Sometimes we will experience painful emotions before the blessings of God are enacted in our lives. As an infant and a toddler, I was passed back and forth to various people before my final adoption at around 15 months old. This constant flux lasted until I was officially adopted into my loving family, and it later led to deep emotional struggles. My adopted family is as much a part of me, as if they were biological family—in some ways, even more so. That is how much I love them and belong to them as a daughter and sister. Many times growing up, I forgot I was adopted, despite how different I looked.
Yet growing attached to my early caregivers, and then detaching from them, was a very difficult process for me. However, by God’s grace, I overcame the emotional hardships I experienced as a child, and the underlying struggles I later dealt with when relating to others. Those early feelings and emotions were hidden and unidentified for a long time because I’ve always felt at home with my family, and I didn’t recognize the source of my insecurity until later on. For instance, if I didn’t know how close I was to someone within the context of a meaningful friendship, I almost felt like I had to “guard myself,” thus becoming moody and closed-off. This insecurity ruled my life growing up, and I constantly felt like I had to know how meaningful I was to someone. Subconsciously, the uncertainty led me to feel vulnerable, wondering if I would get hurt again like I was as a toddler, constantly ripped away from people I loved. Having to know how much I meant to someone was an unhealthy insecurity that I didn’t understand. It wasn’t until I took my underlying, emotional struggles to God that he revealed to me the root cause. By clinging to him, I grew through those emotions to emerge healthy and whole. To keep pushing them off would’ve been a detriment to my character and who I was, because my insecurities would’ve remained hidden, unknown, and quite possibly grown worse.
My point is, sometimes we have to walk a journey of emotional pain before we can step into a better area of life God has in store for us. We can have joy and freedom! It’s not always about avoiding emotional pain at whatever cost, but choosing to grow through that pain during the journey. I chose to love and embrace my family. I chose to work through attachment and detachment struggles by taking them to God and allowing him to work in me. I would have never grown through it, nor would I have become stronger, had I tried to handle it all myself. Had I tried to overcome such emotions on my own, and just will myself through it, I wouldn’t be joyful, warm, and as embracing. I would be this super intense, I-don’t-need-anyone-in-my-life-person.
As tough as life can be with the various emotional struggles we face, it is my hope and prayer for you to gain strength and be encouraged through less-than-easy processes. I encourage you to be intentional, strong, and motivated. But most of all, I encourage you to allow yourself to be open before God with whatever you are going through in life. Yes, he is a mighty and powerful God, but he is also the One you can trust the most when in a vulnerable place while bearing your heart.
Tears were in my eyes from constant attachment and detachment. This is a wonderful missionary; she and her husband remained an important part throughout my life. They used to be my parents’ pastors. That is how the connection was made.
Wes and Ruby Wests – Missionaries to the Philippines.
The life-changing transition that was an amazing outcome! My brother was so excited to have a little sister.