I’ll start out this one with some humorous honesty, because this one is heavy. (You’ve been warned.)
I’m not the kind of person to get in my car and turn worship music on. I don’t have many “Christian” songs saved on my Spotify account, and the ones I do have, I typically skip over. This kind of music isn’t my default. I’d much rather put on some Taylor Swift and dance around my room like I’m in junior high again, or drive with the windows down blasting Jonas Brothers’ new single, “Sucker” (a true bop if you haven’t been graced with hearing it yet), or, I must confess, rapping along to “7 Rings” by Ariana Grande. (Sorry, not sorry.) A friend of mine jokes that my music is “inappropriate” every time she gets in my car. (She’s only sort of wrong.)
But, this song was sung yesterday at church. I’d never consciously heard it before, and there’s no reason why I would’ve ever heard it accidentally (re: my confession above), but I could sing along. Somehow, I knew this thing like the back of my own hand, and I think it’s because it sums up so well how I feel about Jesus loving me.
We crave being loved. We crave being known, being wanted, being important to someone. I’ve spent a large part of my life feeling like the opposite of all of those things, which is silly when you look at my parents’ devotion to me and my brothers and sister, or my brothers’ and sister’s devotion to me. It’s almost comical for me to think of myself being unloved and unwanted as someone who was actively chosen to be part of my family. And yet, it’s a very real part of my story.
On the paperwork my parents received from their social worker during the process of my adoption, there’s a section that describes some of the parts of when I was born. About halfway down the page, there’s a little black box with some typewriter text next to it, checked off and marked, “Abandoned at hospital.” The first time I saw that, it was like in the movies when the camera zooms in on something and time freezes, and the character in the scene is paralyzed with emotion. Abandoned. Unwanted. Unimportant. Thrown to the wolves. Tossed aside like charred wheat.
My parents used to tell me when I was younger that my birth mom loved me so much that she gave me to them because she knew they could take care of me and love me where she couldn’t. It’s a nice story, and it built up this lovely narrative in my mind where everyone is happy and content and things are shiny and beautiful and nothing hurts. I don’t know if it’s the kind of response that adoptive parents are just encouraged to give when their children ask about their biological parents or something. I can’t tell you today if that story is the truth or not. I’ve never met my birth mother or birth father, and I have no interest in doing so, maybe because that would either confirm or shatter this pretty little narrative permanently.
I fixate on things. I obsess over things. I become consumed with inconsequential details. And this is one that I have never been able to set free from my mind. This fact, that my birth mother walked into that hospital, went through the pain and strain of labor, possibly all on her own, and then walked out of that hospital without taking me with her, is one that I have never been able to release. My birth father was probably not around. Maybe he doesn’t even know I exist. Somehow, my birth mom, while she chose not to terminate the pregnancy, still decided that I wasn’t supposed to be part of her story, for whatever reason. Whether it was money, or cultural shame, or lack of support, or fear. But of course, in my mind, I’ve come to decide that I’m the reason why. Something about me made her decide not to keep me. Me, a newborn infant, incapable of much more than crying and sleeping. Somehow, I’m at fault.
This is why this song hits so close to home. When you think of yourself as an accident, maybe the result of too many drinks one night or carelessness or recklessness, or, God forbid, an act of violence, when the little voice inside your head reminds you repeatedly of how disposable you are, when you subsequently think of yourself as someone who is incapable and undeserving of being loved, you spend a lot of your time and energy trying to earn love and attention from people. You try to please everyone around you and make everyone like you, often by sacrificing yourself in the process.
But then there’s Jesus, who loves us like nothing else compares. Who doesn’t shy away from the messy, broken parts of us. I’ve talked about this before, but gosh does this song stir this truth up. He doesn’t only want us when we’re strong and devoted and doing all the right things. He doesn’t give us more love or attention when we listen to him. He doesn’t pick and choose favorites because of how obedient we are. I can’t fathom why Jesus would want me, of all people. But, somehow, he loves me as he finds me.