There is a recurring scene in the movie The Blind Side that haunts me. Michael Oher’s removal from his mom was almost identical to my own removal from my mother. I was only two or three at the time, but I remember sitting in the back of the police car watching my mother crying and pleading with the officers to not take my brother and I away. It was so upsetting to me that one of the police officers gave me a stuffed bear, which I still have even to this day. When I saw the flashbacks in The Blind Side, I was caught off guard. I can’t watch that movie without weeping.
I imagine most people who watched that movie and cried did so because it is a beautiful story. I cried for different reasons. I cried because in many ways, that movie speaks of my life. No, I’m not a football player. No, I’m not 300 lbs. And no, I wasn’t a homeless teenager. But like Michael Oher, I never knew my father, my mother (when I was younger) was addicted to drugs, and I was at the receiving end of adopting love.
When you’re young, you don’t really know what life is supposed to be like and how that version differs from the life you actually have. Meeting with social workers once a week during school to visit with my other siblings and my mother for visitations became routine and at the time, I didn’t know it wasn’t normal for kids to go through this. In some ways, I felt privileged, but that was only because I got to leave school an hour early every Wednesday. When high school hit, the visitations were long over and I started to truly realize how different my upbringing was in comparison to my friends.
Ever since this past January, I’ve come to see and feel the power of adopting love. It’s been a process, for sure, and there have been many nights spent in tears and anger. But little by little, I feel God’s fatherly love. For someone growing up without a dad, it’s kind of uncomfortable to suddenly have one. There are things that I have to learn about obedience, about discipline, and about trust – things that I’ve understood before, but mostly as concepts. I understood the definitions of obedience, discipline, and trust and I knew what was required of me with each, but I wasn’t very good at practicing them.
My grandfather has done more than I think he knows in helping me see what each of these words mean and how they play out in relationships, but even still, there is still so much more that I don’t know. When a child grows up without a genuine father to teach him or her how men are supposed to act, how women are supposed to act, and how to handle the emotions we suffer in life, the learning curve becomes more severe down the road. What I mean is; I feel leagues behind people my age with fathers merely because I don’t exactly know how to control the emotions I feel. One moment I might be totally fine, then the next I’m weeping, and then the next I’m clenching my fists in pent-up, uncontrollable rage. When I was younger, I broke a lot of things because I just couldn’t handle my emotions.
I find this to be the reason why Proverbs is my favorite book of the Bible; because it feels like a father teaching his son. Throughout the book, the author pleads with the “son” to “not forget [this] teaching… a father’s instruction.” I used to just glaze over these passages mostly because they didn’t really teach me anything, but partially because I didn’t really see myself as a son to a father. Only within the last few years have I started to truly feel like a son of God. The more I embrace this identity, the more I learn from Proverbs and Scripture as a whole, and the more I appreciate what has happened in my life.
As I’ve been writing recently, I’m going through some pretty tough trust issues. Merely opening myself up to my church family has been difficult. In some ways because I don’t know what they’ll think of me if I tell them certain things and in other ways, I’m not used to people being so close. Wednesday’s lunch with Tony was very uncomfortable because he was prying open a flaw in my heart that had never been addressed before. No one has asked me why I tend to emotionally-distance myself when it comes to really touchy subjects. People usually just let me be. So when someone doesn’t let me be, it’s frustrating because it’s unfamiliar and terribly uncomfortable.
Included within the trust issues are my intimacy issues. For me, it’s more than merely stuttering when asking them out or saying something bizarre when telling them how you feel. It’s those mixed with doubt; doubt that the girl I talk to will ever have the same feelings about me; doubt that things will be normal after I tell her; or doubt that her perspective of me would be anything positive. And sweaty palms never really helped anybody.
Two years ago I believed that it wasn’t time for me to date anyone because God was still working on stuff within me. But I had never imagined it would be my emotional issues that God wanted to work through. It’s been a rough ride and I’ve felt quite a bit of heartache. In some ways, it feels like a second wave of teenage hormones just running rampant through my mind and heart. So much of me thought I was done with all this stuff and that I was ready for the next step in life; marriage. But the more I look at my heart, the more I realize that I am so far from being ready for any kind of intimate relationship.
Genesis 2 describes why a man will leave his parents; in order to be joined with his wife. About 99% of the time, I focus on the second half of that verse. But I’ve realized this past week that I think I first need to learn how to be a son of God before I can be a woman’s husband. To me, this gives a whole new meaning to Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:4; “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” For me it says I have to become God’s child before I can be a man of God.
As I said at the beginning; I cannot watch The Blind Side without weeping. Because when I see how similar my background is with Michael Oher’s and then how he was adopted by a loving family, I see exactly how I’ve been adopted by God. Being adopted is so much more than feeling “accepted” or “part of the team”; all of a sudden you have value in the world, meaning, purpose and as is the case with God’s adopting love, you have life. And life abundant. That is the power of God’s adopting love.