• Christa Hollingshead

We Belong

Cozied between my two four-year-olds, I sat reading stories when my youngest, biological child stated, “Mom, I’m adopted.” I casually responded, “No, you aren’t.” My blonde-haired, ivory-shaded son emphatically announced, “Yes, I am!” I, again, simply stated, “No, you are not. But Micah is.” With utter shock and disbelief, my dark-haired, ebony shaded child, Micah, questioned, “What? I’m adopted?”

Fast forward a couple of months and again Myles made another startling announcement. This time he shouted to our sweet neighbors, Mr. Joe and Mrs. Daryl, “Hey, you match my brother.” I wanted to die! I did not know these people well and had no idea how they would respond. Their response was a smile, a wave, and “Yeah, we do match, isn’t that great.” I would later discover that they too are members of Central Baptist and have lovingly and graciously tolerated little boys running in and out of their backyard retrieving soccer balls and frisbees! Add our red-headed friend Davis to the mix and this threesome generates quite a few funny looks and lots of questions. I must shamefully admit that we thoroughly enjoy confusing the average onlooker. Davis once told his parents that he and Micah were twins, that they “go together like peanut butter and jelly.” Oh, to see people through the innocent eyes of children! Our adoption journey has been filled with funny stories similar to those above. However, not all our stories have been riddled with humor.

Just a couple of years ago, this sweet brown boy of mine sat snuggled in tears asking why he didn’t match us and questioned if he belonged in our family. Trying to stifle the tears, I held tightly and tried my best to reassure him that he did belong right here!! Then the Lord provided a great reminder. When living in Kentucky, our area was experiencing some racial tension. I called my mom just to let her know what was occurring and that we were okay. Days later, I received a very cryptic response from her…”Micah is black, duh.” My mother had finally understood the reason for my call and realized that she did not even notice the color differences in our home. It was then that the beauty of adoption hit me. Micah is viewed as a Hollingshead just like our three biological children. There is no difference. He is ours, and he fits right here!

But how often do we think like Micah? How often do we look at the exterior and make assumptions, pass judgments, or simply question our belonging? Do we focus on the differences or the similarities? Our churches should be a beautiful kaleidoscope of ethnicity and nationality where our neighbors witness counter-cultural views of unity among diversity. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have all been adopted into His family. We no longer need to fixate on the color of our skin, the expense of our dress, the accent in our speech. If we are in Christ, then we belong.

I share our story, not simply as an anecdotal account of our family’s experience, but as a beautiful illustration of the spiritual adoption we receive as believers in Jesus Christ. Paul, inspired by the Spirit of God, writes of our adoption. Romans 8:15-18 declares our new status:

“We have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

WE BELONG!!! We are His. He is our Father. As adopted children, we should no longer wonder about belonging, fitting in, looking like everyone else. We must confidently embrace our adoption in Christ and our identity as family members.

I jokingly say that Micah’s pregnancy and delivery were my easiest ones! However, this really wasn’t the case. We spent a year covered in paperwork. Then a year waiting for the phone call. Then a year waiting for legal finalization. All of these years were bathed in prayer and tears. It was a costly process: financially, emotionally, mentally, etc. It was worth every bit when this precious child became truly ours. Micah did nothing to earn his status of son in our family. He did not select us. He does not have to maintain it. Though costly, he paid nothing. He is forever our son.

Ephesians 1:4-6 states that,

“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”

Just like baby Micah, I did nothing to earn my adoption status. I did not select God, but He chose me. I do not have to worry about maintaining my salvation. Though it was costly, it cost me nothing. Christ paid for the entire thing. I am forever His child.

You might wonder, as Micah has, why? Why would we be chosen? Notice Ephesians 1:6, ”to the praise of the glory of His grace.” We exist to bring God glory. One of my favorite preachers, Tony Evans, stated that we were created to bring Him glory and we will all do it either “voluntarily or mandatorily.” Our adoption status is for the purpose of bringing God glory. It allows me to bring Him glory “voluntarily” now as I live on this earth.

Though our skin reflects different levels of melanin, our hair feels of various textures, and our eyes shine an array of colors, we are family. We belong. We fit. We are tethered together because of our individual faith in Jesus Christ. Might we live in unity, growing in faith, focused on our status as sons and daughters of the Almighty King who has mercifully and graciously adopted us into His family.

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