This weekend, I found myself surrounded by piles of stuff. Stuff to donate. Stuff to get rid of. I have been on a mission to simplify things. A worthy pursuit, certainly. But I usually start these kinds of projects when I'm feeling unsettled. I wasn't exactly sure why I was feeling that way. As I watched precious Kai this morning running around, laughing, playing, loving, it struck me. July 4th was the day this sweet boy was abandoned. Holding my precious little boy, it hits me more.
I have been thinking a lot of his parents. On this date, his parents made the desperate decision to leave him behind. Just like hundreds of families who are unable to financially provide for sick or disabled children, they felt he would have a better chance to survive if he was cared for by the state. I imagine his mom, who carried him in her belly for 9 months, gave birth to him and carried him in her arms for 9 months. What was the moment she realized she couldn't care for him? When did the joy of her new baby turn to grief knowing she couldn't provide for him? As she traveled from somewhere in the city to the orphanage, beautifully surrounded by trees, nestled in the mountains, what did she think about? She approached this building, laid sweet Kai down for the final time and walked away. Her baby's cries muffled as the door closed. The walk away from the orphanage must have been just as heart breaking as the walk there. Her decision to leave him in the care of the state was her only hope that he could have a better life (I recently found these articles about the exact hatchery where Kai was left in Jinan. If you're interested, please read this (article #1 and article #2) and check out the video and photos.). The bracelets she left with him were a tangible reminder of that. These bracelets are a cultural sign of luck, as if to say whoever finds her little boy may be able to give him hope. Surely she put great thought and care into naming this baby. But this unnamed child now laid in a crib, void of any family, all connection, waiting for a nurse to find him.
This darling little boy was abandoned, rejected, deserted. There's something about this thought that makes my mommy heart ache. The end of the story is that he became my son. Without being rejected, he never would have been mine. Before he could speak, he experienced the kind of rejection that I fear, the kind of rejection that makes my heart skip a beat and makes me lose my breath.
We have all experienced rejection to some degree. Sometimes we don't feel accepted by the people we want to embrace us. We may open ourselves up to receive a response of misunderstanding. We share our hearts and others may think it is unimportant. We don't get jobs. We don't make teams. We feel alone. Sometimes our circumstances make us feel rejected. Our posts may not be retweeted, liked or shared. We may not get the accolades we hope for. We go through seasons where we just feel alone.
Part of our experience in this broken world is feeling rejected. While Jesus was on earth, he continually faced rejection. He was rejected by the people of his home town, religious leaders and his closest friends. People rejected the truth and love that He shared. Jesus lived perfectly, shared the Gospel perfectly, loved perfectly yet he was rejected. Through His death on the cross, He was rejected by God. He was rejected by God so that if we turn to Him in faith, we never would experience this rejection.
July 4th is the day Kai was abandoned. But is also the day he was found. An alarm sounded in the orphanage as the door closed on the baby hatchery. Staff quickly approached the hatchery to find a sweet baby boy lying there. No one would ever know his name, where he was from or who called him theirs only a few hours before. They picked him up, comforted him and walked him up the road towards the orphanage. After a brief time of being alone, homeless and uncared for, his life changed. A doctor examined him, gave him a new name and provided the care he needed to survive. This orphanage-- a home for the homeless, a place of care for the abandoned and rejected-- is where he would find life. For this little boy now named Sun JiaXu , this orphanage would be a place of healing, growth and life. The name he was given by the doctor, JiaXu means springtime warmth. After he was found, he spent 22 months known as Sun JiaXu. He spent 22 months growing and healing. After he was found, his life took on a kind of springtime warmth. The warmth of spring feels especially sweet because it comes after winter. His life was impacted even more by this springtime warmth because of the loss he had just experienced. He couldn't be found without first being lost. How incredibly grateful I am that he was found.
As grateful as I am that Kai was found, I am even more thankful that I have been found too. I was lost, dead in my sin and without hope. But God called me to Himself. He gave me a new name. He made me His child. He replaced the hopelessness of a cold, dark winter with the sweet warmth of spring. All of this is mine because Jesus was rejected on the cross.
Because of the ultimate rejection Jesus endured, I will never experience total rejection. God will never leave me. Never. He will be with me when I am faithless. He will love me when I'm unlovely. He will pursue me when I turn away. I may feel misunderstood. I may feel alone in my circumstances. I may even feel like no one really gets my experience. But I will never be alone. I will always have a Father who cares deeply. I will always have the love and comfort of my Savior. Jesus experienced every kind of rejection. He understands and He is with me. Always with me.
This year as I held my baby on the day he was abandoned, I felt his pain. My heart aches because of loss that he doesn't fully realize. So often, his experience reminds me so much of my spiritual reality. I am humbled to be part of his story. I am overjoyed that he is mine. I am grateful that God uses the story of this two year old to comfort me, to teach me and remind me of his presence in moments when I feel alone.
I thank God that Kai was found. I guess that means I thank God that He was lost. I wish I could tell his precious mother that he is okay. My heart aches that she can't see the absolute joy that he is today. I am so thankful for the people who found him and that I get to be with him now. This loss he experienced is the kind of broken that cannot be undone. It's the kind of broken that God redeems. It's the kind of scar that God uses to make Himself known. It's the unbeautiful things in all of us that God makes beautiful if we allow Him in. Don't hide what's broken. Face what hurts. This is exactly what God redeems.
On the days when Kai feels rejected-- on the days Kai feels loved-- Kai's reality is unchanged. Kai is loved. Kai belongs. Kai is never alone. On the days when I feel rejected-- on the days when I feel loved-- my reality is unchanged. I am loved. I belong. I am never alone.
Be strong and courageous.
Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the LORD your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.