she colored on a piece of ordinary construction paper. a blue squiggly line. that was it. just a blue squiggle. but she stopped and looked up at me. i was busy doing something busy moms do. sorting . arranging. wiping. honestly, as i write this, i can't even remember. but i nodded at her and said, "yes, bella-boo...that's good." then she added another little squiggle. well not even a full squiggle, just barely a squig. she stopped. her crayon poised midair. she looked up at me again with a small grunt and pointed to her drawing. "oh honey, yes...that is so nice...so pretty. good girl." another squiggle. another look. another pat of affirmation.
but it wasn't enough. she quietly put down her blue crayon and reached across the island countertop grabbing my busy hands. in her own tiny hands she held mine and began to put them together. together. apart. together. apart. yes, she was making me clap. i couldn't believe it. my little bella was making me clap my hands for her picture. for her. apparently my affirming words were not enough. she wanted applause. she wanted a standing ovation. she requested a grand celebration. a parade of pomp and circumstance. she wanted my full blown, foot stomping, whistle blowing, thigh slapping applause for her blue squiggles.
isn't that what we all want sometimes? isn't that what we sometimes require? just a little applause?
i feel some days like i've known bella forever. the truth is though we have only been home a mere 3 months. that is practically nothing. but it is everything. bella already has her handprints all over our home...all over our hearts. this little girl lived two years in an orphanage of 3000. and after just 3 months in a family of seven she rules with ease...she beckons with confidence...she directs with determination. it seems impossible knowing her first two years were spent abandoned and orphaned. this seems hardly recognizable.
a month or so ago, i had a conversation with a woman at my daughter's volleyball game. she had been watching bella and me play below the bleachers. we started chatting and she began asking me questions about bella. she was blown away when i told her we had only just brought her home from china this summer. her response was, "she's so comfortable with you. it looks like she's been yours forever." of course her observation made me glow. positively beam.
the truth is it does feel like that most days. but then i see these orphan moments. these little glimpses of how much she needs my praise, my affirmation, my affection. like with the blue squiggles. i stumble across one of these encounters with bella and i just want to weep. i see the neediness in her dark eyes. i can see her longing for my attention. i don't want to read too much into all of this, but i can't help wonder about what is going through bella's mind. does she know she's here for good? does she understand we love her... unconditionally? no matter what. does she understand she is ours and we are hers... forever? i worry about that sometimes. when i have to leave her with a sitter or in the church nursery or in her bed...does she ever question my return. does she ever question my love. my applause.
just a couple of weeks ago we heard a sermon at church. it was about how much we choose to live as orphans. how we just can't seem to grasp the deep love of our God. so often we live our lives as if something is missing....and we are just waiting. i don't care who we are or how together we look...we were born with this great void. this great hole. and we spend our lives trying to fill it. we will fill it busy-ness, homes, cars, prestige, fame, money, children...heck, we will fill it with shoes and exercise and even banana bread. it is a huge hole. a gaping, enormous crater in the center of our souls and we are born with the innate desire to fill it up. kind of like dogs burying a bone. why do they do that? they just do. it is how they are created. to bury. we are created to fill. when that hole feels empty we run around doing what we do quickly trying to stuff it full of ...well, stuff. we scramble for old things and new things and bad things and even really good things. and we cram it all down into this hole and then we sit back and we wait for that sense of wonderFULL. that sense of plentiFULL. and it comes. oh, how it comes...and it can be downright beautiFULL. but then the moment changes and it is gone. quickly. wiped out. and we are empty again. and we realize none of it was enough. none of it was sufficient. and we begin our cycle again of searching and filling and cramming and stuffing.
but just like bella with her blue squiggles we are looking up. we are looking up and waiting for applause. we so often are waiting to feel like we are FULL. like we are complete. like we are daughters and sons of the King. we forget how little this has to do with us...with our insufficient attempts. we think there is something magical and mystical...and so we search and we pick things up and we look them over carefully and we wonder ....will this be The Thing?
and so bella took my hands. she clapped them together. when i realized what was actually taking place i stopped and switched around our hands. my hands now held hers. mine were on the outside and hers the inside. and i looked at her and at her beautiful blue squiggles and i began to clap for her. and cheer for her. and tell her how proud i was of her simple picture. and immediately i saw contentment creep across her face. her mom was proud of her and her mom was in control. and it was enough. not because she filled her picture with beautiful blue squiggles...but because she removed her orphan outfit and she saw herself as my daughter. she is not orphaned. she belongs. she is filled not because of anything she does or deserves, but because she is mine. ours. His.
how much more so with my heavenly Father. there is nothing i can do to deserve His love...there is no blue squiggle perfect enough...but He loves me anyway. He loves me despite what i do or don't do or can't do. i am no longer orphaned. i am His daughter. and it is enough.