Monday, January 9, 2017

You Carried Me by Melissa Ohden, a book review

A botched abortion, a baby lives, lies are told, lives are changed...all in an instant. That's the story of Melissa Ohden's life in a nutshell but the story is much more complicated than that. Melissa's struggle to understand her identity takes many twists and turns and over the course of her life, she finally figures out her life is worth living.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Plough Publishing in exchange for my honest review. When I received my copy, I was cautious about reading it. I have a tender heart and stories like this tend to impact me deeply. Before I began reading, I prayed and asked God to allow me to read objectively. I asked Him to let me really hear her heart through her written words and to even be able to read between the lines just a little. I wanted to understand what her life might have been like as a young child growing up in a foster home. I wanted to feel the heartache and pain she suffered as she grew older and learned the truth about how her life began. And as I read, I felt all of these things and more.

Melissa Ohden wrote her book with such rawness and openness that I could empathize with her throughout each stage of her life. I cried with her as she learned the truth, at age 14, that she was brought into the world through the tragic event of a planned abortion gone horribly wrong. I cringed as she learned her birth mother had been told of Melissa's death, a lie shared by Melissa's birth grandmother. Over and over again, Melissa dealt with feelings of rejection and pain. As Melissa learned more about her family, she began to internalize her feelings as a method of coping. Anorexia turned to Bulimia as Melissa tried to stuff her feelings. Throughout her emotional challenges however, Ms. Ohden persevered through her strong faith in God.

In the book, Melissa says, after learning about the circumstances surrounding her birth, "I began to spend large amounts of time alone, brooding in my bedroom. My obsessive and distorted thoughts about my birth overwhelmed me. Looking back now, with the benefit of the professional experience I would gain much later, I can see that I was experiencing a post traumatic stress reaction, plus a kind of survivor's guilt about living when so many others had died through abortion. Back then, all I knew as what I felt: I am not OK; something is wrong with me; I am not loved." Later in her story, Melissa says, "I began to cling to Jesus in prayer and as I did, I felt the guilt an shame and self-loathing that had defined me for so long begin to slip away. I still felt deeply damaged, though, like the psalmist who wrote, "I know my transgressions, my sin is ever before me" (Psalm 51). Slowly, with God's grace, I was able to turn my gaze from my inward pain and look anew on the world around me."

This book tells the story of both redemption and grace. It is filled with love and hope but also heartache and pain. Melissa writes with such candor the reader can't help but be drawn immediately into her story.

It is my pleasure to recommend this book. For those searching to understand deep hurts in life, you'll be blessed by Melissa's courage and faith. For those wanting to understand the pain and aftermath of abortion, her story will take you through a gamut of emotions. Ms. Ohden's memoir will affect the reader in unexpected ways.

Watch a short video clip about Melissa's story here.

Buy the book here

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