my mom looks back at this. You are bad mom. I why I know I was you know what she loved me so well in the midst of that that it almost blunted. You know that's how much they love me. So I went home to my mom and dad.
They adopted you because they still didn't probably know if there would be any side to fax you have all these tubes in you.
It took a while for you to be able to come home right.
The doctors thought I would face any number of disabilities and and honestly my parents didn't really have a penny to their name their farmers. They ended up losing their farm able to have their own children right. My parents were foster parents initially struggled with infertility for over 15 years, so they adopted my older sister from the Department of human services adopted me I was a, you know, essentially a special needs adoption because of the prognosis about my life and my parents didn't hesitate.
They knew that they were called to be my parents and so I grab a pretty normal hall. We went without a lot of things you know. I knew compared to other people. My parents fought really hard to provide for us and give us what they did, what was their faith like my parents were people of strong faith. But you know it's really interesting for me.
My parents are very quiet. By and large, a lot of the people surrounded by her quiet, but I could've stayed quiet. If if I really wouldn't have followed God and so my parents are very faith filled people are little church growing up. I can't tell you what I had for dinner last night, but I can tell you who my first pastor was.
Even when I was just, you know to three years old. His name is Pastor Dale. I can remember all the things we used to do it.
Our church the going swimming together the picnics was the fabric of our lives. That was our community that's really good for parents to hear because I think so many are wondering right now this church matter.
Can I just watch online email isn't that enough and you're saying no, those are the things that was the foundation of my life and really necessary yet. It gives me chills to even talk about it because that's how important it was to her family into my identity and so I was raised in. You know that very faith filled home and you know my parents very implicitly taught my sister and I and then ultimately my little brother. My brother came along after 15 years of infertility.
He's a biological child. He was the odd man out piece if he's listening you're still little bit.
The he tell you that having two sisters but our parents raised us with the values not only about faith and love, but also about forgiveness and I never really understood that, until I found out the story of my survival and then it all really made sense now I was 14 so in a group knowing I was adopted I look very different than my family. It's it's okay you first start thinking like who are my bio parents did you do you remember wondering, I think it was really my teenage years. It really lends itself to that. Who am I where did I come from where my going yeah where does the how this is all this fit together and so some of that yearning really just existed. I think in that space. But then when I was 14. My older sister faced an unplanned pregnancy. She hadn't graduated from high school yet and in our culture out in the world today would tell people that you have a choice to make.
You have a right that you can exercise and so she grappled with what decision she was going to make about her pregnancy and when her parents found out that she was considering every option which we know is code word for other things. They told her the story of my survival it had spoken about amongst adults in the family, but it never worked its way down to us as children and they told her my story, hoping that she would choose life for her son and she did.
Did you know the story before. I didn't and before they could get to me with that she started told you. Yeah, she didn't tell me everything we were arguing one night. I mean, your parents, just like I am an area she said to me, you know, at least my biological parents wanted me now thinking okay were raised on equal footing here were equally left, we were equally placed for adoption and so when I turned to say something back to her that night about what an absurd statement that was the look on her face really was pain and I thought oh, this is not your ordinary argument. There's something deeper yeah and so the mood switched very quickly and she asked me to set our parents down and and for them to tell me the rest of my story and it was a cold October night, and I can't even tell you where my dad was that night. I just think this is the way it was supposed to be my mom got home from work late and we sat down and I was explaining the argument really expecting to get in trouble and then the truth came out, you know the words that my mom ended up speaking said Missy.
Her biological mother had an abortion during her pregnancy with you and you survived it.
The world stopped in that moment of time. When did you feel everything anger and resentment. Incredible sadness, shame, the weight of the shame is because because we live in a world that says that what happened to me is just a simple right for someone to exercise that it's a choice that people make and it's you know over the last 30 years that I've known my story. It's just continued to snowball to the point that it's something that you fight for that. It's healthcare you fill in the blank. My life didn't matter. That's what I felt. Yeah. And of course my parents didn't know all of the background to Ruth's story and what led to that abortion and part of it is you have to go through that process and you have to wrestle with who God made you to be and I think we all have to wrestle with the hard stuff of love and forgiveness even in the midst of the most painful circumstances that happen in our lives. And so my wrestling started that night with the world and with myself and with God what it that look like it looked like putting on a good face to the world.
I am historically a people pleaser on this element, which is funny because I'm really not anymore. I care about serving people and loving them well, but I certainly have been transformed from that. But I didn't want to cause my parents any undue burden. I wanted to be the good girl. I was very responsible.
I got straight A's. I participated in all my extracurricular activities. I was high achieving, that's who I am but that was also my cover. I am just sitting there imagining this 14-year-old girl in her bed finding out that she was aborted and lived and he said your world stop. He said my life doesn't matter. Like to be alone in your bed wrestling with how I honestly I think there's a lot of people that wrestle with that my life doesn't matter. You feel like you're alone and evening your adoption, your sister was adopted. Still, your story was so unique and you're probably filled with incredible shame, anger, guilt for surviving. I mean guilt for being quote unquote perfectly healthy.
You know I don't suffer from disabilities.
As a result of that field. Abortion is a miraculous yeah I have some quirky little things about me that there the older we get the big and so this 14-year-old size to cover it up on the pleaser become the good girl and yet what was going on inside.
I didn't want to be who God created me to be. I wanted to run away from the truth about my life.
I wanted to distance myself from all of the emotions that I felt and so developed an eating disorder trying to control some thing we all can relate to that when when something is been outside of our control. We attempt to regain control and it's always such a false sense of control, but we do it the fallen nature. Yeah, developed an eating disorder struggled with alcohol abuse I engaged in so many unhealthy relationships trying on all of those little pieces to see how they would make me feel better or make me blend in right eye stuck out like a sort so you're running away from your pain through alcohol eating disorder through probably promise yesterday absolutely never thinking about the fact that you know all of those things were putting me at more risk and where was God in that situation in that stage of your life.
There, but I I wanted to run away from him because I felt so ashamed that you weren't worthy of God, yeah, and the choices that I was making and I think we go through that. Don't we wear, even if we get to the first hurdle in life then we engage in some of those poor coping mechanisms right we sin and we go all man. Now he really isn't going to love me and he was still there and you now I can't even tell you the first day that I looked up and went all right. Lord I'm so over this because it's like knocking your head against the brick wall and thinking maybe this time it's good to be different. Maybe this time it's not gonna hurt as much that I can remember thinking he wants more for me than I want for myself and that's an okay spot to begin and I think you know that's a pretty big spot to be and to say the Lord wants something for me that I can't even grasp for myself right now and at the age of 14 right. You're kind of thinking I know what this looks like at this point, but I want to feel better and I always knew that God made me feel better.
And so it was kind of one step at a time.
One day at a time right for today.
I'm going to try to do one thing better. I'm going to pray more.
I'm going to turn to him and for me really the biggest key that unlocked that door was forgiving my biological parents. I can still remember I walk with my Walkman back when that was it thing you know these box and I would be praying and going little hard to help me to forgive them because he stay angry. I don't want to be resentful. Okay, we gotta go there next time because I don't hold your this point how old are you still young.
I mean six – you're still a teenager while I wanted Melissa to talk to those people hired listeners that maybe are feeling that my life doesn't matter. I feel so lost and unseen. I'm alone or maybe just their parents, their kids are expressing speak to them.
Yeah, you are not alone.
Whatever it is you're going through. Trust me I know how lonely every experience can feel but there is always first of all, somebody in the world who can understand you.
They may not be exactly in your shoes but you are definitely not alone and certainly God never intense for any of us to feel alone that is the weight of the world that wants to separate us the enemy that whispers in her ear and said, just know that God is always near.
No matter what it is that you've gone through so beautiful when you are sure in a story about feeling unwanted. I thought you survived an abortion and felt that obviously I think we all feel need even those who had loving parents who from the second were born just enveloped us with love and said we are special we still wrestle with them. I wanted am I seeing am I really special that you know is you are saying that I went to what we all have read Psalm 139, just remind myself for you for my inward parts, you need to be together, my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth your eyes saw my unformed substance in your book were written every one of them. I just that came to me again to remind that you that's me this every soul ever created by God is wanted.
Even though we don't feel like then there's a person listen right now that says you don't know my story.
I'm not wanted.
Oh yes you are you are precious.
You know I so beautiful to hear you go through that journey because you were left as unwanted and yet you're the spokesman for God's the one who doesn't abandon us once us right thing. I'll just finish with this. The thing that I thought as you were sharing was your mom seen you the first time saying you are mine and God says that over us every single day. You are mine. I love, I was reminded today listening to Melissa Oden sure her story about the power that shame, guilt, and anger and bitterness can have over our lives unless we deal with those issues unless we process that with God and with God's help. Those emotions can control us and ultimately destroy us. But when we confront them in the power of the Holy Spirit. There's a breakthrough that happens it's so important to get the help that you need and be able to press into many of the dark corners of your past deal with those things Melissa talks about her own journey in that direction. In her book called you carried me a daughter's memoir. We have her book available in our family life to the resource Center you can glom on to family life to the.com to get a copy or you can call one 800 FL today. Melissa's book again was called. You carried me order your copy from email@example.com or call to order at one 803 586-329-1800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today well with Christmas coming this week New Year's next week. This is a busy time of year for so many of us here at family life. One of the things we been paying careful attention to is the number of family life to the listers were hearing from during the month of December as many of you know we been talking this month about a matching gift that was made available to us and we been tracking every day saying do you think will be able to meet the matching gift you think will be able to take full advantage of that and we been encouraged by the progress and then something happened recently that kind of moved everything up to a whole new level. We have some friends of the ministry come along and say we want to really challenge family life today listers to get behind this ministry what they said to us as we feel what you're doing is so important. You need more available to you in the year ahead so you can do more ministry so our matching gift fund has now moved from $1.5 million to $2.3 million, which means the next several days are going to be crucial for us here at family life. We need to hear from every family life to the lister who can possibly join us and make a year-end donation to support this ministry. When you do whatever amount you give is can be matched dollar for dollar up to a total $2.3 million. And when you do order to send you as a thank you gift a devotional that you can use in the new year from Dane orc 150 devotions from the book of Psalms.
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So join us in praying for that if you will. And be sure to be back with us again tomorrow when David and Wilson will continue the conversation with Melissa Oden talking about how vital it is that we don't allow our circumstances are passed to define us to determine our identity. It's up to God to determine our identity and what he says about us is what we have to believe will hear more about that tomorrow.
Hope you can be with us for about half of our hosts David and Wilson on Bob Lapine. See you next time for another edition of family life today direction of family life crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most