This is interesting. I think we are going to get pretty deep here. Isn’t that just a Freaky Friday? I think for us to be friends, we have to trust each other to get pretty personal. This statement isn’t meant to hurt or offend anyone, but all of my young life I have felt alone and that I didn’t belong. If you don’t know who I am, and just clicked this post out of nowhere, then you have felt or is feeling that way, too.
I was convinced I was adopted and that my parents kept it a secret.
I’ve always questioned, why is my brother more loved? Why does it seem like he fit better in my family? Everyone seemed so smart and so put together and there I was: consumed in my questions and lost in my thoughts. Even the nannies, the chauffeur, and the maids seemed to love him more. We were living in Indonesia, if you questioned why we even had them. My parents were pretty lucky with their inheritance. I think, if I remember correctly: my grandparents GAVE my dad their house. Like literally, who gives a house?
Back to my child self. This is not of my teenage years by the way. I was six. Yes, six years old thinking about things like this. I wanted them to pay attention to me so badly that I pretended I was sleepwalking. Although, I saw my parents shocked reaction in their eyes from my half open eye… that I felt so bad I never did it again. I thought just a glimpse of recognition would last me just a little bit of time.
My parents worked a lot and also I think they were going to school as well. I guess you can call me a babysitter’s baby. When they were home, it seemed like it was still a distance away. When they were not home, I can remember many times where the nannies, eh, didn’t take a liking to me. One of the nanny took my brother out for a walk to a candy shop. I wanted to go so badly that I cried at the gates trying to open it as they walked away. She told me in Bahasa Indonesia, “You’re not my responsibility.” What a gut wrencher! A child feeling entrapped by the feeling of loneliness, I didn’t even realize I hurt myself as I slid down my back against the gate in disappointment. I didn’t even feel it. The same nanny would throw insects at my bowl of food if I didn’t eat it fast enough. She just didn’t want to be around me and if I was, she would make it known to me that I was not wanted.
Alright, as an adult I realize she was definitely a bad nanny. The point was that she didn’t exactly help my dilemma of not belonging. Fast forward a year later, my parents took my brother and I to the mall to buy prayer attire. I honestly can’t remember what they’re called, but I was raised a Muslim in Indonesia where it is majority the religion of Islam. The men wore some type of hat called “Paci” I think and the women wore a covering that covered from hair to toe. I remember I wanted what my brother got. I wanted to be like my brother so they’ll like me just as much! Sadly, they told me I am a girl and instead I get a covering that literally hid all of me. Not that I felt invisible enough…
I asked my mom, “Why do the men wear that and the women wear this? And how come all the men are in the front during prayer and the women are in the back with children? Why is a woman considered half a man? Why is there a dress code to pray to God?” I don’t think these questions helped me. I started to think God wasn’t kind and that He just loved men better and women were just a mistake of his creation. There were so many rules, that I felt like it was impossible to reach God. I was afraid of God.
I was afraid of my family finding out I was thinking like this.
So if I wasn’t like them, and didn’t think or act like them, I am surely adopted. I didn’t belong anywhere. Years after that, we left Indonesia and I found myself living in a new place. Here, in the United States. New place, but same girl. These same thoughts and questions still followed even until teenage years. I think at one point I almost sent in a blood sample to see if I was actually their daughter. I didn’t though.
This state of mind does no one good. You can bet all of my teenage years were full of finding love and approval. Only to find out that every each attempt would further put me in a deeper hole.
When I was thirteen, I was visiting my friend’s house on a Saturday. She had a youth group to go to and told me I can come. I didn’t tell my parents that detail so they would drop me off at her house anyway. Teens, this is NOT a permission to hide things from your parents to go to a party. JUST SAYING.
I thought, wow, we can wear this to the service? We both wore clips in our hairs without a single covering to our hair. Just a T-shirt and jeans, and that was it. Hmm, what an interesting attire to go to a prayer. My friend and I stood at the front. Girls. We were allowed to stand in the front? I sang, clapped, and moved to the beat of the music. People are literally PRAISING God. What are they praising Him for? He’s just a scary dude to me. Nothing to praise about. Although, I was intrigued and that visit created more questions in this annoying brain of mine.
When I was fifteen, I remember my family and I drove across the states from California to Virginia. Talk about a road trip! By the way, this road trip is not what you would call a vacation. Anyway, My mom told me about her younger years and how at one point she had to go to Catholic school??? I am still so confused how she even did and like, why? She told me about some kind of prayer they had to learn but told me not to actually pray it. How WEIRD.
Well, I learned that prayer.
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come.
thy will be done
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
I looked up at the stars from the car window in the wee late of the night as my dad drove and prayed it. Wait a minute. What is this? Why did I pray this and felt something different? A good different, but confused definitely. The word forgive is alien to me. All I knew was a God who kept a record of wrongs and that I had to be careful with how I live my life. All the things I’ve done would cause heaviness on my body as I walked on the line that is as thin as a hair strand on my head to the path of heaven. That little lie. That little deed. It’s recorded.
What is forgiveness if sins were counted? What will that is to be done? Literally what freaking kingdom? Since when does God deliver us from evil?
Honestly, I was just thinking of the evil nannies of my youth at this point. My parents were great parents. They were the textbook parents of great parents who provided us with shelter, food, and safety. Although, I just didn’t know love, where I belonged or to whom I belonged. I didn’t know of such things.
After my parents separated at seventeen, that was the end of it. I just let it go and it didn’t even matter anymore. My family was broken, so it didn’t even matter if I didn’t belong. I think as a woman and even a man, it’s crucial to have a sense of belonging, right? But as a woman specifically, I think it set an example on how my relationships with men would be like. I won’t get into that here, but I think I would save my daughters a lot of heartache teaching them the love of God. The God who made himself flesh to die for us. The God, the Father who became a man to save us, even the women. The Husband who waits for us at the altar for His bride. The kind of love who would sacrifice Himself to save His beloved.
When I was eighteen and nineteen, after a couple years of idleness and eh, meh, heartbreaks, I realized maybe I shouldn’t have stopped asking to know God. Those questions became actions. Of course, I could drive and had my own car. Surely, I can find out myself by now. I landed in a church just a few minutes from where I lived. My friend April and her parents would meet me there each Sunday. I still think of them as God sent. From their own story and experiences, they taught me the love of God.
Her mom, Stephanie, answered all the questions that I asked my mother long ago. Her dad, Gary, taught me the history behind the religion of Islam. Before it even had a name, it existed in the years of Nebuchadnezzar. Uncle Gary was a changed man from what I gathered from their stories and he wasn’t ashamed to shed tears in front of me. I remember that vividly because April yelled out, “Dad! Stop!” LOL. And now as an adult, from diving into the book of Genesis, I learned how worshipping the wrong God was formed out of God’s people walking away from Him and not trusting His promises.
Friends, I wasn’t adopted. I was by blood my parents’ child. The sense of unbelonging and my years being lost in the desert was God whispering to me that I needed to find Him. That place was not where I belonged. I had a place set for me and I had a name. I HAVE a name and He called me by it when I was six, thirteen, fifteen, and eighteen. He continues to call my name after thirty years of life.
I needed to find where I belonged. I needed to find God. I didn’t know it then, but that was God tugging at me, whispering to me, nudging me not to settle. He told me that I was not bound by my earthly bloodline and their beliefs or ways of life.
My years of feeling isolated, God swooped in and got me to ask questions. Questions that eventually brought me home. From Islam, to atheist, to agnostic, to researching different religions on what they believed (reincarnation, anyone?), and finally learning about Jesus.
My journey from Islam to Jesus was painful.
The abandonment and being disowned was heartbreaking, Please know that the feeling of peace during a storm is real. That is the Spirit coming down from Heaven and holding you. Letting you know that you are being taken care of. That faith I held led me to know that the hardship wouldn’t be long lived. If I didn’t know anything else, I knew God was with me.
Jesus, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah, my Father who sacrificed Himself to save me. The God who forgives, the God who is relentless when it comes to me finding my Home, the God who restores. Although it took decades of me afterwards from finding Jesus to truly learning what all of that means… I know whose I am. I know who my Father is. I know love. I learned that the word God and Love is one and the same.
So if you’re reading this right now and feeling trapped, there is a Way.
If you’re feeling alone, read again my story, and see how God was with me.
If you know you have questions that need to be answered, don’t be silent.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7
Do not be bound by your circumstances, community, or bloodline. God is bigger than that and the only bloodline you belong to is God’s. He wants you. Yes! You! Your name is called and is called by your Father. From one person that once was lost to another seeking to find the Way, I love you. And since God can love little ol’ me, He loves you, too. Believe THAT. Thank you for being here and tell me your name so I can keep you in my prayers. Have a beautiful day and I will see you later!
P.S: Things to learn: Be persistent like Jacob through your own struggles and mistakes. (Read Genesis starting in chapter 25, verse 19) and Be patient and trusting like Joseph from all the unfairness of life. (Read Genesis 37)