I got to stay with grandkids over the last two days. It seems our little Halle Grace is growing up too fast. She is our, soon to be fourth-grade granddaughter, a gift from God, an answer to prayer. Oh, and did I mention that she came to our family through adoption. Her first 5 years of life were lived in Ukraine, the last 2 of the 5-years in an orphanage.
Imagine for a moment what challenges Halle Grace has faced: new rules, new smells, new food, new customs, new friends, new things to laugh about, and a new family with two new brothers. She is a world away from the orphanage. Everything is new.
At times her transformation has been dramatic, but there is one word that rings true every day, grace. She is living a gift and unwrapping it with cautious curiosity. Yes, she struggles with her brothers and has her share of reprimands, but she belongs. Belonging has a language of its own. One word;…”hugs” spoken here. She belongs, the traditions, holidays, school friends, neighbor friends, summer adventures, water parks, museums, bikes, secrets, parties, TV, church, grandparents, cousins, freedoms, and limitations are all hers.
All this has caused me to think again about our adoption into the family of God. Even with a new heart and a new spirit, we face unexpected challenges trying to fit in. Some never learn the language of belonging. They never experience the hugs of grace. They live in the form of family, but miss the power of belonging. They can argue the doctrine, but they have never learned the language.
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[a] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NLT
God is the one who adopts us into his family of misfits; no matter what kind of family we have come from, we have a place in his. The God of heaven reaches down with love and hugs us into His heart. He delights in us, provides for us, and comforts us. And, His spirit introduces us to the in the language of hugs. Life after adoption is about learning the language. Do you believe it?
Truth is, we are all adopted. Only Jesus is first-born.
Halle thought she knew how to swim. She told Julie, her mom, about swimming in the sea in Mariupol before her adoption. But that sea is so shallow, Halle could walk 50 yards into the water and still touch the bottom. So, when she got to the pool for swimming lessons she jumped right it… the deep end. She learned an important truth immediately; she didn’t know how to swim.
After the lessons, Julie took Halle Grace and the boys to the water park. Halle loved it; the water wasn’t over her head. Then, while they were in line near the top of a water slide Halle Grace began screaming.
The lifeguard carried her down and Julie ran to catch up as they headed for the first aid clinic. A bee had stung Halle, and the lifeguard asked if Halle was allergic, or if she had been stung before. Julie had no idea.
She explained that they had recently adopted her from Ukraine. The lifeguard interrupted and said, “Does she speak Russian?”
Julie said, “Yes!”
That young lifeguard immediately began speaking to Halle Grace in Russian! She asked her if she had been stung before and Halle Grace said no. She went on explaining that they were going to put some medicine on it and that it would be ok.
After Halle was treated and feeling a little better, the lifeguard explained that she had been adopted from Russia 5 years ago with her 2 siblings.
Hugs all around.
Have you learned the language of belonging? It is like a secret code: the simple hug shows people they are accepted right where they are, regardless
Adopted believers spread grace all around themselves. They love and forgive and accept, because Jesus showed them how. That’s what older brothers do.
Remember, God knows we’ve got a lot to learn about His family, so, he gives us enough challenges to keep us close, but enough freedom to thrive. And, by faith, at the end of the day, hugs for everyone.