Here’s a wake up call for you. One that demands self-awareness. If you acknowledge behaviors, inclinations or patterns in this upcoming list, keep on reading.
(For the sake of your heart and everyone around you).
Is your attitude of?
1. The Lead Critic: You constantly find fault in your leaders (Pastor, Boss, Governor, etc)
2. The Measuring Stick: You compare your accomplishments and/or failures with those of others.
3. The Opportunist: You can’t find time to serve unless there is recognition for it. (“False humility” is your specialty)
4. The Pretender: You hide your sin and mistakes, and continue to wear a mask. (“I’m fine!”)
5. The Mopey Face: You feel uncomfortable and out-of-place while surrounded by family and friends. (Pity Party for 1)
6. The Pusher: You demand things even when it does not bring peace or joy to those around you. (“They’ll get over it”)
7. The Addict: You seek comfort in counterfeit affections (Drugs, Food, Social Media, Porn, etc.)
8. The Lone Ranger: You move forward independently of God’s leading or others’ counsel. (“I don’t care”)
9. The Jerk: Your envy grows because of others’ success. (And you compete. Hard)
10. The Wizard: You manipulate people to change their decisions with the use of your wisdom and/or spirituality.
11. The Blind Judge: You just read through this list putting people’s names and faces to the titles. (I did the same thing while writing it)
Define yourself as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.
Don’t feel bad my friend. Welcome to the club! We are all little orphans who need a loving Father to sort them out.
But let me first explain this Christian-ese term, “orphan spirit”. We use it to refer to a person who thinks, talks, acts and feels as if he has no Father to love him, no Savior to make him righteous, and no Holy Spirit to help him.
In his superb book, Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship, Jack Frost said, “The orphan spirit causes one to live life as if he does not have a safe and secure place in the Father’s heart. He feels he has no place of affirmation, protection, comfort, belonging, or affection. Self-oriented, lonely, and inwardly isolated, he has no one from whom to draw Godly inheritance. Therefore, he has to strive, achieve, compete, and earn everything he gets in life. This easily leads to a life of anxiety, fears, and frustration.”
This acknowledgement was a constant source of frustration for me. I found myself going from teaching to teaching finding out how much of an “orphan” I was. I could not contain the striving and the competition. I was consumed with getting my own way and trying to succeed by my own efforts. And when the orphan mentality settled in my heart, it was easy for me to build walls, shift blame and justify gossip.
I was hungry for love. Desperate for attention. Feeling unhappy with myself and needy for true encouragement.
(Aren’t we all?)
Then, in 2003, I met a man ruined by love and his story changed my perspective. He was an all American boy who was struggling with his health but decided to leave his world behind and respond to God’s invitation to Cold Mother Russia.
What compelled Ethan to drop everything and move there was hearing the results of a study comparing the emotional and physical well-being of institutionalized children with those adopted or in foster homes. The study suggested, “Children who passed the first two years in an orphanage had a lower IQ and attenuated brain activity compared with foster children or those never institutionalized.” In the last century, one-third of babies in orphanages died before they reached seven months of age. To fight these odds, unwanted babies were brought to institutions where antiseptic procedures and adequate food promised a fighting chance for a healthy life. However, the orphans died, not from infectious diseases or malnutrition, but simply wasted away in a condition called marasmus.
Sterile surroundings did not prevent it. Having enough food made no difference. These babies died by the thousands from the deprivation of human touch. Skin to skin contact was all that was required for optimum health.
You see, when an infant falls below the threshold of the physical affection needed to stimulate the production of growth hormones and the development of the immune system, his body starts to shut down. So when babies were removed from these institutions to environments where they could receive physical nurturing, the marasmus reversed. Children who were being continually touched gained weight. Little ones being hugged finally began to increase in size and strength. Being held was all the orphans needed.
And so it is with you. And your heart. And your spiritual health.
By the time we met Ethan, it had been a year since he moved to Russia. He could not possibly bring the thousands of orphans back to his home but he was convinced that one compassionate embrace every day could help them not just survive, but thrive. Since the primary need of an orphan is affectionate human touch, for months, he would get up every day from his cold one-bedroom apartment in St. Petersburg, to visit the children. Ethan would sit on a chair, and for long hours wait for the kiddos to form a line. Then, one by one, the orphans drew near to receive a hug. He could barely speak their language, but he could extend his arms with a smile, sit them on his knees… and hold. #myhero
Matthew 19:14 narrates an occasion when parents had the genius idea to bring their kids close to Jesus for Him to lay His hands on them. He rebuked His own disciples when they tried to keep the little ones away. “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.” And according to Scripture, He stayed till all the children had been blessed.
Then, Jesus used the occasion to encourage His followers to act like these cuties, “For to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Only the ones who are similar in attitude, in confidence and in desire for proximity will feel the heartbeats of Love Himself.
Trust me amigo. The critic, the pretender, the victim and the jerk in you are all just desperately looking to be met by a loving, joy-filled father. And according to Jesus in the story of the Prodigal Son, this is exactly what God the Father does:
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. He felt compassion, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
You are due for an encounter with Him. There, your crappy attitudes will be transformed. He will speak to you about your true value and significance. He will squeeze the rejection out of your insides. He will throw you a party. You will be an orphan no more.