As an adoptive mom of several older children, which means they weren’t infants or toddlers when we adopted them, I had no control over the first years of their lives. By the time they legally became ours, there were some deep seated attitudes, beliefs and hurts.
I could say to them that they were beautiful, valuable and cherished. I could say to them that they were safe and would not be rejected or abandoned. I could say to them that they could trust us. But, they didn’t recognize my voice. In the beginning, I was just another stranger and that meant danger.
Now, the voices that were familiar to them were the ones that reminded them to trust no one, to keep a safe distance, to manipulate and lie, to be afraid, to be cautious and on guard.
When you adopt an older child, there is often a lot that needs undoing before they are even able to hear what you are trying to say, certainly before they learn to recognize your voice. There can be frustrating times, times when you wonder if they will ever hear you, believe you, trust you.
To tell you the truth, it would just be too much for me to face alone. I wouldn’t attempt it without a strong support structure in place. And as a Christian, Jesus is the strong foundation that I rely first and foremost upon.
You see, He understands fully what it means to accept into your family those who have been battered and bruised. He knows all about what it means to reach out to those who don’t yet easily recognize your voice, trust you, obey you or appreciate you. He understands all about the other voices that haunt and taunt. He can love those who haven’t found their courage to love Him back in like manner. He is the Good Shepherd and He is an expert when it comes to shepherding broken hearts.
Chances are, you are standing in one of these two places today if not both. Perhaps, like me, you are an apprentice shepherd, reaching out to the broken people in your life, your community and your world. Perhaps you are one of the broken-hearted and you’re struggling with the voices that have been destructive and loud, preventing you from hearing the voice of Jesus, your Good Shepherd. Perhaps the loudest and most destructive voice is that of your own.
In either case, take courage. Listen as often and as intently to the voice of the Shepherd until His voice is raised above the din and then run to him, no longer afraid.