A dollar amount.
It has never sat well with me.
That some one could name a price and buy a baby.
I still remember the taunt on the schoolyard playground.
“Your parents bought you? I hope they didn’t pay very much because your skin is dirty.”
A one-two sucker punch.
I didn’t care much for my adoption as a child and wondered why things couldn’t have been different.
However, the color of my skin didn’t raise shame until that moment.
My adoptive parents didn’t use color as an indication of anything. One brother biological to my adoptive parents and also one from South Korea, my life saw color differences as the norm. Our family was a little mosaic a decade or two before it became more common place.
But beneath the monkey bars, not far from the cement tunnel I liked to sit in when the days were hot, I was left standing feeling unworthy of much.
The nun a few weeks ago sat with her lips pursed.
I thought I may have driven all that way to Notre Dame and would not get a single story out of her. She had told me to come soon. (Click here to read of it.)
My mind started to busy at the cost and impulsivity of the trip. My physical body flirted with using less air but I felt it and kept breathing steady.
Her smiled had disappeared and it baffled me. Her mind travelled far away, though her hand still tightly gripped mine.
I grew uncomfortable. For all the joy that washed over her from the time we had walked in until then, I sensed we had lost some momentum and I didn’t want to be a part of that.
I convinced myself in a few short seconds that I didn’t belong there and that my friend would surely bring me back home if I just asked her to.
Her green shirt was soft. It reminded me of what grandmas, well, nursing home grandmas would wear. I looked at the flowers on it and noticed that they rose and fell with her natural breathing. She wasn’t uncomfortable yet. She was still relaxed.
So what was she summoning? Memories? An answer? Regret for my visit or her work in Bangladesh?
I was about to fill the silence so the hum of the heater had some competition for volume.
And then she spoke.
Her head turned slightly as to perhaps meet my eyes and then she shifted her gaze to my hands.
I was back to the playground. I saw my color and wondered how she viewed all the little babies who were radically different than she. My heart knew the answer. She must have loved us much.
She saw my color and she cherished it. It brought her back to a land and people that had become her own.
Her words interrupted my reflection and she whispered the story. The quiet calm words pierced the darkness of the memory.
She released facts and emotions in rapid succession that met my heart well and caused me to bleed all at the same time.
And then she stopped.
Staring me squarely in the eyes and said, “I am so very glad your parents gave you a good home. They changed your life. You are worth it. You would have been Muslim, you know. That would have been nice too, but I am glad you got to come.”
Those sentences, packed with depth right after a her heart-wrenching story. (Which I will share a bit of next week Friday) left my thoughts pulsating.
I could not develop a long string of thoughts that made sense. Just quick blips of truth my heart was able to hear.
I was bought at a price, but I was gifted life in this.
My life held promise, not because of the color of my skin but because I was placed in a family and future opportunities were present.
People are different from one another because of where they grow up, how they are wired, AND how they react to their circumstances. Different. Not better or worse. Ever.
Many times in my life I have had to reclaim my worth.
I have had to reach for real; real truth, and discard the lies.
My worth feels threatened by people’s statements and actions to me, their pride and their shame in me, the number of those that leave and those that rally around.
But the truth is, my worth, as is yours, is innate. We are created with beauty, purpose, and to be loved as us.
We can refine and reach for real as we grow and stretch through life’s experiences, but our worth is ours to claim.
The nun. She reminded me of this.
The friend. She tells me of this repeatedly.
The Scriptures. They declare this out loud with power.
Can you hear who is saying that circumstances and prices aside, you are worthy to be there? You get to do life. Live it strong!
Can you get past the naysayers, the external differences, the claims of yourself or others to be superior?
We are all worth the price love is.
Can you be this voice in someone else’s life?
Can you grab the hand of someone or send them an email to share how the world is better because they are here?
Tell them they hold beauty.
Tell them their story matters.
Remind them of who they are.
Baby for sale?
Perhaps a little crude and a little true.
And if there was a dollar amount, am I worth that cost?
Today is when I start living like it. Worth every penny.
So friend, for all that you enjoy and for that which you endure, listen with me to the voices that tell of your worth. Chase hope.
Jason Gray’s “Tell Me Once Again Who I Am to You” http://youtu.be/eKyY8zfjBMQ
I am speaking in Pennsylvania this weekend at the Winsome Retreat, honored to get to encourage others to reclaim their worth.