I think I've seen thousands of photos of orphans. I get them all the time in the mail, via email, from friends, in magazines, from our former adoption agency coordinator, etc. Every photo, every story touches my heart in some way and on some level. But then there are a few who just pull at me so intensely that they make it to "the mirror." Our master bathroom has a long wall-to-wall mirror, and on the left side, there is a spot where a handful of photos have been hung from time to time over the years. Sandija's photo made it to the mirror several weeks before we stepped forward to host her.
One day, early in the morning when our bedroom was still dark, I slipped quietly into the bathroom. Trying not to wake my husband with the bright bathroom lights, I closed the bathroom door before turning on the lights. I was standing in the dark bathroom, facing the mirror when the lights came on.
And this is what I saw...
The first time this happened, it was the most odd experience to turn the light on and see someone else's face instead of my own. The brain can sort through things very quickly, running through a series of guesses and ideas, filtering through the crazy speculations and narrowing quickly down to a rational explanation...all within fractions of seconds. After realizing what I was seeing, "Whoa...that was weird" was about all I could come up with.
This same thing happened a second and third time on different days. By then, I realized that this might be one of those times when God was trying to show me something. I felt like Samuel who had heard God's voice but had mistaken it for someone else. I stopped and asked, "Are you trying to tell me something, Lord?"
Then it seemed so obvious. I was seeing myself in Sandija's place. When this realization hit me, I stopped...I literally stopped and stared long and hard at my "reflection" in the mirror. How would I feel if I were Sandija? What would I need to feel loved? The insight was incredible...and so close to home, as my personal reflection was infiltrated by someone outside of me. As I stared at the mirror, I closed my eyes and tried to slide into her shoes...the brokenness, the rejection, the grasping for hope. This new revelation grabbed me...hard.
I was looking into her eyes in the mirror, and it was as if it were me.
"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." Hebrews 13:3
So, this is how it's supposed to be... I am called/commanded/supposed to think of those in prison as though I am in prison with them. I'm called to remember those who are mistreated since I'm also in the body...and therefore it IS as if it were me being mistreated, as if it were me in prison. And that is an ugly place to go, even mentally. We, as humans, tend to avoid the hard places. We run from discomfort, and we want to numb any pain.
And, yes, even in loving orphans, we can very quickly focus on all the wonderful things we can do with or for these children that we can conveniently overlook the reality of the life they are living. We can candy-coat it for our own conscience sake. But sometimes we have to climb down into the messy place where someone else is...to be willing to acknowledge the hurt and share the tears and pray fervently as we make steps upward together with them.
I simply have to do what God's Word says. I have to remember Sandija as though I were locked up with her...and love her as I love myself."