My Orphan Thinking

Published May 17, 2011 by joypatton

Last weekend my orphan thinking got the best of me. My friends saw a side of me they have never seen before. The person they knew as gregarious and vivacious who took charge and worked the room dissolved into a trepidatious wall flower.

I went to a national Women’s conference with Heidi and Karthi, two of my closest friends. Karthi’s husband was in the worship band so he hooked us up with All Access Passes. We went back stage, ate the catered food and mingled with the speakers and artists. My friends were both eager to talk to whoever they could find. They boldly started conversations while I shrank away in the background.

To me it felt like we were sneaking into a place we didn’t belong. In my mind, we had no right or reason to be there in spite of the All Access lanyards around our necks. What bothered me was that I hadn’t done anything to earn the right to be in the room. I was just tagging along on the coattails of my friend. I had convinced myself that these people had no idea who we were, so why in the world would they waste their time on us? after one of the sessions, I actually stood in line for 30 minutes to meet one of the speakers instead of trying to catch her back stage. When I talked to her, it felt like I had earned my two minutes with her.

I felt guilty slipping back stage between sessions to grab a bottled water. (However after I paid $3.50 for one bottle at the concession stand, I felt less guilty.) When they had a meet and greet, Karthi wanted us to join in. I just couldn’t do it. How could I be in that room and take time away from people who deserved it? After all, they won a contest that gave them access.

My brave friend started conversations with everyone she could find from a woman with one leg to the president of the conference to the security guard. Meanwhile I, the shy one, stood against the wall waiting and hoping she would invite me into the conversation because them I would have a right to be there.

I had turned into a backward, anxious person that my friends did not recognize. They are used to me being the outgoing one because they are used to seeing me in situations where I am the leader, the teacher or the speaker. I earned the right to be in those roles and was free to welcome people and initiate conversations. But back stage at a Women’s conference I was just a nobody who was desperately hoping to be a somebody someday. 

I realized that this is often how I approach my relationship with God. When I haven’t been reading my Bible, I have no right to ask Him to help me. If I haven’t been doing my part in serving others, I have no reason to ask Him to give me strength or energy. When I’ve really messed up and been abusive with my kids or selfish with my husband, I stay away from Him until I can do better. If I haven’t gone to church in weeks, I begin to think He has forgotten about me because I have forgotten about Him. In my mind, I haven’t earned the right to be in His throne room and should just stay against the wall and hope that He somehow invites me in.

But the truth of my status is that I have an All Access pass hanging around my neck. I have the cross of Christ covering me. I have access to the Father, not because I earned it or deserved it, but because Jesus earned it through His great sacrifice. He lived a perfect life, so that I don’t have to (not that I could even if I tried).

But the amazing thing is that I not only have access to throne room, I can walk right up to the throne and talk to the Father and be in relationship with Him. Not because I have earn it, but because He loves me and wants to know me and wants me to know Him. When he sent Jesus to earth, He made a way for me to be made right with Him, even when I mess it up, even when I don’t do my part, even when I have forgotten Him.

So why do I stand against the wall outside looking at my feet waiting for someone to notice me? It’s my Orphan thinking that convinces me I am not worthy to be in the room, that I’m tagging along on someone else’s coattails. Well it is true…I’m tagging along on the coattails of one and only Son of God.  But I’m not just some urchin he accidentally drug in off the street.  He chose me to be His Princess, a Daughter of the King.  “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:6)  Hopefully I will be more like my Princess friends, Heidi and Karthi, when I’m in the throne room with my All Access Pass.  I will choose to believe and rest in the work of the wonderful cross.

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One comment on “My Orphan Thinking

  • I understand this kind of orphan thinking Joy. This past weekend I took my daughter and six of her friends to spend a weekend at a lake house, which some friends of mine offered to let us use. It was a great plan that I thought would make Caetlyn very happy, but it was flawed right from the inception. The reason; because I was thinking up ways that I could repay Suzanne and Hal for letting us use their beautiful place, since they required nothing from us in return.
    It didn’t feel right for someone to own a beautiful lake house and just hand me the keys and say, “have fun”. I felt unworthy and was determined to earn my right to enjoy this gift. As a result my weekend was tainted with self-righteous acts and fear based attempts to control the environment. Not only did I feel unworthy to receive this gift, I dutifully acted like a slave, trying to attend to the needs of my daughter and her friends. After which I would fade away into the background, rather than incarnating among them. I traded relationship with them for control.
    My orphan actions spilled out in unexpected ways that had messy consequences for the whole group. Determined to keep everything neat and undisturbed, I was literally walking from room to room following the girls around and picking up after them. I was trying so hard to make everyone happy and keep the place from getting trashed that I was at times sucking the joy right out of the celebration.
    It seemed like nothing I could do was enough. Not enough for my daughter and not enough for me to feel worthy. Three different times she snapped at me and made unreasonable demands; to which I responded with a full tank of self righteous anger! By the third outburst, I ripped off my orphan clothes and wrapped myself in my treasured martyr robe. I was ready to tell her all the reasons why she should be worshipping me for what I had done for her. By the grace of God, I stuck to my feelings and told her that I was hurt and angry. At that time I didn’t even recognize my self-righteous sin and gave her know indication that I was at fault in any way.
    It wasn’t until processing this frustrating situation with my husband and linking my actions to orphan thinking, that I could see my sin and admit the way I had wronged my precious daughter.
    Thankfully, in the midst of this internal storm of mine, Caetlyn and her friends had some wonderful moments of connection and made some lasting memories together, while I came away with a twofold lesson: First that my worthiness comes from Jesus and that I am covered with His righteousness. There’s nothing I can do to earn it. I’m a child of the King of Kings and worthy of any gift He wants to bestow on me (even the generosity of good friends). The second is never to trade relationship, love and desire for self-righteousness, control and duty.

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