“Here I am, right where I left myself. I wasn’t lost. I’ve been here all along.” - Me
Today’s sermon at church left me thinking about the idea of being lost (thank you Brandon). I’ve been lost before. Have you? I was lost in New York City on my high school senior trip. The gymnast in me stopped to check out a poster of Mary Lou Retton and when I turned around the group was nowhere in sight. What did I do? What most of us do when we feel lost – I tried not to panic. I looked around, walked up and down the street, then went to a pay phone (this was long before cell phones were popular) and called home to ask what to do. I was given the usual advice, “Stay right where you are. They’ll come back looking for you”. So, I went back to that sporting goods store and stood out front. Sure enough one of the chaperone’s showed up shortly thereafter – practically in tears and looking more panicked than I was at that point. I had found my calm again knowing that they’d come back for me. After all, I wasn’t the one who was lost – my group was. I knew right where I was in that moment.
The sense of being lost really is a matter of perspective. When we don’t know where we are in any given moment of time or where we are going we tend to feel lost. Most of us don’t like this feeling. Some though may enjoy feeling a little out of sorts, maybe even like the challenge of finding their way again, or are more comfortable with the unknown.
When we do feel lost though, it’s usually because we are looking for something, someone or somewhere outside of ourselves. We feel lost when we can’t find that “thing” we are looking for. I lose my keys all the time. Are my keys what are lost? No, they are exactly where I put them. I’m the one who is lost, because I can’t find my keys.
After my divorce, I felt lost. I was in a new home. I was on my own. I was responsible for two children. I didn’t know how to do this thing called “divorced.” I didn’t know this new place I was in as a “divorcee.” I was in unchartered territory. A photographer friend of mine looked at a photo of me and told me that I looked lost. Ugh, I hate that I’m so transparent! So what did I do? I started looking for myself in all kinds of places. I seemed to think I’d find myself if I could find love again. So, I started looking for it. Where? I’m embarrassed to admit it but well, here goes… internet dating sites. (Okay, I really hope that was too small for you to read! )
I found love once or twice along the way, or so I thought. Yet, I still didn’t find that sense of calm and peace that you feel when you have found your way again, when you know where you are and where you’re going. My dear friend Ranjit, suggested I was emotionally disturbed. Oh my God, I’m what? I’m a counselor, this isn’t good. I can’t be emotionally disturbed. I had to laugh at the thought of this. So, I asked Ranjit what he meant exactly. His reply, “You are looking for love outside of yourself.” I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I realized then that I had to get comfortable in this place I was now in and know it well in order to not feel lost anymore. I had to learn “to be” right where I was and to love this place. I wasn’t used to just “being.” I was a mover and a shaker. I was on the run all the time. At work , I am known to power walk the halls. Everyone knows it’s me when I’m coming by the drumming of my feet. I run. It’s what I do. I love running. I am constantly on the go. I’m always going somewhere or doing something.
And thus my problem! I’m a human-being. Yet, somehow I had become a human-doing. Perhaps it was the achievement addiction (more on that another time), the perfectionist in me that felt the need to always be ahead of myself, or…..well, whatever it was, it was time to un-do it. So, I learned to just "be." How? Prayer and meditation.
Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening. I was used to the prayer part, but I was new to meditation. Had I ever really listened for God? No, not really. I was too busy talking, asking for this or that but not listening for that still small voice inside of me (for which I believe there are many names, but I consider it to be God’s “Holy Spirit”). After meditating daily for a few weeks, I began to experience this profound sense of peace. This peace permeated my day. I felt like everything was brighter, colors more vivid, my daughters’ laughter more delightful. I began to find humor in unusual places, to laugh at myself and laugh outloud. I felt “in love.” Yet, there was no one I was in love with (at the time). Rather, it was God's love I was experiencing. I was feeling His love for me. This enabled me to love myself again and this very place I was in. I had done it! I had learned to “just be.” In doing so, I realized I was never lost. I was here all along. I just stopped running from myself and from God and stayed right where I was so He could catch up with me.