I Will Not Leave You Orphaned
“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.” – John 14:18-19 (NRSV)
A childhood fight with my mother sent me swirling to the attic where I madly searched for documents that would prove I was adopted. I had no evidence of this, other than my incensed conviction that I could not possibly be related to this woman. When I found no actual papers, I forged some by stuffing an old legal envelope and marching dramatically into the room where my mother was, saying, “Here is proof that you’ve been lying to me all these years!”
In another childhood fantasy, I had an identical twin who had been adopted by another family at birth. In real life, I was an only child, often lonely, so in this fantasy I would one day locate a twin who would know me, love me unconditionally, and complete me because there would be no misunderstandings between us twins.
“Have you ever met any twins?” a friend later asked me, when I confessed this romantic dream. “My twin sister and I fight all the time!” And later my childhood friends who were adopted set me straight on what made someone your “real” parent. It was love, care, struggle, and time, not biology.
Yes, my mother and I were very different people and we often clashed. But after decades as an adult orphan, I can still hear my Mama’s burst of laughter that day when I dramatically presented those false documents, and how I just had to laugh too.
So whenever another Mother’s Day rolls around without her, I take comfort in Jesus’s words, “I will not leave you orphaned.” I imagine a day when we meet again, when all the real and important mysteries will be revealed.
Thank you, Jesus, for not leaving anyone of us orphaned, and for the mothering love we can all share with each other, here on earth, in this our human family.
Lillian Daniel is a preacher, teacher and writer in Iowa who aspires to be a shepherdess on the green.