...and to my credit this is the first time this has happened in my 16+ years of fatherhood. I think that's a formidable record. Now, my sixteen year old will try and tell you that I did this to her when she was little but the reality is, I was watching her the whole time and after numerous attempts to tell her to stay by my side, she strayed, and so I taught her a lesson by allowing her to feel like she was lost for a minute.
Today however, I honestly lost my eight year old daughter. I thought she was behind me and when I looked back she was gone. Granted, she was not paying attention to where she was going either but, I was not watching her. After realizing that she didn't merely stop to look at something and that she was really lost, the panic ensued. I sent my sixteen year old with her cell phone in one direction and my twelve year old daughter and I went in another direction.
I was angry.
With every passing minute my blood boiled with fury. I noticed a sales associate staring at me. It must have been noticeable by now that I was frantically looking for my lost child.
I was mortified.
Totally embarrassed. Now that sales associate is talking to her colleague (do they even call each other that?) while pointing at me! Yet, she doesn't ask if she can help. More great customer service, but that's for another post. My countenance morphs from anger, to embarrassment, to...
I just want my baby back...now. I want to see her, to see with my own eyes that she is ok. Rampant thoughts, thoughts that I can't share here are racing through my throbbing mind. Why won't she just appear around the next corner? I get a glimpse of my oldest daughter from across the store and there she is, my little one, safe and sound.
I refrain from rushing toward her (one of the hardest things I've ever had to do) and instead walk towards the exit wanting desperately for her to learn to be more careful, knowing full well that this is my fault but if this can keep her safe in the future than it's worth it. By the time we get close to the car I turn around and make eye contact with her. Then she breaks down and falls into my arms. I assure her that all is well. And we leave for home.
Why am I sharing this? Guilty conscious? Therapy? Not exactly. Let me back up a bit. While I was in the midst of my frantic search in the mall, as my anger turned to desperation, my thoughts turned to God. No, not as a prayer, oddly enough, but rather, my thoughts turned to the mind of God. Damn these theology courses!
I thought to myself, is this what God goes through with his children?
When God's children get lost, does God's countenance go through similar transformations? Am I comparing myself to God here? No, but my role as father is the closest thing I will ever get, here on earth. When we get lost, stray from following God's path, does God begin with anger, and maybe a whole host of other emotions before God turns to a desperate yearning to have his child back?
I believe the answer is yes. If a broken father like myself can yearn so deeply for a reunion with his child, how much more, and to what greater lengths will God go, for a reunion with his children, for a reunion with me?