My schoolgirl had an unsettling moment this weekend.
While mingling with friends after our Sunday church service, Maya's friend interrupted my conversation with the report that they'd been playing, but he suddenly couldn't find her anywhere. Not a bit concerned at first, I gave the sanctuary a quick scan, my eyes not detecting the familiar sight of the bouncing hair and pink-striped shirt I'd tracked moments before. Assisted by my sister-in-law, I began to scout around. She headed for the nursery, I checked the stage. No luck. She searched the Sunday School rooms downstairs while I walked through the main women's restroom, my heart beginning to beat more anxiously. Meeting up back in the lobby, both of us empty-handed, we were just beginning to ask the other adults in the vicinity to aid in the search, when my eyes fell on the doorknob of the small lobby bathroom. It jiggled back and forth, panic obviously on the other side. Running over, I pressed my ear to the door and heard faint crying.
"Mommy! Mommy, I'm stuck!"
Relief flooding over me, I called encouragement to her through the door, giving instructions on how to open the lock. In almost no time at all, the door was open, and she collapsed into my arms, cheeks streaked with tears.
Throughout the next several minutes, I attempted to calm her down as we sat together on the floor. I stroked her hair and whispered, "It's ok, it's ok." I told her that the lock on that door was tricky, and assured her that I would work with her to figure it out. I spoke about how, had she been unable to open the lock, we could have removed the door to get her out. Still, she wept and trembled. And then, finally...
"Mommy...I was afraid that maybe you would never find me."
And there it was. The fear underneath the tears. Finally understanding, I looked into her eyes and spoke the words her heart needed to hear. "I would never leave without finding you, Maya. Never. I would just never stop looking."
Within seconds, smiles replaced tears.
In Tim Kimmel's book, Grace-Based Parenting, he cites three core needs that all children possess: a secure love, a significant purpose, and a strong hope. I witnessed all three of those needs manifested in Maya in the aftermath of her experience being trapped in the church bathroom. The very first thing she needed was the security of my embrace. The next was the assurance that so significant was she in our lives that we would never, ever give up on her.
And then, the third. As I tucked Maya in bed last night, she spoke again of the bathroom incident, however this time it was to recall something Mark told her after she relayed the story to him later at home. "I was worried I wouldn't be found, but Daddy told me that I'll always, always be found," she said, sighing contentedly.
Hope. A strong hope.
The hope of being found.
It's a hope, a need, that beats in my heart as well. The incomprehensible love of a Shepherd who guides my life and counts me as precious. The grace and forgiveness of a Father whose welcome never grows weary and whose promises stretch across eternity.
In a life wrought with circumstances that leave me rife with insecurity, heavy with insignificance, weary with hopelessness - the lock is loosed, the door is opened and I fall into the arms of a Savior who whispers the truth that I am found.
I will always, always be found.
Several times yesterday after our return home from church, Maya requested that I recount for her the tale of what happened when she was locked in the bathroom. No fear left in her voice, she eagerly asked again and again, "Mommy, tell me again about how you were looking for me everywhere. Tell me about how you found me." All smiles as she takes it in. What could have haunted her memory as a frightening experience instead has taken root in her heart as one that proved love, significance, and hope.
My challenge is to live the same story. To cultivate a joy that wells up in my heart as I sit in His presence, come before Him in prayer, ask Him to speak to me through His Word.
"Tell me again about how You found me."