Last night the GIRL friends group that I’ve written about before began their winter session. And again, I went mostly for fellowship, not really expecting to get much out of the study, since I had already done a study on Ephesians. Boy was I wrong.
Our meeting leader, Kathy, explained how the book of Ephesians was laid out and we started by reading Ephesians 1:3-14, where Paul is listing the spiritual blessings that are ours simply by accepting God. Then Kathy went back to verse 4.
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
She asked us what it meant to be chosen, and for a while the room was silent.
To me it is such an abstract idea. It has nothing to do with you, you have no control over it. You don’t get to decide if you are chosen or not, it is just something that happens or doesn’t. Some women said that, to them, being chosen was a feeling. I know that God loves me and has chosen to love me, but sometimes I don’t feel the love. How can you feel loved when something horrible happens? How do you reconcile the abuse? Losing a child? I know I still hold a lot of anger and confusion about things that have happened, and I know that those are issues I have to work through, but I hadn’t realized how greatly those issues had impacted my relationship with God until I sat there listening to these women extol their feelings of being chosen, and all I could think of was the struggle inside of me.
The conversation eventually dwindled and we moved on. Ephesians 1:5 says this:
5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Kathy asked if anyone had any experience with adoption and my hand shot into the air. Having 5 adopted sisters, I tend to be the go-to adoption expert in most rooms. Kathy asked me to describe the relationship between my parents and my adopted sisters and to compare that to the verse and the idea that God has adopted us.
Why did I raise my hand?
I knew what she was asking, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what to say, so I just started talking in the hopes that my words would lead me down the right path.
My sisters know that they are adopted. It’s kind of obvious because they are Asian and my parents aren’t, but it’s always been talked about in my family. They know they were born in China or Taiwan. They know they were adopted. And it’s funny, because my parents get the same reaction from so many people. People are always coming up to my parents and saying things like “Oh, God bless you for adopting them. They are so lucky!” But my parents always respond the same way “We are the lucky ones”
It was around here that the light started to come on. I was starting to see what this verse really meant. But it wasn’t until I finished speaking that I truly ‘got it’.
And my sisters know. My parents tell the girls how three sets of parents have been blessed by them, have gotten to love them. They’ve brought joy to their birth parents, their foster parents, and their forever parents. And it’s funny because we always think of how blessed we are to be loved by God, how lucky we are, but if we are adopted by him, then it’s amazing to think that God looks at us and thinks that He is the lucky one, for getting to love us.
And when you adopt a child, you love them before you know them. When you have a biological child you know them a little before they are born. You know their background, you know their movements inside of you. But in adoption you don’t know anything until you are handed that file. But you love that child long before then. It’s just like the Bible says in some versions ‘even before the world was made, he decided to adopt us’. He loves us that much. I don’t think I truly understood that until just now.
Isn’t it amazing? God, the creator of everything, Master of the universe, loves us so much that He thinks He is the lucky one, simply because he gets to love us.
And no, it doesn’t make the bad things okay. Just like we get mad at our parents for reasons they don’t deserve, it’s okay if I sometimes get mad at God for things He doesn’t deserve. But when I think about how much I love my sisters–how much I will love a baby if we adopt–it helps me remember that God is not The Bad Guy, He is the Comforting Arms when the bad things happens.