Our church recently did a series called "A Place at the Table". This series was largely based on the book From Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship by Jack Frost. I had the privilege of attending a Leadership event at our church in January and we all received a copy. This is an excellent book and a concept that I believe many long-term Christians have not accepted. We are all God's spiritual Daughters and Sons. During one particular service they interviewed a mom of three biological children and some adopted children. My heart is very sensitive to adoption and I was blessed by her story.
My thoughts were all over the place. As we continue to approach baby boy's due date and my firstborn's birthday (they are the same!) my heart is tender around so many subjects.
I have a story about an orphan heart too. Part of having my firstborn daughter, who was very unplanned was actually a part of my healing through my orphan heart. I had been going to counseling for about 8 months when I found out I was pregnant. My primary concern was an eating disorder, better described as a very distorted body image. Two of my closest friends approached me and suggested that it was time to get help for my eating disorder and they were right. At that time, I had only three different meals I would eat very rigidly. I was running almost daily, training for a half marathon but also largely accepting an excuse to exercise in excess. I was relieved at their confrontation because I really knew it was high time I found some help. The help I needed wasn't really about the eating disorder, although I did also participate in a Body Image Support Group at that time that was helpful. My greatest need was addressing my orphan heart. My counselor who I will forever cherish was central to leading me toward healing.
At that time my orphan heart looked like: trying to earn God's favor by doing good things and attending lots of worship services, competition with others, distrustful at times of authority. I was in bondage to spiritual slavery and had not yet known what freedom in Christ was. I worked so hard to please others which is just exhausting. You never feel like you win when you constantly seek others approval. I had no idea that I was on the cusp of being laid completely bare. I was about to be stripped down from all of my armor during my healing process. It's so ironic that I truly believe this period of time through counseling and allowing God to heal me that I actually abused that freedom and paid a very high price for it through my unplanned pregnancy.
During a successive service in this series, the theme stripped down completely kept coming to my mind. I have had so many worldly successes and a very blessed life. In fact, success has been something that has come easy to me on many different fronts (school, work, friends, opportunities, etc). There have been many times over the past 10 years that I have felt completely stripped down and humbled. My adoption story was the first. About five years ago I was really enjoying singing on "main stage" at my church. I got married in July 2007 and July 2007 was the last time I ever got asked to sing on "main stage" again. I felt so rejected and stripped down, left wondering what in the world I did wrong to be cut from the list of singers after serving on that team for two years. I still don't know the answers to any of my questions but I do know it led me on a spiritual journey forcing me to face how much of my identity was involved in that singing position. Feeling rejected hurt me bad but as always, there is room for growth in the pain. I now sing at one of our satellite locations and my ego no longer needs to be filled by having the opportunity to sing on a big stage anymore. There are many levels of growth that came from that rejection.
In recent years, I failed a counseling licensure test not once (which is somewhat common) but twice (which I have yet to find another person who had the same experience). The second time I took this licensure exam some of the residents at CCU made a good luck sign for me and I was so humbled when I had to come back to tell them I failed, again.
When I had my miscarriage last February I felt completely stripped down again. I felt like my body failed and I took on some sort of responsibility for this.
I still have days when I really want to please people. I still have conversations I walk away from second guessing myself and if what I said was perceived as it was intended. I still struggle to be humble, though I've come a long way. But I can say, without question that I have accepted my place at the table of the Lord as His daughter. I believe He loves me unconditionally and accepts me. I believe He continues to discipline me out of love and I accept that. There will no doubt continue to be pruning in this area but what I really felt throughout this series at our church was gratitude for the ways the Lord has healed my orphan heart.
As a parent, I want to model love from a daughter of the King and not from an orphan heart. I don't ever want to model conditional love no matter what obstacles we may face as a family. I want them to see me respecting and submitting to authority so that I can teach them how to do the same. I want them to see me accepting of others' weaknesses and faults.
I have by no means arrived but thank God for the journey and for a church that leads me towards more healing and growth.