Out With the Old, In With the New

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.—Galatians 6:9

When Anah arrived, she didn’t have much—just a small bag with some of the clothes we sent her (we have no idea where the others went), a tambourine, a Kleenex, and the clothes she was wearing. What we didn’t see was the baggage she didn’t carry.

This is our lovingly packed suitcase full of things for Anah when we met her. She arrived with even less. Now, we would pack different things: sturdy shoes (she struggles with balance so cute flip flops are out) and clothes in a much smaller size! Thankfully, God knows what we need and will do a far better job of packing than we did!

This is our lovingly packed suitcase full of things for Anah when we met her. She arrived with even less. Now, we would pack different things: sturdy shoes (she struggles with balance so cute flip flops are out) and clothes in a much smaller size! Thankfully, God knows what we need and will do a far better job of packing than we did!

From the time she was found on a roadside crossing in China to the day we met her, Anah had been in and out of foster homes and orphanages. She was and still is a tiny little thing. Her processing time is very slow. (Think of the sloths in the movie Zootopia. That is the speed she functions. That scene was too realistic for us to be funny.) She has little concept of cause and effect and is limited in her reasoning abilities.

But she is smart. She found a way to get out of doing a lot of things—don’t ask me how but from reports we heard, she was the little princess. People either didn’t expect her to do much or found her too slow to bother with, so she didn’t come with many self-help skills. It’s not that she wasn’t capable. It’s just that it wasn’t expected. That works in an orphanage, but not in a family—at least not in ours, where we expected all our kids to pitch in and help, even if it was simply taking care of themselves.

And so the past five years has been a lot of undoing of the old patterns of helplessness that Anah has learned in her seven years of life. There are still times now when she looks shocked that we would actually expect her to do it herself! She may have grown in a lot of ways, but these ordinary, daily self-care tasks of life, are what we struggle with the most. It’s not about her learning abilities.

We rail and complain about these things, but God is teaching me something about myself and that is this: I am no different. When He adopted me, I came with a lot of baggage as well. I had trained patterns of sin, self-centeredness, and survival tactics that worked well in my old life but have no place in the new.

Anah, Oct. 2012: One of the bad habits we had to undo was her habit of sitting at the dinner table with her leg propped up. That took us awhile. Along the way, we've also had to teach her how to wipe her mouth while she's eating--a skill we're still needing to remind her about today!

Anah, Oct. 2012: One of the bad habits we had to undo was her habit of sitting at the dinner table with her leg propped up. That took us awhile. Along the way, we've also had to teach her how to wipe her mouth while she's eating--a skill we're still needing to remind her about today!

But now, in His family, my heavenly Father must also teach me a new way of living, loving, and thinking that is completely unlike—even opposite—of my natural tendencies. Unlike me, however, He is infinitely patient, even though He must work with me over and over on the same things.

Yes, Anah may have a new name, a new family, a new home, but there are many times I want to give up because that process of transformation takes so long. I pray that I may be able to stick with her though, as God sticks with me, and continue to do what is right and good to her and for her. The harvest is yet to come.

Dear friend, if you likewise struggle with stubborn "orphan" habits that you just cannot shake, take comfort. The process of transforming us into His children will take a lifetime. Keep making those little turns, making those little choices to do good. Even if it is at a snail's pace (or a sloth's!), our patient and loving Father rejoices in our progress too.