We all have parents, whether we physically knew them or not. In my case, I knew both of my parents, growing up in a home where they both lived until I was nine. It was at that point that they divorced. My mother, my two brothers and me moved 2,000 miles away so we could be near my mother’s relatives.
Saying goodbye that day to my father on the plane was a very painful experience. It was back in the day when non-ticketed friends and family could go beyond the security check-point at the airport. My father walked us all onto the plane and paid special attention to me. Through my tears I could hear him reassuringly say, “Everything is going to be ok. You need to be a big girl now and take care of your mother.”
That was not my first taste of abandonment, but it’s the one I remember most. My previous taste of abandonment was when my mother had her nervous breakdown when I was six years old. She didn’t choose to abandon me, but the effects of that event led me to never really knowing my mother as a person.
Those two abandonments early on in my life left me seeking to fill the void in my heart in unhealthy ways. I tried throughout my teens and into adulthood to win my father’s approval—to feel important in his eyes. Worse than that were the choices I made to rebel against God. Thankfully God has redeemed the pain of my youth and beyond.
When I grew up—I mean really grew up emotionally on the inside—not my physical age, I started to recognize and label these abandonments for what they were and the affects they had on me. Now that both of my parents are gone (going on two years), a friend who recently lost the second of her parents asked me if I feel (or felt) like an orphan after they passed.
Her question gave me an opportunity to reflect on that very point. We talked about it a bit. My response was ‘no’. I can certainly understand how one would feel that way. However, for me, I led the life of an orphan most of my adult life. As I actively turned to Christ in the last decade or so, I learned more about my significance to God and the role the Body of Christ was intended to play in my life. I built relationships with other women who were also hungry for God and seeking to become the women He designed them to be.
I was no longer orphaned; I was adopted. I was adopted into the Body of Christ and was now part of His family. Romans 8:14-16 tells us: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
With that adoption comes a responsibility to live life as God designed. Easter Sunday is a marker of that adoption for all who accept Christ as their Savior. Our adoption certificates are signed with his blood. Let us not take that for granted.
Regardless of the relationship you had or didn’t have with your parents, may you embrace the love of our Heavenly Father and His physical representatives on earth as your family.
~ Ardis A. Nelson