I was lost.

I searched everywhere. Maybe the real me was thinner, wore contacts, painted her face, and got her hair done regularly. But when I presented this missing persons photo to others they replied, “Nope, I’ve never seen her before. The woman we know homeschools—where are her acid-washed mom jeans, head bands, and glasses?

So, my hunt continued.

“Look within,” one corner of the world counseled. “Meditate.” But no amount of humming, zoning, or internalizing helped me find my hiding place. “Keep yourself busy! Speak it—you—into being!” the other corner preached, but my frenzied activities and whirling dervish imitation only kicked up a dust storm, further obscuring myself from view. I could only “see in a mirror, dimly…” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

For a while I used my book and my website to mount a search party; I could be there and here at the same time. I wrote and re-wrote hundreds of pages of fiction, posted week after week, and entered one writing contest after another, hoping to ferret out myself through the hunting lenses of others, but I couldn’t read myself between the lines.

My work. I just knew it would be there I’d find “me.” After all my complaining about not having time for myself or room to breathe, I just knew I’d open my computer and out I’d spring, like a flesh-and-blood Jill-in-the-box. What emerged instead were frustrations, missed deadlines, rejection letters, and time wasted on unseen eyes and ears.

Retreat! Submit! Time for this angel to look homeward. Surely if I manipulated my seven little pieces I would somehow win the Where’s Mommy? game. Where else would I be if not in my husband, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh? Fit together, the sum total of this family puzzle would somehow equal, yet magnify my own: Songbird has my cheekbones and the voice I only use in the shower; the Crusader has my gift of procrastination, yet he doesn’t crack under pressure. Maven is the bookworm with the muscle tone I dream of; M&M rules the roost from his tiny perch; Brown Sugar tugs both the heartstrings and the nerves; the Lone Ranger keeps and breaks the peace in one fell stroke; Think Tank controls everything but his temper… And they’re all the spittin’ image of Hubby, my better half, the one I expected would complete me since God considered us one.

Yet I couldn’t find me in their midst. Nor was I cloaked by the darkness in the nether regions of their beds, among the one-legged, half-naked Barbies, unmatched athletic socks, potato chip crumbs, and overdue library books. Each has my heart interlaced between the skin of their nimble fingers, but somehow I’d slipped through their grasp…

Maybe if I reorganized, reprioritized, and just plain cleaned up, I’d find myself buried under all the mess. I wasn’t squirreled away beneath the clutter on my desk or flattened between the stacks of textbooks, however. I hadn’t become some noxious science experiment in the forgotten storage containers in my refrigerator. Yet, once my newly polished floors glowed and the bathroom tile gleamed, neither reflected my image.

His image! Of course! I needed to go where I’d find His image. I wasn’t writing, teaching my children, cooking dinner, snuggling Hubby, or scrubbing the windows—I had to be crouching at the altar, praying before the cross, or shouting in the “Amen” choir. I looked under every pew and lifted every choir robe, yet I still couldn’t find myself.

Finally, in desperation, out of places to look, I gave up.

And there I was—or rather, there He is.

It was almost like looking everywhere for M&M’s red sandals and two hours later, finding them in his closet—of all places—where someone had correctly placed them. But since I never found shoes where they belonged (matching pairs, no less), I never thought to look in the place that made the most sense.

The place that made the most sense. That’s where I was.

It’s understandable why I hadn’t seen me there. He cradled me in one hand and sheltered me with the other, protecting me when Hubby couldn’t, loving me when the little people wouldn’t, giving me an identity in Him that fans and foes will not provide or detract from. Long ago, He’d whispered, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10). In my frantic search I’d forgotten. I thank you, God, that you never did.

Jesus saved me for Him, from myself, from the enemy who had held me hostage for years. For so long I’d tried to break the chains by binding myself to activities, commitments, and other people, but I couldn’t recognize the prisoner I so desperately sought to free. Today, I recognize that “Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) Jesus paid my ransom, and He Himself captivated me with His Word. He knows me. I am no longer a Missing Person. Just as the Lone Ranger cries, “You’re it!” in a game of hide-and-seek, so rejoices the Lord, crying out in victory. Psalm 32:7 says, “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.”

But it’s not that He found me, because He knew where I was the entire time I was sifting through dust bunnies and employing search engines. After all, it was He who “formed my inward parts” and “covered me in my mother’s womb”; He “saw my substance, being yet unformed.” (Psalm 139:13, 15)

I will sometimes feel lost, and I actually might want to get lost, yet I will take comfort in hiding and finding myself in Christ, for it is only “in Him that we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28). Mom jeans and all.

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