John recently told me a sad and amazing story about a longtime friend of his. He’s always been a bitter victim of life yet he somehow has made a name for himself in the big world.
Randy (not his name) has long known he’s been adopted. Knowing that his mother gave him up for adoption has made him this angry and bitter victim. (He’s also had his high school sweetheart and then his wife die of cancer. This is a sad true story, folks.)
It hasn’t helped to have his own adoptive father tell him they paid $9,999.00 too much for him. Guess how much the adoption cost was? (This is a sad true story, folks.)
When Randy got older he put a lot of effort into finding his birth mom. He posted notices all over. For years. He never got even a lead. Eventually one of those people who are good and paid for finding birth parents offered to help him find his mom for free. Her results were that he was a black market baby. He was stolen and then sold. He already knew that the exchange for his adoptive parents to receive him happened with an exchange of money in a hospital parking lot.
In his early 50s Randy was broken with this truth. Somewhere out there, there is a mother who is even more broken-hearted that she lost her baby than Randy is broken-hearted that he was given up.
This has healed Randy a little bit.
He’s also a professed atheist. John wisely said to him, “For 50 years you believed as truth that you were unwanted and given away. Then you found out that was a false story. Perhaps you can also find out after 50 years if Jesus is a true story.” Prayers please.
I heard this story from John the day before Ash Wednesday. As I was giving the imposition of ashes we would read Psalm 51 together. This is a common Psalm in my personal faith life as well as in the church life. Yet this one verse just popped out at me every time I read it on Ash Wednesday.
v.6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
For this lost and stolen baby, was God teaching Randy wisdom while he was still in the womb? What was God telling Randy in that intimate secret place?
You know…those words you also so desire to be spoken about your life.
What words did God speak to you before you were born in that secret place?
Worthiness is your birthright.
We are a “This is Us” household. Football, baseball, and “This is Us” are our choices to stop and watch live TV. Maybe John and I see a bit of us in those stories in “This is Us?”
In an episode from season one, Randall faces an identity crisis. He’s an African American man adopted as a baby into this white family. He is very much a part of this family (sometimes the mom’s favorite a bit too much) but his life as a black man makes him different. Then there is the truth that he knows he is the replacement for a triplet who died at birth. Added to this he finds his birth father and learns that his adoptive mother knew all along this man’s name and whereabouts.
Seething with anger at this betrayal, Randall trips out on some accidentally ingested mushrooms. This is such an anti-Randall type of scene that I think the writers took the easy road to tell this part of Randall’s story. Which also makes this scene stupid. Yet there still is a powerful truth here.
During his hallucination, Randall is venting all of his rage at his now-dead father—who of course is alive in the hallucination. After letting him vent his rage, his father takes him by the face and says,
“You are not a choice, Randall. You’re a fact.”
In one moment, the father says the words every child longs to hear,
“You are my beloved child and with you I am well pleased.”
I believe this is what God speaks to us in the womb. This is our starting point. Worthiness is our birthright.
Then we breath our first breath. And live our story.
There is a lot of good in your story. And there is pain. People will tromp on our birthright. Life is full of broken-heartedness. Words will be spoken over you that you can’t get out of your head. (Please lead your brain so you stop giving authority to those words).
But remember…God spoke to you first. And it is the truth.
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