An Uncaged Adventure reflections post by Rachael Hulse
“Nothing compares to Your embrace” This was the lyric this past Sunday that initiated a small break in my heart, filled my eyes with tears. Why? I’ve noticed over the past two years that as I have surrendered more to Christ, more occasions bring me to tears. I think it’s because I am no longer numb, no longer dead, I am alive. Therefore, because I am alive, I am aware. Aware of the joy, the sorrow, the filling up, the draining of, the hope, the hopelessness, the yearning, and the redemption of this world and those that are part of it.
I was surprised by the brimming of tears, and so I asked God for a reason, “why was this particular lyric hitting me so hard?” He brought the image, the not so distant memory of all the orphaned children I had the honor of embracing and being embraced by while in Panama. At the first orphanage Bluebird visited, MetroAmigo, I think we all had a little hesitation about having physical contact with any children. Not because we didn’t want to, but because we are all accustomed to the U.S. mindset of “any physical contact with a child that is not related to you may be seen as inappropriate, so when in doubt, don’t.” Well, we had to retire that mindset pretty quickly because the children were ruthless. We were seen as jungle gyms, dance partners, airplane rides, human swings, basically, indestructible. Why were these children so intent on having physical contact with us? So unabashedly curious and vulnerable? How could they have this much joy? Weren’t they aware of their situation? Didn’t they know we were only going to be there for an hour? Why were they letting themselves get attached? What could I do to actually help them? What good were we doing? Dancing wasn’t actually something that could improve their situation. Or was it?
All of these questions floating around in my mind, too much to bear and be present in the moment, I gave them up to God. “Lord Jesus, your will, you know the reason we’re here, I don’t need to know it, I just need to know what You want me to do right now.” What was our purpose, our tangible mission? It was to dance. So I danced. I twirled little girls whose faces lit up as they spun, I twirled little boys who hadn’t yet been told they’re not supposed to enjoy that. I picked up and spun as many hands as I could hold. And I prayed. I prayed that they would know a God who would pick them up when they reached their hands high, that would hold out a finger and twirl them till they were dizzy and their faces ached from smiling, that they would rely on that same God to forever embrace them when the parent that should be is nowhere to be found.
“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” ~1 Thessalonians 2:8
I am praying they know their worth not by this world’s standards but by the relationship that the God, most high, desires of and with them.
Discovering one’s self worth is a difficult endeavor for any human in this world. It humbly, and powerfully begins in the affection we have from our earthly creators and caretakers; our parents. With that role empty, the leap to finding it in a God that is not of this world, that we cannot see, seems impossible. However, I don’t think Jesus came just to save us, He came to know us, and to let us know Him. He came to comfort, to heal, to listen, to understand, to be, with us.
We couldn’t, can’t “save” every one, or even one of the beautiful orphaned children we met in Panama. What we could do was be with them. What we did do was dance with them and share countless laughs and smiles. What we will do is to continue praying for the children, the potential families, and that the government will continue to work towards uniting the two.