Friday, February 24, 2012

One of my worst nightmares happened...

I had an experience on Wednesday…no...not an experience...one of my worst nightmares happened is more accurate...and it really made me think…

I was in a public place (theme park). There were 10 of us in our group. We got distracted by some rain. We were in a small area but we kept sorta' moving from here to there in that area as we planned what to do with our time. We started off in one direction, hesitated, backed up, stood still, thought…

I did something around 5:20 I'd done continually throughout the day: I scanned our group and took note of everyone. Someone was missing. My 3-yr old was not viewable. That happened often thru the day with different people and I'd scan the crowd a few seconds more till I finally saw the person who was "missing".

This time…I was scanning for small blue pants with white dots on them. The younger kids were playing by a large green trash can that we were standing near and I thought she had to be behind it. I repositioned myself and she…was not there. I looked to the left. To the right. I couldn't see her. But, this had sorta' happened before where it took me a few seconds to "Find Waldo" in the crowd so I was telling myself that she was there I just wasn't seeing her. But, too many seconds were passing and I could not "find Waldo"... 

"Why can't I see Tori?" I asked. At first I was expecting someone to say, "Gosh. She's right there..." And, I'd be like, "Yeah, old age..."

The other grown-ups paused a little and looked around.

I kept looking and...was not...seeing her. And, no one was telling me I was being blonde and she was "right there" so I asked again in a more panicked tone, "Why can't I see Tori?"

Now, everyone's focus is on "where is Tori?" I'm thinking someone has to be able to see her and it's "just me" being "me" and I'm the only one. But…no one sees her. For real...no one sees her! 

I watch a lot of crime shows. If I can "learn" from a TV program about the human psyche I watch it. And, so, when my mind accepted that she was "missing"...my whole physiology changed as my brain doused me with fear chemicals. My 3-year old was gone. My 3-year old had been allowed to be separated from me by my own careless eyes that didn't watch her well enough. And, my overactive mind knew that there was a possibility that some sick serial killer-type had snagged her and was now heading to the parking lot with her will really bad plans...

I knew "this" feeling well. In 1998 I got a call that my husband had been in a car accident and had been taken to the local trauma center. That feeling of, "Oh, God...this only happens to other people but it's happening to me right now..." Other people's kids get taken. But, now...it was me. My kid was gone. It had happened to me. 

It's strange that people love horror movies so...when true horror is not fun at all... 

I ran to the nearest park employee at a concessions stand and told them, "My kid is lost. Can you call someone!" 

Right away the person phoned security and soon a security person was there with us asking us what she looked like and said, "We've never not found a lost kid here. This is the best place to be a lost kid. Don't worry."

That offered me no consolation. There are exceptions to everything.

I didn't know what exactly to do…part of me wanted to run to the front gate to intervene if someone was to be trying to get out of the park with her and yet, I didn't want to leave the area where I'd last seen her. Plus, I still had my 6 and 8 year olds with me and I had to still "watch them". 

My 14 and 24 year old daughters were frantically walking around everywhere calling her. I was calling her as loudly as I could about every 10 seconds. People were watching me, I could see in my peripheral vision that I had become "a spectacle", but I didn't care. I walked and called her thinking that if she had simply wandered off if I just got close enough to her and she heard my voice she'd come…

Some people came and offered to help…I heard them and responded almost like a robot, "Blue pants, white spots, 3-years old"...I of all people would you believe...when I'm under stress lose my ability to speak! 

I can't really describe how I felt because having lost all use of most of my brain at that time I'm sure I've forgotten most of it. I wish I could see it on video to see how long it happened and what I did. But, I remember after a while…feeling utterly hopeless and like what I was doing to find her was useless (which it actually was) and she was just…gone…

My 8-year old was following me around calling her, too…when someone called out to me that she'd been found…and I had to go to the place where they take the lost kids…

Go? 

I ran…

It was raining. My backpack was just flopping all over the place and I was afraid I'd slip in a puddle but I ran…almost not believing that I'd actually find her there that it had to be a dream...but as I approached the door of the place where she was supposed to be…it was glass…so I could see her standing there with some older lady…her head was down (which said she was scared)…and I started to bawl. Like, that kind of hyperventilating type of bawling. 

I entered the place and knelt down and just held her and cried. "Oh my God, Tori! I couldn't find you! I was so scared! I'm so sorry you were lost! I'm so sorry you were scared!" 

I don't even know if I spoke words…or what I said…but I know that's how I felt. 

The lady said that she wouldn't talk to them (that's what she does when scared I guess just like her mom) and that she had nothing on her (ID). UGH!!! Normally, I write on my kids (so they can't lose it!)…on some body part like a leg (under a skirt or dress) my name and cell #…but this time…I'd forgotten…

Oh God…

But, she was safe…I had her back…

Of course, after I had a chance to calm down...it got me thinking…specifically about 2 things…

The Bible says that everything about God is knowable thru the things He's made. Creation. I am part of that Creation. My hormones and response system to my own children are part of God's creation…

The Bible talks about being on the "right path"…"all My sheep have gone astray, each has turned to his own way in Isaiah 54"…and without all the quoting of verses...simply...we Christians are just all familiar with that terminology. A person who is right with God is "on a right path" or "walking" right. Right? A person who is NOT on a right path with God…has turned willingly onto a wrong path…and has become what? Lost. People who are "wrong" with God are…lost.

As the song says, "I once was lost...but now I am found...was blind but now I see..." (Amazing Grace)

Well…

There is that school of thinking that will try to tell you, "Turn! Or Burn!" Right?

That was me once, btw…

They'll tell you that God will just burn you up in a fiery pit of hell forever for getting…lost. Right?

Sometimes "getting lost" spiritually is described as a willful turning or a willful life of not following Jesus (which would be more like if Tori had willfully walked away and then gotten lost).

Sometimes "getting lost" spiritually is about being sort of accosted or kidnapped…or just tricked/deceived into following someone with ill intent (like if Tori had been tricked by her eyes to think that our group was going a certain direction and had started to follow someone who wasn't us...or if she'd just not paid attention and our group moved away from her...or...if someone had said, "here little girl want some candy"...). 

Right?

So…Tori was either "irresponsible" and wandered…or didn't follow us…OR…someone had taken her when I wasn't looking…

Either way...she was lost!

SO…

We think it's OK to think that God wants to sit on His throne, point an angry finger and then torture forever…those who wander, follow the wrong person, or are led astray. We think that's Biblical. We think that's why we "evangelize" 'cause God is out to smite all the lost.

Is that how God is?

According to Romans 1 the Creation is supposed to tell me how God is...and...

God is my Father. And, like that, I am Tori's mother. And, I am part of Creation. And, I know how I felt when this happened to my child. When everything shut down and I only felt the feelings that are built into me in that situation. I know how I felt... 

The LAST thing I felt I wanted to do to her…was punish her. It did not even cross my mind when it happened. The last thing I felt was any scolding thoughts toward her. I felt only…a desperation to get her back. A desperation that was so powerful...that had I not found her in a timely manner…I would not be sitting here typing. No. I'd be…somewhere…not…doing too well. I am convinced…that had she been "lost" permanently…I'd have died... 

God…is our Father. 
We…are His children.
We're lost.
He…isn't angry. He's desperately trying to "find us". 
And, He is our example of how to be a parent.
So...

When our kids wander from "the path" (be naughty) what are we to do about it? Punish them? Ground them? Shoot their computer?

No.

Love...covers a multitude of sins...not punishment...

When Tori spiritually or emotionally "wanders" from me...or "follows someone else" down a "wrong path"...the correct response is not to "harm" her or "cause her physical pain to understand what she's done wrong." The correct thing to do is built into us...the same thing that the father of the prodigal son did...run to his son. I ran to Tori. I embraced her. I rejoiced because she was found. 

There are ways to "seek out" and "run to" a naughty kid in situations throughout the day that can "save them" from their naughtiness. Hitting kids is never the way to get them back "on the right path" or inspire them to want to follow you.

That…was lesson #1...punishment is not God's way of parenting...

Lesson #2…was…about "God's Plan for your life"...

Christians…tend to…believe…things they don't believe...

Like…

Imagine…There are surely people out there…who would be inclined to believe…that this incident…was part of "God's plan" for us. Maybe I tend to be too "lax" with watching her…maybe she tends to be too "lax" in following me. Because I learned something from this, they believe, it means that the lesson was from God. All along it was just God teaching me something. So, God…orchestrated this…as part of His "perfect plan" to…teach me…to be more attentive to her so no one ever does take her.

Easy to believe stuff like that…when you are putting it into some obscure category where "His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are not our ways"…

Yeah…

BUT…we are made in His image…and Romans 1 says we can learn everything about Him from what He's made...

So…He's our Father…what if I…as Tori's mother…told you when she was lost that, "Well, she doesn't pay attention too well when we're in public. I always tell her to hold my hand or stay with the group so that she doesn't get lost! I let my 3-yr old get lost on purpose…I put her into this situation where she's utterly terrified right now for about 10 minutes so that that she would experience the fear of being lost…so she would learn…not do stray from my…loving side." (And, in this case I'd not be frantically seeking her out...I'd be casually waiting until "my timing" decided it was time to go retrieve her...no emotion...just "there now did you learn your lesson?")

Uh huh. Yeah. Right. Someone. Please. Call social services. Now. 

Right?

We attribute to God (in MANY areas not just this)…stuff that we would never accept as even slightly OK in a human. Stuff we'd immediately identify as "sin" in a human we believe somehow it's God being...high and lofty...and we deprive Him of His very essence: Love. God is love. And, to be the puppeteer mastermind behind everything as part of His "plan" to teach us things in which He must put us into situations of danger and fear makes Him very cold and very very twisted... 

No. God did not have some "perfect plan" for me and Tori at that moment to experience such fear and desperation. Fear...is of God? No. It's not of Him because God is love. Perfect love casts out fear. There is no fear in love. No fear.

Does God use these situations to teach us something? Of course! He's trying to use everything in Creation to teach us something. That's what Romans 1 means…

Did I learn something from this? Yes. Because…I do. I look at dandelions or leaves scattered across my driveway and learn something when I'm in the mood. I learn things because I'm open to learn them. Some people, unfortunately, only pay attention when something "slaps them in the face" (is traumatic) and then all of Christendom gets the simple-minded idea that God does or is the cause behind these atrocious things in order to get our attention. No. 

That was lesson #2…

I thought those were the only 2…but then something hit me…today…before I wrote…that no…there's more…

Lesson #3 is about something that I think we all have done...at some point...something normal in our culture in our "parenting"...

Tori…I have no idea how we got separated. I think back and there was a moment when we all "headed that way" and then stopped. Perhaps she continued? Perhaps she simply wandered from us when we were stationary. Perhaps…we wandered from her? It's hard to say. But, according to her no one "led her" away. Somehow she just suddenly realized that we…were gone and she couldn't find us and she was scared.

So…

How many people…drop their kids off in unfamiliar places like nursery at Church or "somewhere"…or at a new daycare…or…wherever…and then "sneak out" so their kid doesn't cry? What does that child experience? Do they have the same experience of suddenly realizing that the person they were with is gone? 

Do they…experience the same fear that Tori did? Is this why they freak out and cry? We tell the their mommy's coming back or whatever but...are they feeling the same feelings when that happens...that Tori did? 

And, what about kids who awaken in the middle of the night in the dark…and mom isn't there? They're all…alone. Do they cry at 3am to be…manipulative? Or…are they legitimately…afraid? 

I know I will never sneak out on my kids ever again...

That…was lesson #3…

Sometimes…I don't like school...



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