An abandoned person can feel unwanted, not worth the trouble, unlovable, unsafe, frightened, anxious, distrustful and filled with pain they try to hide. They can develop an orphan heart. I believe there is an orphan spirit working hard in the world to convince us that we do not belong, especially that God will not be careful with our hearts. This may be why so many Christians (believers in Jesus, His cross and resurrection) struggle to some degree. It serves to keep us from our full identity as sons and daughters of God.
A Christian with an orphan heart says, ‘I do not know God as my Father or His mothering heart. He may prove untrustworthy and I would not be able to bear it. I am on my own. I will find a way myself to obtain what I need.’ An orphan heart may say, ‘I will embrace philosophies that build me up as a person. I will pursue a career that will give me identity, my spouse or family will be my identity and provide what I lack.’ Or an orphan will give up and deny their need for anyone. The orphan heart creates an anxious grasping way of going through life. It can create a sense of loneliness, abandonment, insecurity and alienation. Performance for acceptance, self-medicating, isolation or over compensating become a means of coping. It can push others away, look for identity in success and put un-do pressure on loved ones to provide what is lacking. It can express itself in anger, fits of rage or in speaking denigratingly about ourselves.
How do you recognize someone with an orphan heart? It is very hard because most of us have become adept at hiding the shame in inventive ways. We have even become good at hiding it from ourselves too. Some of the most successful loving people may be living with an orphan heart. All the time we have been expending so much energy compensating for what we perceive we lack, we have had a spiritual Father who loves us enough to come live among us, lay down His life take our sin upon Himself, write a Book that tells us who He is, who we become as sons and daughters and how we are heirs of His kingdom. But we cannot believe this good news or embrace it enough to heal our hearts.
Here is the heart of a tender strong father: You can trust a true father with your heart. His highest concern is for the well-being of his child. He spends all he has and all his energy in caring for the needs of his sons and daughters. He loves the sound of their voices and leans into them to listen. He responds with wisdom because he knows his child well. He enjoys their company and laughter. He wipes the tears from their eyes as he holds them close and provides a safe hopeful environment. He never leaves them or forsakes them. He defends them. Everything that matters to his child, matters to him. He prepares and guides them through life with wisdom, knowledge and firm loving discipline. The disciple John wove his love for Jesus, and Father God, throughout all the books in the Bible attributed to him. John calls us to know Him in the same way. He says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1.
The answer to an orphan heart is the Spirit of divine Adoption. The way to break off the orphan spirit and heal our hearts is to fill up with a sense of the Father’s love. We break the power of the lie of fatherlessness by receiving the fatherliness of God. Sonship and daughtership is so important to God’s plan for us that all creation cries out for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8). He is a father to the fatherless and to those living with an orphan heart. He will not leave us alone. He will come to us and make Himself known. He is trustworthy.
How do we do begin? A good place to start is by simply asking Him to show Himself as a father to us. Search the scriptures for revelation of God the Father, who Jesus came to show us. Renounce wholeheartedly the orphan spirit as a lie, take it to the cross in repentance for seeking a sense of significance, belonging and other ways first, apart from Him. Choose to believe and take Him at His word. Keep leaning into Him with unveiled hearts until our hearts open and we let our souls fill to overflowing with His love. Seek out other trustworthy people who have already found their way into the Father’s embrace.
His greatest gift to us is Jesus Christ because the Father’s heart cried out for us to know Him. Jesus said He came to show us the Father. He spent His whole life on earth in pursuit of this, until the very end when He gave all He had to give for us, so in believing we would have a perfect Father, His Father.
Beloved, He is worth knowing. Your heart can trust Him in every way. He is calling your name.