The words, “i am worthy” have been hard for me to believe for most of my life. When i was a teenager, i allowed myself to slip into the lie that i am worthless and forgettable and normal. My freshman year of college, Jesus did what He does best and He made beauty from the ashes. He began showing me His light in the midst of the gross darkness that i had made my normal.
Right around the climax of Jesus’ remodel of my life, He took me to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala with twenty four strangers and a lot of knee length skirts. The two months i spent there were full and hot and abundant. i went to Puerto Barrios one person and i left another and that truth is only by God’s grace. Our God is truly in the business of making beauty from the dust. He is constantly creating new and wonderful things in and around us, which i think is so cool.
While we were in Puerto Barrios, i met an orphan named Kevin. He is five years old and he has cinnamon skin and dark brown eyes. He is growing like a weed and he has the energy of a puppy. God used that tiny little human to teach me world-shattering lessons, like who i am in Him and how loved i am and how He looks at me. We should never underestimate the power of God to use someone in our lives. Kevin was four when i met him and we spent less than five hours together and hardly spoke to each other, but i wouldn’t be who i am today if i hadn’t met him.
Saying goodbye to Kevin last year was far from easy, especially because he is a punk and he spent most of our time together ripping out my hair or screaming at me. Our relationship was far from ideal or sweet, but it was what it needed to be and my time with Kevin changed my life.
In the time since i said my first goodbye to my favorite little orphan, God has continued to teach me a lot through his existence. He has served as a constant reminder of the work that God did in my life last summer, which has fueled fundraisers and prayer and even an internship. i have prayed for a year that i would be able to see Kevin again. i have longed for the opportunity to hug his little body and i have cried over how incredible it would be to get to see how he’s grown.
i have this problem where i often don’t allow myself to pursue the things i want because i live in fear of disappointment. i spent a lot of time wishing i could see Kevin but it took me a year and an optimistic friend saying, “GO!” for me to realize that i had the choice to go back to Puerto Barrios.
So, i invited a few friends and i bought a plane ticket and two weeks ago i got to see Kevin again. Love does.
i didn’t think that he would remember me. Kevin is so young and we didn’t spend that much time together and of course, “i’m not that special” (i put that in quotes because it’s a lie that cycles through my brain), so why would he remember me? The first afternoon we were in town, we went to the orphanage. i walked in with a full heart and wide smile because our God is so good and faithful and He loves us so well. i did not know what it would be like to reunite with Kevin, but i knew that it was going to happen because God loves me. He knows the desires of our hearts. He is faithful.
Kevin got back to the orphanage from school a few hours after we had been there. When he got out of the car, i was there waiting. i searched for him among the handful of other kids returning from school and i found him a few seconds before he found me. i was taken aback by his new haircut and impressive height, but it was still the face of my favorite Guatemalan. It was Kevin and he was standing in front of me. It was not a dream. His eyes quickly found mine and i had the gift of watching his tiny face light up as he realized who i was. He remembered me because, despite what i had convinced myself of, i am worth remembering.
After a few moments of us staring at each other with wide smiles, Kevin quickly walked towards me and my friend took pictures and we hugged and it was perfect. Within seconds, he was on my back and we were laughing. He, for the first time since i met him, was calm enough to answer questions, so i taught him my named and asked him about his five-year-old life. My friends had the opportunity to meet the boy who fueled our trip to Guatemala and i had the moment i had been dreaming of for a year.
Just as i did last summer, i walked away from Kevin more confident in who i am than i was when i arrived at the orphanage. i became beautifully aware of how much my Father loves me. i learned that i am worthy of good gifts, especially when that gift comes in the form of a hug from an orphan.
i said goodbye to Kevin again a few days later. That afternoon he had eaten about ten cookies and a few caramels and some popcorn. The last words he said to me before i left are "My stomach hurts." and "I want more cookies." That proves a lot about little boys and how globally important cookies are. My goodbye to Kevin was different this time, because i am not worried about him like i was last year. i know that the same God that carried me back to him is the One who is watching over his present and his future.
i am constantly having to remind myself that Kevin is not defined by the fact that he is an orphan. Knowing and loving that little Guatemala has taught me a lot about what God has rescued us out of by making us a part of His family, and i am so thankful for that. i am praying that one day Kevin will get to tangibly understand what it means not to be an orphan anymore. i want him to have a last name and a room to himself and so much more, because he deserves it. He is a punk, but i love him because God loves all of the punks in the whole world. God does not look at Kevin or any other child in an orphanage and call them an orphan, He looks at them just as He looks at you and me, and He calls them "Beloved" and "Chosen" and "Mine." His love defies the titles that the world gives us, because His love is audacious and loud and more powerful than death.
i hope that i get to see Kevin again one day, but it will be okay if i don't. i would love to return to that orphanage to learn that he has been gifted with a life beyond its gates. The Father has abundantly blessed me with the opportunity to know His son Kevin. It is humbling to learn such huge lessons through a five year old, especially one that first showed you he loves you by ripping your hair out of a braid.
God loves me more than i love Kevin. God is a million times more excited to meet with me than was to reunite with Kevin. God delights in my smile more than i delighted to see Kevin smile at me again. God loves my laugh more than i love Kevin's. God's love is ridiculous and i want to spend my life living in a way that reflects that. i am worthy of a life that embraces my Father's ridiculous love because He says i am. It's as simple as that.