If you are the black sheep of the family, no one actually has to tell you. You know.
As a matter of fact, it has been told to you for years – but no words may have ever been spoken about it at all.
Regardless, it is no secret.
I am a black sheep.
Only my younger brother has been by my side for all these years, for that I am extremely grateful. And humbled. For he fought those who wished to shut me out – with no ulterior motive, no secret goal, he has always loved me.
I reflected these past few weeks on my life and family relationships; it became painfully obvious that I have been on the outside looking in – for many years.
Who ever said blood was thicker than water was not the black sheep.
For over 30 years I have been the outcast – the one no one wanted to talk about or be around. The one whose marriage of the same length of time was disregarded; the one whose adopted children were unaccepted and unacknowledged; the ones that came into my life via my wife were persona non grata.
But I have been blessed beyond measure in my life. And well beyond what I have ever deserved.
God gave me a wife who (even today) loves me unconditionally. Her family took me in as one of their own. No reservations. Through depressions, business start-ups and shut-downs, days of affluence and those of not-so-much. Three children. Six grandchildren. The family I lived within and loved since adulthood – having little connection with the one I was born into. Those I loved later, not welcomed into the fold.
For over 30 years.
It would be nice to know that I am loved for who I am.
For the man I have become.
A solid, Bible-believing Christian husband and father. I kept my family in church and have not strayed very far from the Baptist roots of my childhood. Married and devoted for these many years to a woman who has given more to me than she has ever asked in return. A woman who has endured the torments silently as she watched me struggle through it all. Supporting me as I moved through life disconnected from a childhood and past. Though she would never understand why it tortured me so. Knowing that I would never go home again, because the door was closed.
It needn’t have been.
For none of my accomplishments and commitments were enough to satisfy the things that were found wanting, whether real or imagined. Even as, over the years, I have stepped up whenever called upon to stand in the gap – emotionally, spiritually and financially – a birth family asks something from me that I cannot deliver. I can do nothing to change the tide of past feelings, hurts, indiscretions or failures.
Certainly, I have failed at some things.
But haven’t we all?
The tears flowed in the darkness of nights these last few weeks that left me wondering why I have not been accepted for who I am.
Unnecessary. Disenfranchised. Persona non grata. Unimportant. Empty.
Background. Filler. Invisible.
Unloved. The worst of them all.
What an eye-opening revelation. For years, I pretended that it didn’t matter. But, it does. How wonderful it must be to have that unconditional love from a parent. From siblings. To know that you belong. To know that you are treasured, just as you are.
To be fair, over the years, my other siblings have gradually become more open to my being a card-carrying member of the family. Some family members and friends never will. Birthdays, holidays will continue to pass as if just marking time on the calendar.
I don’t need to explain my life. My family. My goals. My dreams. Or my relationship with God.
Even if sometimes I feel so compelled. But it is important to know that I have never really changed. I have always been who I am. (Though I used to have a lot more hair.)
The black sheep – on the outside, looking in. But it is temporary.
Just as my adopted family enveloped me completely into the circle, my Lord and Savior does the same.
I suppose I will always be the black sheep. On this place we share called earth.
On the outside looking in.
But – on the other side – when we meet in Heaven, we will all be accepted and adopted. There will be no outside there. I ask for no sympathy, and certainly, no pity. My life has been full, for I am adopted.
Take another look at the black sheep in your family.
Jesus welcomes us all. Soon, we are coming inside too.
Adoption – now, that blood, the blood of Jesus, is thicker than water.