Monday, November 4, 2013

His Picture, My Portrait

First it was the Autumnal Equinox and now this--National Self-Portrait Day! I keep painting on the appropriate holidays without even trying. I must have some sort of internal clock that knows. (It doesn't help me be punctual, though.)

Breathe On Me, 5x7 watercolor on aquaboard, with the help of some masking fluid

I was up late Friday and painted this small piece. I was grappling with something, and needed an online sermon and some paints to quiet myself enough to hear the Holy Spirit showing me what it was. It was that picture. 

On Wednesday I blogged about some difficult feelings I had about wanting to "drive" this adoption process. I also mentioned how the picture I had of our soon-to-be son was dated. I longed for a new picture. On Thursday one popped into my inbox!

This was only the second time I've received a picture and update, the only time aside from when we were matched. So it was totally unexpected. 

I was thrilled to get that picture! But I wasn't very happy about what I saw. 



I saw an orphan. He was wearing quirky, mismatched, cheap Chinese clothes, totally expected. He had a bad, short haircut, for the sake of less maintenance I'm sure. He was holding a piece of candy, no doubt a kind we Americans wouldn't like. He was standing alone, I suppose for the sake of the picture. He had a bloody scratch on his nose and mouth, a little concerning but we can trust it was just a toddler ouchie. 

All of those details were so very orphan-like. None of those concerned me much. 

What haunted me was his stare. He was perhaps uncomfortable or confused, "why did they push me to the wall all by myself?" he might have wondered. And yet he didn't fully show it. He was showing the blank stare you see in so many orphan's eyes. It's the blank stare of resignation. Just do what you're told, don't cry or fight or ask, just go with the motions. It comes from days, months, years of suppressed emotions and unanswered cries. I fear he's learned to not cling, to not trust. After spending his first twenty months of life in an orphanage, I may as well bet on it. 

When he finally comes home, it will be our priority to teach him to do those things: to cry when he feels want knowing someone will come help, to hug and cuddle and hold, to smile... to attach. To us. 

That's why I'm not working a stable job. I want to be able to give him ample time and attention. I want to hold him and touch his cheeks and tickle him. I want to teach him so much about God, our family, our routine, colors and numbers. I want time to catch up on so much that we've missed.

And so, as I came to terms that night with my lack of trust in how God is taking care of him, I did the same thing as the last time I couldn't wrap my mind around children lacking love. I listened to a sermon. I painted. I listened to Page CXVI's Lullabies. This time instead of Jesus Loves Me on repeat, I put Breathe On Me, Breath of Life on repeat. I needed (and still do) God's breath to heal my hurt and to transform my heart. It so resonated with me that night!

And I painted this self-portrait. On National Self-Portrait Day.

There's no explaining God's impact on a heart--burning or refreshing--but that's what art is for: to give shape to great complexities in its own language. What a gift to paint great concepts with such simple tools!

I am praying for God's presence in his life, a fatherly presence. I am trusting that my baby on the other side of the world is being well taken care of by his Heavenly Father. 

To take from that song: Lord, "breathe on me and on my son... breath of life... until our hearts are yours, are yours." (Hear the song here.)

PS- I'm writing this post on another important day: Orphan Sunday

Read more specifics about our boy on our adoption fund page.