Recently, Eden’s foster father, took her to the state orphanage for a quarterly medical check up. While waiting in the midst of screaming children and hurried adults, a woman looked at Eden and asked, “Is she an orphan?” As the words left the woman’s mouth, the foster father felt Eden’s hand tense up and begin to squeeze his tighter. She nervously looked up at him waiting for a response. He smiled and confidently told the woman, “no, she’s not an orphan…she’s got a daddy and mommy and a sister and two brothers that love her very much.” Upon hearing this truth, a big smile flooded Eden’s face, instantly washing away the pensive cracks that were formerly there. Her joy was obvious as she swung her hand in his back and forth with glee.
As Eden’s father, the story was touching and telling for me. Touching for obvious reasons. Telling because it revealed the uncertainty of Eden’s upbringing. Nothing has been certain in her first nine years of life. Very little is for most orphans. Yes, she had the tentative certainty of food, clothing and shelter. Most orphans don’t even have that. But she, like all orphans, lacked the certainty of love. Can you imagine not having anyone permanent in your life? No one to be a constant source of stability, comfort and encouragement? No one who knows you, remembers you, protects you or loves you unconditionally? Eden never had any of that. The power of love and the permanence of family was never hers to be had, that is, until now. Very soon, she will be a part of our family. While she has been reminded of this many times, I know it can never be said often enough. After all, why would a young girl who never had a forever family suddenly believe it simply because people told her so? I know our arrival will help assure Eden of her new life’s constancy. But, I also know that she will still need to be continually reminded that she is not an orphan.
Orphan identities are not easy to lose. They tend to linger if gone unchecked especially when doubt and difficulty inevitably come. I trust that time and faithfulness will help but ultimately Eden will need to be reminded of the perpetuity of perfect love. Not her family’s love for her although that is important. She needs to be reminded of THE Father’s great love for her. He knew her before her most inward parts were formed. She was made fearfully and wonderfully by him. He has a plan for her life not for calamity but for blessing. Only the eternal immutability of the Father’s love through Christ can free Eden of an orphan heart. That’s the only thing that could free the prodigal son of his. That’s the only thing that can free me of mine. I pray that my family would be a faithful, albeit imperfect, incarnation of his love that Eden might truly believe that she’s no longer an orphan and will never be ever again.