I am a walking miracle.
I am not talking an ordinary, “I’ve just watched my amputated leg grow back” or “I’ve been healed from a terminal illness miracle.” I’m not talking, “my life was so bad it’s a miracle I am alive” kind of miracle. I am talking of the greatest miracle known to man. I am talking the miracle of not just a changed heart, but a new heart.
I have been an orphan nearly all of my life. The word orphan has been used so much that it seems but a trifle so let me explain exactly what an orphan is. An orphan is one who has been deprived of parents, who is without the resources of parents, and is in utter want of parents.
My life long dream has been to have parents. For as long as I can remember my heart felt a deep lack because I didn’t have parents that poured their love and approval into me. In my single digit childhood years I tried to show off how awesome I could be in the hopes that someone, anyone, would take notice and make me their kid. In my tween years I learnt to be crafty and did what I could to manipulate every situation to the end that I might receive the resources a parent would provide me with. By the time I had become a teenager, I began to manipulate myself to fit into any mold that a prospective parent might have. And yet every effort I made was utterly fruitless. I was stuck on a hamster wheel of works based acceptance.
When I decided to follow Jesus I tried fervently to convince myself that I was now a child of God. I belonged. Still I found myself standing in the rain, my eyes gazing thru the window of His heart jealously watching as He lavished His love upon His children. At times His eyes would meet mine and He would motion for me to come in and I, lost in the hope that it could be real, I stood motionless as insecurity paralyzed me. Then there were the times that I would begin to walk towards the door, I’d put my hand on the knob prepared to turn it and then I’d see one of His children jump into His lap and then I would remember. I was not the same as them; they were there first. My darkest days were spent standing at the window grievously weeping, my sorrowful sobs echoing in the night and reverberating against the cold window pane. How greatly I lamented that He did not come get me.
I had a siamese cat when I was 19. Coolest. Cat. Ever. One day he ran into a piece of furniture somehow and broke his foot. I heard him meow in pain. (He sounded like a cheetah!) I ran to assess the situation. As I went for him he swiped at me with his claw while hissing and hopped away into a corner where I could not reach him. I tried speaking softly and tenderly to him but nothing would convince him to come out. I really wanted to help him but he wouldn’t let me get close enough so that I could.
“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:” John 1:12
In receiving Jesus and believing that He is Who He says He is I was given the power to become His daughter. Keep in mind that that word power, means “right.” He gave me the right to be His daughter. The problem was that I was still thinking and acting like an orphan. My heart could not believe that I would be anything other than an orphan while I remained on earth. Once I realized the flaw in my thinking I began to try to change my thought process. I tried to behave like a daughter even though I didn’t know how to even begin behaving like a daughter. I never had a father that loved and cared for me, what ought I to expect or hope for in such a relationship?
The turning point came in a way that I was reluctant to engage in. The Lord gave me a type and shadow. Let me tell you dear reader, if there is one thing this orphan heart had learnt it’s that people are deeply flawed and even when having the best intentions they still hurt you. Sure you forgive them but you don’t forget the lesson, fire burns! Even with this realization I could not deny that this type and shadow was fashioned for me “for such a time as this.” I stepped lightly while I strategically held myself back just enough to still be in obedience. As time passed I began to see that holding myself back wasn’t an option. I had to learn to ask for what I wanted and even what I felt I needed. And so I did, with one eye shut in wincing fashion, I engaged. I unrealistically hoped that I would never again feel the sting of being denied the parental resources I felt I needed, while in my heart I knew that it simply must come. It was the fear of the pain; after all, that caused me to stand outside the window of my Father’s house and prevented me from running into His arms in the presence of His children.
Two very unexpected things happened upon my expected disappointment. For one, it didn’t hurt as much as I had feared. Somehow what I really needed was to practice walking as a daughter by not being afraid to ask. If you don’t believe something is genuine you won’t ask of it’s promised resources! Two, I found that the failures of past parents were my proof that this new parent could never be genuine. You see, the parent that God recently gave me had been living in the shadow of everyone else’s failures! This revealed God’s purpose in leading me to this point. If there were shadows cast upon this person there certainly must be shadows cast upon my Heavenly Father. In His largeness it was not easily evident to me, but when cast upon the normal size of a human being the shadows of those failures were readily made clear.
I retreated and wrote a series of lists. The first list was of everything I hoped to receive and experience from a parent. This list was sort of a shopping list, kind of like the “Nanny” list that Jane and Michael Banks wrote in the movie Mary Poppins. Next, I wrote a list of every expectation that I had of each person who attempted to take me in as their daughter. This list was personalized to fit the circumstances I found myself in when each person took that parental role in my life. I titled this list “things I hoped for.” The last list was titled “how it really was.” In this list I wrote how each person had failed, mostly miserably, at parenthood concerning me. Then I read over each list and to my surprise I found that my expectations were quite reasonable, I wasn’t expecting a pony for every birthday or an endless supply of chocolate! This helped me to see that it wasn’t my fault, I wasn’t wrong to believe each one was genuine and somehow this gave me leave to believe again. When I was done, I tore the papers to shreds and threw them into the sea. I wrote a poem. I drove home.
Upon returning to my life I felt very weak and raw, like I had just been through surgery. Indeed, I had been through surgery, I had had a heart transplant. Now I have overwhelming evidence of the undeniable unconquerable power of Jesus Christ beating right here in my chest.
I have the heart of a daughter.
I have come home.
I am an orphan no more.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26