This morning, I am reading an education packet about adoption and adoptive parent preparation. It's for the most part. It is fairly straight forward parenting issues, but particularly relates to parenting an adopted child. In the section on attachment I found this sentence. The author was talking about the "bad" behavior of the child as a result of being fearful of rejection by his new parents.
"Ironically, his negative behavior may be designed, on an unconscious level, to provoke the very rejection he fears. He is rejecting you before you can give up on him."
This is an interesting thought to say the least. It is almost reverse psychology from an internal point of view. The child probably can't express in words the he is doing this. He can't tell you, "Daddy, I can't appreciate your love for me now because I don't trust that you will always be my daddy. Because of that, I'm going to hit my new sister." The child simply can't (and wouldn't) communicate the cause of his behavior in this way. And yet, I think the sentence above is correct, that the child's rejection of his new parents is pre-emptive of his imagined rejection by his new parents. The adopted child has potentially been tossed around from orphanage to orphanage. The child found primary care givers at each of these locations, but shortly after identifying that person he could trust, he was shipped off to another orphanage, another situation, another care-giver. He fears rejection more than anything, and in order to have the upper hand and be in control of his situation, the child is likely to reject the trust of the parents before they can reject him.
Of course every illustrative situation only goes so far, so take this next thought with a grain of salt. However, this "internal" reverse psychology from the adopted child is a picture of our "internal" reverse Christianity. Here's where I'm going with this. Why do we not seek God's hand for help more often? (i.e. reject his love) Why do we not look to Christ to fulfill all our longings and desires? (i.e. reject his sufficiency) Why do we not trust that the Spirit of God will help us in times of need and encourage us in our Christian life? (i.e. reject God's gifts). We, SPIRITUALLY ADOPTED CHILDREN, are just like all other adopted children. We are likely, indeed, we are inclined to reject God's merciful hand, because we don't really trust that he will NOT reject us. We want to be in control of our own situation and we want to decide who even gets the chance to reject us. Hence, we push God to the side while we fulfill all our earthly desires. We "reject" God so that he doesn't have the chance to reject us first.
As I said before, the illustrative picture breaks down, but not completely. As ADOPTED CHILDREN, we don't "reject" God as in rejecting the gospel. We don't "reject" God as in rejecting his grace and salvation through the blood of Jesus. What we "reject" is God's continued fulfillment of our needs when we cry out "Abba, Father." We don't really believe that God can/will work on our behalf for his glory. Don't get me wrong, we are in the family; we've been ADOPTED and God is faithful to his covenant in Christ. But we act out in disobedience, unconsciously, thinking that we can somehow control our life to the point that we don't need to be dependent on Christ. We fear rejection. And yet, we reject the very one who is able and willing to help us face all our fears. Paul's argument in Romans 8 (a chapter rich with adoption language) presents the dichotomy of walking by the Spirit or walking by the flesh. This is the difference between obedience or disobedience. When we walk by the flesh, we walk in disobedience, relying on ourselves. When we walk by the Spirit, we walk as those who cry out "Abba, Father," dependent on God's sufficient grace. In other words, when we walk by the Spirit, we walk as children who are comfortable trusting God with our lives. We walk as children who are comfortable to be called by a new name; the name our heavenly Father gives us as members of his kingdom.
This sentence from our adoption education materials is written from a child psychology/child development point of view. And yet is says something significant about our spiritual condition as adopted sons and daughters of the one who defends the cause of the fatherless. I don't want to proceed in our adoption thinking that I planned our fund raisers, I planned our interviews, I controlled our paperwork gathering, I controlled my life while God stood on the sidelines cheering ME on. I want to cry out "Abba Father" so often that it becomes a joyful cry. Will you pray with Liz and me that our hearts would reflect this attitude of dependence on God so that by the gospel we will be "attached"?
Adam and Liz<><