One week ago our son disappeared in the city of St. Louis.
He was on his way to a friend’s house and didn’t arrive.
Fear filled my heart and mind. Where could he be in such a big city? Where could he be in such a big world? Would we find him, and if we did, what would we find?
I prayed, breathed, answered calls and texts – all the while trying to think clearly enough to pack and stay calm enough to say goodbye to my younger kids without alerting them to the crisis.
Monday morning at 3:15 I woke to my alarm and checked my phone. No words of assurance and relief were found. An hour later I was at the airport.
As we started down the runway I put my phone in airplane mode, praying that when I landed in Seattle there would be a text saying he was found.
We landed and I quickly turned off airplane mode. Nothing.
On my second flight, I put my phone in airplane mode telling myself there would be news when I landed. I avoided talking to anyone in order to keep from crying.
We landed – still nothing. In that huge Dallas airport, I began to cry. I had no plan except to arrive and be picked up by kind, generous, new-to-me friends who opened their home.
Isaiah has given his heart and energy to the Ferguson Resistance and the racial liberation movement, and I came to learn that they are family to one another. Family enough to let him live with them, family enough to take me in, family enough to drive me all over St. Louis.
When I landed for the final time, he had been missing more than 24 hours. A friend in the Movement asked my permission to create a missing persons “poster” for Facebook and I agreed. When I clicked “post” and shared it, I knew I was opening my heart and our family to the world. This story was no longer unfolding in privacy but on Facebook where many of you saw it.
The post was shared thousands of times and met with words of love and concern.
The next morning we got a call telling us he was found and in the hospital. Gratitude and relief flooded me. When I saw him, I hugged him tight, kissed his cheeks, and cried.
One week later, I’m still in STL with Isaiah.
I can only share my story, not Isaiah’s, so I won’t go into detail now, but he is doing much better and I’m holding on to hope.
Fear is quite possibly the greatest enemy of parenting. Looking too far into the future only makes my mind a swirling mess.
Being the mother of young adults is a delicate balancing act. We love them fiercely yet have to hold them with open hands.
I pray the Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” I ask God to help me walk in faith, to show me a clear path, to be ruled by his peace and not my fear.
This I know – there is no fear in love, perfect love (God’s love), casts out fear – fear of condemnation, fear of the future, fear of doing it all wrong, fear of being exposed to scrutiny, fear of falling too far into a lonely place.
Shame wants me to be silent. Wanting to present ourselves as a family that has it all together – or maybe a little bit together is so tempting. But moments ago I read my own words, When Shame Holds Us Back, and I cried because although I wrote them, they spoke truth to me.
Sometimes I really hate that.
When we suffer, our compassion grows. Our ability to step into someone else’s story and feel their sorrow, regret, anger, fear, becomes possible because we know what it is to feel sorrow, regret, anger and fear.
My family is not perfect. We are messy and broken, but we press on loving each other fiercely.
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect parents. He only asks that we do our best to love him with all our heart, soul, and strength, and love our neighbor (our children) as ourselves. That is a big enough task for all of us.
I will take today one moment at a time, not being able to plan or control, asking God for wisdom and peace. I yearn to be home and hope it won’t be long before I can be in Russ’ arms and hug my youngest kids close.
My hopes and plans may also be God’s hopes and plans – and if not, I will still trust him for Isaiah’s future and for our family.
With courage and hope for the journey – and much love,