“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48
“Orphan” comes to me with connotations of lack—lack of guidance, lack of love, lack of place, lack of belonging. Though I never knew the absence of parental guidance in my life, I encountered a season as a spiritual orphan in my 20s, lacking community, discipleship, as “the unseen.”
I consider myself one of the unseen, feeling misunderstood most of my life among friends who had an opportunity to see my heart but chose something they deemed more worthy. I have lacked any “tribe” to call my own. Early in my journey, Jesus nudged me, “Do not run from me; it’s not me that’s hurt you.” This has been my foundation through the tumultuous years of young adulthood and well into parenthood when I began to understand more intimately what community looks like through my daughters.
I had begun to believe the lie that I was not worthy of friends, that I could not be understood, that I was destined to live my life alone, simply in communion with God. To be clear, I was not concerned with romantic relationships, but friendships in which I felt truly known.
I had two parents who loved me though our home was not without dysfunction. We were cared for, fed, and told we were loved in the imperfect way that a nuclear family provides. It wasn’t in this space where I experienced my orphan status.
In a way, I had orphaned myself out of necessity.
My walls and attempts at protecting my own heart had left me very much alone.
It was a time of pain in which I found myself broken from church disappointments and interpersonal rupture with those who called themselves—or were appointed as—spiritual leaders in my life. I began to wander and found myself straining to hear the voice of Jesus on my own. And though my walk with God was never intended to be a solo one, during this season I developed a dependency on myself for spiritual fulfillment and understanding. I was not entirely misguided; I was simply protecting my own soul from a repeat of the pain I had already experienced at least a dozen times in church and other Christian settings.
Jesus faithfully met me here again and again in the midst of my imperfections, through the clouded windshield of my soul trying to wipe away the fog of despair, confusion, and control. I was a clumsy pilot, but God waited patiently for me to find my way back to community 15 years later when he would begin to restore fully what was lost.
Ephesians 1:4-5 declares that I was chosen by God “…before the creation of the world…in love He predestined us for adoption.” This adoption comes again with the same implication—that I was in need because something was missing, and he replaced the thing that was lost by bringing me into his glory.
As an adopted daughter of my Heavenly Father, I came with the baggage of all the pain and anguish from people I had previously relied upon who had only disappointed and left me empty and hurting. Trusting again meant embracing, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” and “Give us this day our daily bread,” as well as, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.”
Receiving these gifts meant accepting my status as a child of God, and accepting my status as a child of God meant knowing that before Jesus entered my life, I was without a guide, without love, and without a place. The place I accept as my place of belonging is in Him. This also means I owe Him a great deal of my heart, as he has given me purpose. Because now, when I enter into community fully awake to the potential pitfalls and joys, it is not as an orphan searching for a home, but rather to offer myself as a home to others. It is in this space, I remind myself of the goodness that comes with knowing intimately my role as the beloved of Jesus, trusted friend, bride, and daughter.
Amy Altstatt is a faith-driven writer, passionate about women finding their own voice in Scripture and seeing how God reveals His plan and character through women as active participants in the gospel of redemption, freedom, and hope. She is currently writing a book that reexamines how God tells His story through even the most subliminal female characters in scripture. Amy’s websites are: Amyaltstatt.com and https://www.patreon.com/Adrinkofwater?fan_landing=true.
Amy, this was beautifully written. I loved the lines, “The place I accept as my place of belonging is in Him. This also means I owe Him a great deal of my heart, as he has given me purpose. Because now, when I enter into community fully awake to the potential pitfalls and joys, it is not as an orphan searching for a home, but rather to offer myself as a home to others.” Yes! You remind me that we are His instruments in His hands to reach others. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you for reading, Barbara. I am encouraged by your words as well.
You have such a way with words 💜
Oh my goodness truly profound words. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability.