Last Christmas our family experienced the power of God when we left our comfort zone to show Christ’s love to an orphan. We didn’t intend to leave our comfort zone. It was uncomfortable, yes. But it wasn’t an intentional move to get uncomfortable. God met us in our discomfort and revealed Himself in ways we never imagined.
An 11-year old orphan entered our lives for 4 weeks last year and my heart will never be the same.
This was my post from December 29, 2012 – Day 13 with Viktors.
(autostereogram image by John Hsu)
According to Wikipedia “An autostereogram is a single-image stereogram (SIS), designed to create the visual illusion of a three-dimensional (3D) scene within the human brain from an external two-dimensional image. In order to perceive 3D shapes in these autostereograms, one must overcome the normally automatic coordination between accommodation (focus) and vergence (angle of ones eyes)….. A hidden 3D scene emerges when the image is viewed with the correct vergence.”
Some of our days look like one of these images. When viewed from afar, it appears to be a picture consisting of a bunch of tiny dots, a big mess of something that you can’t quite figure out. Chaos.
There is something captivating about an autostereogram. You know that within the picture, another picture is hidden. It is so hidden that when viewing it without really looking, you will overlook the bigger picture completely. However, when you pause, when you focus, when you concentrate, you see it. You see it so very clearly. In fact, it will jump right out at you, and you will wonder how you didn’t see it immediately to begin with.
In order to see the beauty of the moments we are sharing with Viktors, we must overcome the “normally automatic coordination” between our focus. We must shift our focus.
You cannot watch our moments and use the focus you are used to using. If you do, you will miss the beauty of the moment. The beauty of this picture.
If you adjust your focus and change your angle, you will see the beauty that is emerging. It’s a beauty that can easily be overlooked.
I’ll admit we had some extremely rough days. Days where Steve and I lost our focus. We were staring at the 2 dimensional image using the wrong focus and nothing but a jumble of mess was jumping out at us. For the sake of Viktors’ privacy I won’t divulge the details, but they were mild compared to what they could be. Honestly, they were mild considering this boy is an orphan living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. His bad moments could be drastically worse. But this is a child who is waiting to emerge. The beauty in him is so close to the surface and each day we see a little bit more of what’s inside him ready to come out.
This child at his core is a good, good child. He is a good boy. He is honest, so very honest. Even when I give him things that are mine, he won’t take them. When he saw me chewing gum at the skating rink, he asked me to spit it out when he saw the sign that read “No chewing gum.”
My 3D moment for the day came twice today when I saw the image within the image emerge.
I imagine in a orphanage there is very little alone play where a child just uses his imagination and directs play for himself. I imagine they have freedom within their rigorous schedule, but likely spend it playing with other kids. Viktors always wants someone to play with him. We entertain him a lot, the boys keep him busy or we go on outings.
He and I had a moment of correction where I had to explain why what he was doing was wrong behavior. Honestly, it wasn’t anything bad, it is just he has never been corrected in this area. When he feels he has done something wrong, he typically retreats to a hiding place. A place he can feel safe in what he feels is an unsafe world. When I correct him, he casts his eyes down immediately, withdraws into himself slightly, and seems to try to shut me out either by covering his ears or by pretending not to listen.
“Viktors,” I softly spoke as I gently lifted his chin. ”Please look in my eyes. I need you to see my face so you can understand my words.” I needed him to see the softness of my eyes in case he couldn’t understand the words I spoke to him.
His eyes darted up and down. They would meet mine, then meet the floor, back and forth again and again. ”Please, keep looking at my eyes. I am not mad at you. Look at my face. I’m not this,” I said showing him an angry face with arms crossed. I smiled and continued, “I corrected you because I love you. If I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t correct you.” He just shook his head. I don’t know if he shook his head because he didn’t understand or he didn’t believe. Either way, I hugged him and said I loved him and walked away.
For the first time, he went to our toy closet and got out cars and sat and played by himself for 30 minutes. I have tried to get him to sit and play by himself for 2 weeks. He finally did it! I loved listening to him in there using his imagination with those cars. Even though I knew he was upset, I was overjoyed that he was playing in an unstructured environment without us directing the play! For me it was a 3D moment!
Then a few minutes later he joined me at the table. He was back. His pouting has now almost disappeared. It surfaces periodically, but it is so incredibly short-lived compared to only 2 short weeks ago. This boy has made amazing progress in 13 days.
Our 2nd 3D moment of the day came when he asked for something he knew would be an automatic “No”. He asks anyway, he asks for things all the time. But even that is lessening. When I said no to him, he started to begin begging, which has been typical. He will say, “Please, please, please” over and over again. I spoke with him about this and asked him to stop begging that when I said no, I meant no, and I expect him to stop asking at that point. When I gave him the “no” he said, “Pl…” and he stopped himself! He stopped himself. Let me repeat…he stopped himself. And he gave me that sly 1/2 smile and walked out of room saying, “Ok.”
That was a 3D moment in my book. Self control. He’s getting it.
To do this orphan hosting thing, our focus has to be completely unconventional. Every single second we have to pray that God gives us compassion, grace, and mercy. And He does.
We are entering week 3. The week that according to training is to be our best week yet. The week that the testing has ended and our bonds are there. Trust has been earned and love is evident. So far Viktors has behaved exactly like they said he would in training. And he is responding even better than I hoped.
“A hidden 3D scene emerges when the image is viewed with the correct vergence.” Vergence…the angle of one’s eyes. A hidden child emerges when we view him with the correct vergence, the correct angle of our eyes. An angle that comes from compassion, patience, understanding, and love.
[box] Our experience with Viktors changed our lives in ways we didn’t expect. I’m committed to supporting New Horizons for Children, an orphan hosting program, with the sale of Seeking Christmas. If you would like to read about our time with Viktors, please begin here. This story isn’t over. God has brought forth a family pursuing the adoption of both Viktors and his brother. We witnessed an eternal impact through discomfort and for that I’m eternally grateful[/box]
[box] This is Day 24 in a series, 31 Days to Get Uncomfortable With God. Please click here for a listing of all posts in this series. If you would like posts delivered to your inbox, please click here.[/box]