Are you an adult orphan?
I’d never heard of the term until I became one – and felt like one.
I read it in a book somewhere. I then realized others had felt the same way as me.
I identified with the term though my mother was still living. Why? Because with my father’s death, I became Mom’s caregiver. Slowly, she became the parent and I became the child.
To be orphaned, I think, means to be alone. And helpless against danger. I felt alone.
In those chaotic, stressful times, I longed to be parented. To feel safe.
My burning request for rescue was voiced in a sudden stroke of desperation. I raised voice to the ceiling and cried to God.
“Send me a protector!”
Are we destined to retain this label of adult orphan? To remain feeling alone, unprotected?
In a word, no.
How can I answer so confidentially? I certainly wouldn’t have been so quick with an answer 12 years ago when I was in the thick of the “valley of the shadow of death.”
And yet I had hope. I believed in something I could not yet see. And I believed in a God that makes promises.
Here are some of his promises I read over and over again. They can give you an expectant hope. The kind of hope that will put you into his hands, hands that will take you across that valley.
“The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow.” Psalm 146:9a
I read that Bible verse repeatedly in the months that followed Dad’s death. God watches over us all, but he singles out the fatherless and widow for special attention. I felt alone, but I was not alone. I felt powerless, unprotected, but I was being watched over by the Creator himself.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5
I read this verse, too. Not only was God watching over me and my mother, he was naming himself Defender. God would not abandon me to scary forces that wanted to bring us down.
“But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 10:14
I realized with this verse that God is not a passive watchman. He acts in behalf of the needy. We may need to wait for answers, but he will not leave us to flounder alone in our wounded state.
Incredibly, I met a wonderful man two years after Dad’s death. We married in 2009, and I felt “transferred.” That’s the only word I have to explain the odd feeling that came over me.
Mom died several weeks later in her sleep. She was not awake to struggle. Her spent heart simply stopped. I hated, hated, hated that I couldn’t say a last goodbye. And then I realized that night was about her. Not about me. A sleeping death was merciful.
I still missed being parented, and yet I had a husband who watched over me.
As the years passed, I realized that though God gives us a few protectors in life, they cannot perfectly guard our hearts and lives. They cannot go everywhere we go. God is the ultimate protector.
Are you in the beginning of your story? Maybe you are in the middle of it and you cannot possibly see how any good can come from what you’ve been through. You’ve wrapped your mind around the details over and over again, and you don’t see how any sense, or any new perspective, can come from what you or your loved one have been through.
I cannot make promises to you, but God makes promises. I can tell you my story, but only you can find out for yourself what he does for the sick, suffering, pained and grieved.
“For he hath said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5
“… and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:20
Did you feel orphaned with the loss of a parent? What restored your sense of security? Is there a verse of scripture that helps you feel safe?
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