This broadcaster has 562 podcast archives available on-demand.
Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.
December 21, 2021 9:00 pm
Forgiving those who hurt us is one of the hardest but greatest things we will ever do. Melissa Ohden relates the challenges she faced forgiving those, who oversaw her abortion, and tells the beautiful reunion story with her biological mother.
Show Notes and Resources
Find resources from this podcast at shop.familylife.com.
Download FamilyLife's new app!
Check out all that's available on the FamilyLife Podcast Network.
Families have an urgent need for God's Word right now. You can help shape stronger families and restore others in crisis right now. Click here to have your gift matched dollar for dollar until midnight on December 31.
As we've said many times are probably the biggest journey of my life was choosing to forgive my my dad I feel like I've seen more transformation in you since you forgiven your dad you were angry before, but there's something happen when you release that that I feel like he became the man that God created you to be. But that decision was a long journey. Yeah, and it's still a continued decision will just make it in and that is over it literally Q so to transform my life.
Welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationship that matter most and Wilson and Dave Wilson and you can find firstname.lastname@example.org or on our family life Family life today. Probably the biggest journey of my life was choosing to forgive my Andera something was holding you back and in some ways you think I can ever do this been hurt too bad and that he doesn't deserve to die.
And yet everybody has a story and I almost everybody has to forgive someone at some point in today we got back in the studio with this woman that's had an incredible journey. Your life is a miracle in the journey of toward forgiveness that were going to get to hear today is a powerful story, Melissa Oden, welcome back from like today thank you were glad every back. This is day three with you walking through your life story that's also in your book you carried me and just to remind our listeners. If you missed any of the last two days. I'm telling you just hit pause right now. Go back and listen to part one part two because today's building on what we've heard, we are literally looking at a woman who was an abortion has a little baby that nobody wanted and you survived. It's incredible story again to get a go listen to how it happened and we've heard even all the way up to your teenage years were you start find out.
Sort of the rest of the story.
So walk us into now your journey to try to find your identity. How did you crawl out of that to get to a place where you now mom with two little girls and you are an advocate for life around the world your power. Spokeswoman for that but that in start today I started way back to take us back to teenage years and how you stepped into teen years old. You're asking the question who am I yeah I think we all ask ourselves the question that you were.
I think that's where the answer rest and identity comes in Christ.
Yes I know that's an easy thing to say and it's a whole other thing to live.
When you figure that out.
That's where the joy comes in the purpose and that nothing is going to sway me nothing that the world has to say to persecute me or shame me. Those things don't stick and how they can still sting a little bit.
Some days walk us back to that teenage girl when you still didn't know who you are, what were the lies you are hearing in your own head. Yeah that I didn't matter that no one would ever want to hear my story that I shouldn't share my story because this was something to be ashamed of, and it might hurt other people make them angry. You know it's controversial what was behind you live exactly but we do we have this tape that Montara had and I had fear.
I had such deep-seated fear of other people knowing who I was and judging me. It's not anything you did, but you still had that fear. Oh yeah you try to keep it quiet and not let people know large.
I talked about it a little bit I went to a public school and they allowed me to talk about abortion back about go wow, that probably wouldn't happen today. May you and I did and I will never forget. I left a chair open in the classroom for students to see this is what this means. When we talk about abortion at means that this chair would've always been empty and you never would have known me decades later I still have people contact me from that class and say I still remember that speech you gave your person yeah and we do matter. Yeah, even when we may not feel like some days and at such ally, the enemy of our soul is and I think that most of us, maybe Dave hasn't that I have like your life doesn't matter.
You don't matter you don't have any gifts, especially if we had any kind of trauma, sexual abuse, maybe you've been to force maybe you've had physical abuse for any kind of abuse or situation of trauma, and even if you have we still ask that question.
Who am I am I worth anything and guide you're saying is continually speaking that out of saying you do matter so tough is not especially in our world today. The rest of the world wants to tell us well you know you need to be this that and the other thing in an escrow on Instagram jump on Facebook and show you who you should be worth comes from no, no one is ever going to find their identity in those pages. How did you find your identity, knowing that God made me who he made me to be any doesn't make mistakes and he knew who I was before I ever came into existence there so much peace to be found in, and I went to my youngest daughter was born with a lot of health issues and the night before her birthday this year.
I was praying with her and I had said you know what God made you to be the most amazing young lady and she starts naming off some things even mama the holes in my heart maybe even the holes in your heart. God made no mistakes in the next morning, on her birthday. She starts muttering to me right away money don't you just love how God made me to be who he made me to be even the holes in my heart. Those are the words we speak over kids that matters. And they remember and to give them a hope for the future. I can't wait to see all that God has for you and makes him anticipate like all what does he have for me yeah that's beautiful position you know in your book. On page 80 at the end of chapter 7 you write about discovering your looking in the wrong place for your identity yeah give the listener little backs or because you reach out to your biological parents right to try and find your mom yeah connected us because it's pretty amazing how you discover your history.
So go from yeah being this really struggling, unsure of my identity trying to slap on identity kind of teenager to in a forgiving my biological parents for the first time and that's my journey to it is not a one-time event.
You don't just get to show up and out cool. Forgiveness is a daily decision that I make in the world that we live in and finding out more about my experience, everything I learned.
I forgive again and it may not be immediate. You have to work through those emotions that come up the anger and resentment. Whatever it is because you don't know the back story all you know is that your birth mom tried to kill you. That's a hard one to forgive yeah and for me, though you know it was really seeing their humanity, and knowing I fall short in the eyes of God every single day and yet he loves me and talk about race say that seeing their humanity. Your mom tries abort, yet your grandmother is in the room.
She's the nurse in the room you talk about. That's just so horrific to think that's my mom and my grandmother and I have to choose to forgive. It's the gospel. It is, they don't deserve your forgiveness yet God forgive you and you going to forgive them.
Yeah, in our world as it all mixed up to me saying that some people deserve to be forgiven.
Some people down.
You know, if we turn to our culture for the answer were looking in the wrong place so that changed my life and put me on that trajectory to look for my biological parents started looking for them when I was about 19 and it took me until I was nearly 30 to find them all took the law yeah it was kind of this could've been a short search. I actually had some paperwork that had the birthdates on it. But lo and behold, right before I started looking for them. I couldn't find the paperwork I mean that's okay God was there in those details and I would learn a little bit.
I mean I did everything looking through old newspapers going through old yearbooks. I didn't know their last names, but I knew a little bit about their family history of what jobs there were, that my birth mother was a twin set was this investigation. Let's see. Does this match this and where might they have lived and I knew where the abortion had taken place.
But I didn't know if they were from there. So I spent 10 years piecing it together and I actually found out who my maternal grandparents were right before I obtain my medical records, I found my medical records. Finally, in 2007. Most survivors do not have any meta-medical records because we live in a world that doesn't want to talk about people like me so that I can document our circumstances but found my medical records and in those medical records.
They included my birth parents names.
I learned my birth mother's name was Ruth had found her parents and so I started kind of this next phase of my mission which was to find Ruth and my biological father Elliott. I learned that I was living in the same city that Elliott was living in.
I moved there during my 10 years of searching. What that feel like down another street is Surrey else's of the city. Next door is another state right well it was so I grew up in a little town in Iowa and I moved to Sioux City Iowa couple hours away. Yeah so you know I used to go there. Growing up, but I never could even bring myself to go past the hospital there because it it induced that much just to read within me and so I knew God was calling me to move to Sioux City to finish my Masters degree is going okay not to be there that long.
Not really big deal and then lived there for about 10 years.
Find out Elliott lives there started to learn a little bit about Hannah knew he had a family, but didn't know if you never told anybody about me so so he never married your birth mom.
He didn't and now they were engaged in dating for years they were in that story. Now that I know it is very heartbreaking for me. The relationship ended and they only spoke on the phone. I believe one time after the abortion had taken place and that was because Ruth was told she had to sell her engagement ring in order to pay for the abortion who told her to sell her parents so talk about trauma for Ruth and betrayal. She lost everything she did and so you know this was a complicated journey to walk out. I sent Elliott a letter to his office just letting him know that I knew the truth that I'm alive and well that I was pretty sure he is my biological father. I mean, I don't think there was any mistake I look exactly like him and let them know I would be waiting if you ever wanted to communicate and you know sadly I never heard back from him. He passed away about six months after I sent him that letter, I learned that googling his name on the Internet but about that same time in 2007. I did find Ruth's parents and sent them a similar letter asking for them to pass along messages to her.
My grandfather replied to my letter almost immediately. She did, he did. He admitted my life birth was not the intention. I think that was a pretty courageous thing for him and you know sadly he shared secrets about abortion that we know to be true for most women.
He said Ruth had never told anybody about abortion and he said that they didn't have any kind of relationship they were completely estranged I could put my finger on it. Years ago I they named some things that happen in the family and I thought think that's it. We know what it is. This is yeah now we know what that is it's forced abortion that their daughter didn't want yeah they forced her to hang out with the child to survive but they kept a secret for over 30 years that that has a way of putting a wedge in a relationship today so that that's how I ultimately found them, but I didn't really have any contact with Ruth and tell 2013 so had some contact with her family. 2007 and I finally loosen my grip on my career and you know the plan that I had for my life and really surrendered and said God if you are calling me to share your story. I will go and I did. I gave it all up and some people thought it was absolutely crazy safe comfortable life and I went out and I started speaking publicly and God has blessed us and expanded his vision for my life and given me so much purpose, but in the midst of that he brought me to Ruth. We moved from Iowa to Kansas City in 2013, and one of her family members reached out to me then because I had shared publicly that we were moving and they said you know we think there's some things you need to know and that's how I learned the abortion was forced that my grandmother was responsible for this for so much and that Ruth did not know for over 30 years that I had survived the family knew they kept it a secret and I know sometimes people listening must think how could you not know. I know families with a lot of yeah and there are some that you don't tell and I would say this ranks pretty high on the list because once you start unpacking the lies where does it end. But man, my biological family could've been so different if they could.
A face that initial yeah look what happened is resolve. The family was torn apart and they were thinking.
This will protect the fan and yet it tore them apart yeah and relate to that. Yes. Yes. So then how did you meet your mom. We started to email and you pass along letters and I sent her photos and you know we had some really difficult conversations because she questioned how God could ever love her. She questioned how I could ever forgive any of them go back a little bit. Did your mom ever tell you how she found out that you lived in one of her family member saw me on a television show and you know that was initially really really hard for me because I had sought to find them for so long because I wanted to avoid that. Yeah, I wanted them to hear from me first. But there is no way I could've controlled the fact that they kept the secrets that they did and so she was so scared. Ruth was so scared. Scared of me scared that people in the pro-life movement would love me but not love her and so we had to walk that out for a number of years and got to know one another and were so much alike in so many ways. I mean talk about stubborn if you're listening and you know you know you are and it's okay. You are to yeah we know it hundred and 20%, but that was a joy now to just try to start living life together. So the first time that you met her at the zoo and the city. I reached out, you know, we would text him and send emails and stuff, you know, sometimes daily basis, weekly basis, but I really thought we were all trying to avoid being the first one to ask meeting face-to-face yeah so I thought, man. I'm just going to throw it out there and I sent my half-sister an email because she lives in Kansas City, which is also where Ruth lives.
I mean, that's why her family reached out to me when they did to shares those secrets and also say hey by the way you now live in the city that your mother lives in so the city I moved from the city where my birth father live to the city where my birth mother lives and so we met face-to-face at the zoo because I reached out and said you know I'm just gonna say I'm ready to meet.
I hope this isn't awkward for you guys. You can tell me know if you don't want to meet and the response back was yes no yes yes yes we've been waiting and so the first time we met face-to-face and I go back to this, it regularly. We take our kids there.
Every time I pass by that spot. It makes me emotional because of God's where his story of us being restored and reconciled the one another.
That's his place little can people know they're there at the zoo, but she had texted my sister texted me that they were there and you know part of me wanted to run away because I was so scared even though I knew not to be scared but it was just hard and so yeah close the gap walked up to her and my half-sister Jennifer took Ruth's hands and placed our hands together and Ruth said you know I never got to hold you those of those moments where you just can't really do it any justice to talk about it because it's just so sacred that you know that that was God's plan all along. How many times did people thwart God's will in her life and mine. Ultimately God said this may not have gone the way I initially planned it to, but ultimately were going to get back to what my plan was for you but I love Melissa that you had been doing the work of forgiveness. You know that you didn't look at your mom with condemnation but you looked at her with grace and knowing that we are all broken and Jesus brings us back together and redeems us and holds us together, and so for you to offer her grace and love was a huge gift yeah and that's the most important part. You might my kids know our story, especially my 13-year-old she's got out that my feet speaking before Congress, and I know you'll see a run for Congress Sunday you remember our last name not because of because of the high they know that more than anything love and forgiveness are the storylines of our life, not abortion. And so my kids know Ruth is another one of their grandparents. I mean they get to see her as frequently as we can. Ruth is the first person to send a text on people's birthday. First one to send the gift she is just so helpful. I think the part that impresses me so much about her if she could be so angry over so many things all talk about resentment. Yeah her own toward your maternal grandmother and her mother yeah and she still in the process if she was here today, should I say I know Melissa wants me to know that I need to forgive my parents but I'm not there yet is a journey takes time. Yeah, the deeper the hurt sometimes longer takes in Manitoba deeper and I know not every woman gets to experience their child being alive after Napoleon you know I think we have to acknowledge that Ruth is very aware of that. I wanted to ask you what you say to mom's and their stances involved as well, who chose abortion and their child is not alive. You are just as loved as Ruth is your child may not be here on this earth to share that with you but I am and I think that's part of my mission, and there is always hope and there is healing to be found in other so many places that offer great healing ministry support to women and men after an abortion.
There are pregnancy centers that offer so many different healing ministries that people can take advantage of.
I'm wondering which you mind praying just for listeners that are just feeling like it it's it's such an emotional topic anyway and I'm wondering if you could just pray for listeners are struggling father that we just thank you for the opportunity to share life changing experiences Lord as painful as complicated as messy as they can sometimes appear to be Lord, we know that you are in the midst of all of those things and that's where hope comes in knowing that you have a purpose and a plan for every life that there is no circumstance, Lord, that is too far gone for you and so we pray Lord today specifically for the people who you know are searching for you, Lord, may they see you made a feel. You may they trust in you Lord, even when they can't see what the next step is going to be and we pray Lord to for those who have been impacted by abortion.
The matter what that experiences Lord.
Can you impress upon their hearts that their loved that their life matters and that there is no such thing as being unwanted unworthy or alone in this world Lord and we pray Lord for all of us together to do your purposes in this world to shake off the shackles of shame to speak the words. In truth in love, and be the salt and the light in this world, Lord, that desperately need said and has we are salt and light Lord. Can we also be your hands and feet with our actions and with our words.
In Jesus name we pray. If you would like information about how to get in touch with Melissa Oden, all of the information she gave just a minute ago about her website about how to engage with her on social media find the website for the ministry. All of that is on our website of family life to the.com so it's easy to go there and find out how you can connect with Melissa and her ministry. We also have copies of Moses book you carried me a daughter's memoir available. You can order back from us email@example.com or you can call one 800 FL today to get your copy again. The title of Melissa Oden's book is you carried me a daughter's memoir order unwanted family life to the.com or call to order at 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F is in family L as in life and in the word today that I know for some of you. You have a lot to get taken care of. Between now and Saturday morning when we get up and open presents and celebrate Christmas but I know some of you celebrate Christmas on Friday night, but again, the hours are short between here and Christmas and there's still a lot for many of us to do.
We are hoping that on that list of things to do. You might include making a urine contribution to family life to the if God has used this ministry. This radio program in your life this year, making you urine contribution is one way that you can say thank you for how you have ministered to me this year. In addition to that you're saying I will see this ministry continue to grow and be effective in the years ahead.
You're giving toward the future and toward effectively developing godly marriages and families whatever amount you give good news is it to be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of about $2.3 million.
We recently have an additional gift to our matching gift fund.
We are praying that we now and the end of next week will be able to take full advantage of this new matching gift. That's why were asking every family like today list or to either go online or call and make as generous a urine contribution as you possibly can. Our website is family life to the.com easy to donate online or call one 800 FL today and donate by phone when you do would love to send you as a thank you gift a devotional book that you can use in the new year from Dane organ book from the book of Psalms called in the Lord. I take refuge, hundred and 50 daily devotions from Psalms again. That's our gift to you. When you make a urine donation today that Armando family life to the.com or call one 800 FL today and please do pray that will be able to take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity and we hope you can join us again tomorrow when were going to turn our hearts toward the celebration of the birth of Christ in her message from Pastor Clint Griffith, Trent and his wife Andrea speak or we come to remember merge getaways.
He's gonna point us to how we make room for Jesus in our lives the same way that Jesus had to be made room for when he came to earth. The first time. Hope you can tune in for that on behalf of our host statement and will sometime block the pain will see you back next time for another edition of family life today, production of family life crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most