Yesterday, I took my son to the library in the midst of a day full of errands that didn’t get completed on Saturday. While his sisters and, eventually, Daddy napped in the car, we returned a stack of children’s books and made our way to the back of the library to replenish the load we had brought with us.
Caleb had said he would help me pick out some books, but once his eyes caught the empty computers, he zoomed to fill in one of the vacated seats. I hate those computers. Educational games or not, I wish they weren’t there, distracting kids from the purpose of the building. But, wanting to choose my battles wisely, I surrendered to this issue, and began a search on the computer catalog system behind where Caleb sat.
Knowing my past luck, I wrote down the titles and call numbers of about seven Valentine’s Day books that were supposedly located in this library, hoping to walk away with at least one. I stooped down next to Caleb and told him I was going over by the children’s books. He answered me with a non-answer, the zombie, tunnel-vision look that he gets once entranced in an Elmo game had taken hold.
I walked through the open area to the book aisles, directly across from where Caleb was sitting. I looked at my list and quickly alphabetized it in my head, hoping to make fast work of book selection. As I worked my way through Z and W, I realized right away that my luck had not improved, not finding either of the first two books. I popped up from where I was crouching to look at Caleb, still making words on the Elmo game.
I moved on to the next aisle. More scratching off books on the list. I had started to suspect that perhaps I am incompetent on computer searches, or maybe I didn’t know how to alphabetize author’s last names, but I decided, no–the library’s computers are never right. At the end of the aisle, I looked up again at Caleb and continued on with my search.
As I had walked through the aisles, I managed to snag a couple books that looked cute, even though they weren’t on my list. I decided if I didn’t find any of the Valentine’s Day books on my list, I didn’t want to leave the aisles empty-handed. So, as I popped up for the last time, my crouching and searching through books not revealing one of the titles on my list, my eyes immediately zeroed in on the computer table where Caleb was sitting. Except he wasn’t there.
My heart skipped a beat, and a slight panic set in, but I walked toward the computer desk. Surely he was nearby, perhaps in one of the juvenile fiction aisles next to him. As I neared the desk, I noticed him walking away from me slowly, toward the front of the library. And then he turned around, and I saw the tears streaming down his face.
“Caleb!” I called, moving to him. “I’m right here, sweetie. Did you think I left you?”
He nodded, crying. “I didn’t know where you were.”
“I was right over there, looking for books,” I said, pointing to the book aisles. “I would never leave you, sweetie.”
And with my arm around him, I reminded him of what to do if he ever gets lost. I told him to stay put and wait for Mommy or for one of the library workers to walk by. If he walks away, then Mommy won’t know where he is, either.
While we were talking, I felt horrible. I remember getting momentarily separated from my own mother in the grocery store or a department store–I was never lost, but I thought I was–and my heart filled with guilt at causing my own little boy to feel helpless.
I should’ve made him walk the aisles with me. No more playing the computers unless I’m standing right behind him! I was only a few feet away, and I kept checking on him–he wasn’t even lost. But what if he kept walking, and I didn’t see him? What if the wrong person tried to help him?
As I have a tendency to do, I played out the mental boxing match in my brain, getting in a few jabs before I moved on to the next thing. The boxing match continued in the background while Caleb and I searched for a superhero chapter book, as Caleb wasn’t excited with the selections I had made. And he left the library happy, his mother’s arm around his shoulders, a Superman book in his hands.
But I wasn’t. I was dealing with my own feelings of being lost, not knowing what direction I should head next. The weekend ended on such a negative note for me, and I imagine I feel a little like Caleb felt for those few moments in the library–helpless. But as I type, I wonder if, perhaps, I should remember what I told Caleb: sit and wait. Sometimes the act of searching can make one even more lost than when one began. And, sometimes, one wasn’t even lost to begin with.
Without meaning to, I had picked two fruits of the Spirit for our first two weeks in Journeys. While I deviated from that theme over the last two weeks, I thought that perhaps we could revisit the idea:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis added
For this week’s journey, we will explore love. Next week, we will pick up with forbearance and move in order until the end. Be ready to share your post on love this Friday!
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And if you have a topic that you’d like to submit, feel free to e-mail me anytime: jennifer at matt dash davis dot com