Evicting the Orphan Inside You
At some point in almost every person’s life, needs don’t get met. Maybe we were abused – our need for protection forgotten. Maybe we were hungry – our need for food was a gnawing ache reminding us we’re alone.
If that’s you, maybe you learned that if you didn’t do something, you would end up holding the short-end of the stick. So you learned the habit of expecting scarcity. And you learned the habit of fighting to meet your needs.
As an adult, things change. You may have a good job and plenty to eat, but still feel like an orphan. You may find yourself reflexively acting out of a scarcity mentality when the reality is that you have more than you need.
What do you do if those expectations and habits that you learned as a child are no longer relevant as an adult? Most people struggle to make the change.
Living out of old habits
We look good on the outside, but inside, the orphan is clawing and scratching to meet the needs that never got met.
I talked to the wife of a famous actor. He had made her life miserable because he never matured beyond a stage of adolescence. Every day he continues to live out of the habits of a young boy whose needs were never met.
If you look inside, what do you see? Is there is an orphan in there who is still making those closest to you miserable?
Or perhaps you are oblivious to what others so plainly see. You may be the source of so much of their pain. Your orphan behavior may be so habitual that you feel it can’t be helped; it’s just a part of you.
Time for an eviction notice
Consider that perhaps it is time to evict him or her. Perhaps there is another way to live that will allow you to realize your life purpose.
It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Here are some specific steps to take:
- The first step is to get to better self-awareness. Ask for feedback from two or three people who you trust to be honest and not shade the truth. Promise them you will listen and not be defensive. When you get the feedback say “thank you” and write it down.
- Pray and meditate about it for a week. Where did the orphan behavior come from? Ask God to show you its source. Journal this out.
- Write a grief journal. Here’s how. It’s important to grieve what you lost.
- Do you have a friend who can help you process this? If so, ask them to help you ask and answer the questions that will get at the root of the issue. If not, consider seeing a good counselor. This is important work to do. It’s worth the money.
- Practice living out of abundance. God has gifted you with so much. Life is not a zero sum game. When your friends win, you do not lose. Daily practice rejoicing with friends who have something to be thankful for or celebrate. Do this for at least a month. Look for accountability – someone to report in to if you slip back into an orphan mindset.
Remember, you are a son or daughter of the most high king. He has given you the keys to the kingdom. It’s time to start living that way!
Really really really good! I do empowerment counseling for trauma (orphaned) folks and you nailed it. In the daily events or “what’s happening now”, we inevitably put events through the filter of our Life Story. What we do is try to help people stop justifying everything, or as you say, evicting the orphan, and instead use the good influencers we’ve all had.
Which is why I want to say this. This is why it is so important for us to invest our time
where God is asking us and intentionally build value into these kids and this generation. The world is an unbiased trap for so many and instead of looking the other way, we live mercifully in their lives because we know what it’s like to be rescued by our God stronger than the trapper.
“We escaped like a bird from a hunters trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!” – Psalm 124:7
“…make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, our Lords patience gives people time to be saved.” – Peter 3:14-15
Seth I appreciate your insights constantly.
Thank you, Spence. I would like to learn more about how you counsel with people. Please share with me any resources that have been helpful to you. Thanks for the compliment.
Excellent! Thank you.
Great post that could turn into a great series. Seeing God as our dear Father is not promoted enough. As the father told the older brother – “All that I have is yours” When we finally realize this – there is unlimited joy.
These last two posts were really great, do you think we ever get to a point when the orphan spirit never comes up? Day to day I feel like it changes for me leaning more towards orphan some days when life gets the most stressful but knowing I am a son.
I think the closer we get to our core needs not getting met, the more the orphan begins to rise up and complain. Just read “Man’s Search for Meaning.” There’s an orphan inside all of us. Some have just been well-loved.
I really loved this. But I saw it in relation to the next post, orphan care, all about meeting orphans’ needs. It seems what you’re saying is actually about that, belying your title – we are showing the inner orphan they can let go and trust, because now our needs are met. Of course, that assumes that we habitually know and are meeting them. Knowing and meeting my needs (alongside God) is one of the ways I care for my orphan and honor God.
It reminds me of the title story in Sleeping With Bread, about children of the Holocaust who could not sleep after their rescue for fear of the future’s further abuse and starvation. They were given pieces of bread to hold at night, and slept knowing they would eat tomorrow. You might like that book. It likens holding bread to a practice of daily awareness of those places in our day that were “life” and “death” to us, attending those as part of how God leads.
Zihna – thanks for noting that linkage. And what a great illustration you shared! I checked out that book. It boils down to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – we get stuck at our place of lowest unmet need.
Love his two questions:
1. What are you most grateful for?
2. What are you least grateful for?
Consolation in the one and desolation in the other. Excellent.