The Privilege of Seeing A Soul

By Melissa Ohden

Editor’s note. This ran this week on Melissa Ohden’s blog. Melissa is the survivor of a “failed” saline abortion in 1977. She speaks all over the world including at many National Right to Life Conventions. She has often written for NRL News Today. Reposted with permission.

Melissa Ohden

Melissa Ohden

“In a world where everyone wears a mask, it’s a privilege to see a soul.”

I stumbled across this quote weeks ago, and it both struck me at the time and has stuck with me about the incredible gifts that transparency and vulnerability are in our world today. They provide a window to the soul, a connection to people, that is often sorely missing in our technologically driven, fast-paced culture.

Although I share my life story in the hopes to inspire others, to shape our culture in respecting and protecting life and healing from our various emotional and spiritual wounds, which often are a result of abortion, one of my favorite effects of sharing my story is hearing the stories of others in return.

We all have a story.

Day after day, I witness people taking off their masks and allowing me to see their soul, as they trustingly share their lives with me. The stories are often accompanied by tears, fears, and even whispers. But no matter how the message is delivered, it’s done so with a courage and a vulnerability that touches my soul in return. And I know what a privilege it is that they entrust me with their story and the opportunity to see their soul.

In recent weeks, I’ve been touched deep down to my soul by more people than I can even begin to count:

-An elderly man who shared how he had just started his journey in loving and forgiving his father, who was largely absent in his life.

-I’ve found myself embracing sobbing men and women who have talked about their struggle to forgive themselves and each other after an abortion decades ago.

-I’ve heard the stories of countless adoptees, who, no matter how difficult their life circumstances, have found that the simple act of being alive is a gift.

-I’ve hugged and been hugged by fellow mothers who weep over the difficulties our children face with complex medical or special needs.

This list could go on and on. The people have been too numerous to count. But my encounters with them are even more immeasurable.

People often share that they will never forget me and the message that I delivered. But I can tell you that likewise, I will never forget them.

Names and faces may be easily forgotten, but the souls I encounter are unforgettable.

Years ago, I wore my mask, the one that communicated that I was “just like everyone else,” that I had it all together, in the hopes that no one would look past it. No one would see my soul. It was a protective move on my part. I had learned that there were very few people I could trust in the world with the real me.

The me that survived an abortion. The me that had been wounded by that news and who lived with the daily reminders that our culture by and large finds nothing wrong with what was done to me and will do nothing to stop this occurring to other children, all in the name of a woman’s right to choose.

The me that desperately wanted to find my birthfamily. The me that was discerning how God was calling me to use the life and life story that He had given me.

Truly, by the grace of God, as I healed over the years, as I began to share my story and grow in strength, my masked facade began to crumble, and my soul started to peek through. Now, it feels like I’m a soul simply shining through the package of my body. I can feel it, my spirit, vulnerable yet strong, as I not only share my life story, but simply live my life.

Living life unmasked has been one of the scariest (initially), but now most freeing experiences of my life. And by the throngs of people I meet regularly and whose souls I am so deeply privileged to see,

I believe that living life unmasked shines a beacon of light in the darkest recesses of our hearts and draws others out of the twilight of this broken world.

To all of those souls I have encountered in these past few weeks, and truly the thousands that I have encountered over the years, I thank you. Thank you for seeing my soul, for finding strength in me laying it all bare, and trusting me with yours, in return. I have no doubt that just as I have shown my soul to you and you have found strength and encouragement from it, others will experience likewise from you.

As one life is bared, another is strengthened and shared, and the showing of souls will continue full-circle.

But maybe you’re reading this not as a soul-barer, but a mask-wearer. If you’re reading this right now and are struggling with the weight of the mask you’ve been wearing, can I encourage you for even just a moment to peel off a corner of that mask with someone you can trust? Could you trust someone with a small glimpse of your soul?

I know the fear that you may have in showing your vulnerability, the fear you have in trusting someone with your story, but trust me when I say that undertaking this very process will ultimately transform your life.

“In a world where everyone wears a mask, it’s a privilege to see a soul.”

And perhaps, the greatest privilege of all is seeing your own soul and being unafraid of it and unafraid of sharing it with the world.