The Orphan Spirit

Two fo my children have been adopted.  I can’t help but notice how tired they always are, (and not just physically).  If I knew any better I would say that their souls often seem exhausted.  It’s an exhaustion that too many of us live with on a daily basis.

For those that have opened up their homes or have given their time to orphans or foster children, you undoubtedly run into what author Richard Frost calls the “Orphaned Spirit”: The inability to find full acceptance and unconditional love from a parent.

The symptoms of an orphan spirit are severe and include the following,

A lack of confidence

A crippling need for approval

The inability to empathize and even accept others

The inability to receive or extend unconditional love

And a life that gets sucked into survival mode where they do whatever they have to do to stay out of a position where they might be abandoned once again.  If they have to lie, they lie.  If they have to cheat, they cheat.  If they have to hurt others, they hurt others.  Those with the orphan spirit have been thrust into survival mode, and if you have ever been there it seems impossible to make your way out.

It is insecure and taxing to watch as a bystander, let alone be the one who lives within its confines.  The orphan spirit is the tireless lifestyle of one who has not yet encountered the steadfast love of a Father.

Unfortunately the orphan spirit doesn’t just plague the literal orphan or foster child.  The orphan spirit haunts the majority of people who have not yet experienced the God of the scriptures, still unable to taste His sacrificial love that many soon find out has no strings attached. 

Ephesians 1 says, “Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”

Each of us (raised by biological parents or not) must get to a place where we want adoption.  Where we need one who will define us not by what we can or can’t do, nor by who we are (or who we are not), but instead defines us by what He has done and who He is.  This is the beauty of the gospel; God comes to us in flesh, the revelation of Jesus, and says “come to me all of you who carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest”.  You don’t have to measure up, pay your way, or climb the ladder to find the one who loves you unconditionally.

This is the family standing that we may inherit, a Dad we may rest in.  It is where we (whether literal or spiritual orphan) finally get a taste of what it means to thrive.  After all Jesus said “I’ve come to give you life, and give it to you to its fullest”.  That’s what we were created for, at least that’s the gospel story….and I’m growing to love it.

It may be time to be honest about how tired we actually are, acknowledge that it goes far beyond a physical exhaustion, and be willing to receive a new birth certificate signed by the Father whose been waiting for you for a very long long time.