When was the last time you got lost? Lost while traveling through town? Lost in a store? Lost in a book? Lost in an activity? When was the last time you allowed yourself to get lost?
My parents used to make fun of me as a college student and afterward when I visited them at the beach. Since I was coming from a different starting point, I was responsible for finding my own way to the beach. This was before the current availability and accuracy of GPS devices, and, for some reason, I could never seem to get to the beach by using the same way twice. Inevitably, I would miss a turn somewhere and then just find my way – I knew that as long as I stayed heading south and east, I would eventually hit the coast; from that point it was just a matter of deciding whether I needed to go north or south to get to where my parents were. I was able to see some unique sites on the backroads I ended up traveling, going through towns that barely made a map, seeing fields in various stages of growth, finding beautiful buildings or scenes unexpectedly.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to get lost?
Perhaps I was directionally challenged because when I was growing up, if we were in the car for more than 10 minutes, I was lost – lost in a book. When I first started to drive around town as a 15-year-old beginning driver, I had no idea where to go – road names had no meaning to me. I had spent my childhood reading every moment that I was sitting still. I went from a 14-year-old child lost in a book to a 15-year-old driver lost in a moderately-sized town.
When was the last time you allowed yourself to get lost? If not while traveling somewhere, what about lost in a book? Lost in a moment of fun and spontaneity?
When was the last time you allowed your child(ren) to get lost?
Let’s think about what is lost by never getting lost.
When we are never lost, we never get away from it all. Remember when you were last immersed in an amazing movie, so much so that you managed to go over 2-hours without checking your phone or email? When we are always connected, we never truly take a break and get away from it all.
When we are never lost, we lose creativity. When we get lost (physically or in an idea), we start making maps and images in our head, engaging a cognitive function that is becoming harder and harder to engage.
When we are never lost, we fail to try new things. When we are physically lost, we end up seeing new towns or trying new restaurants. When we get lost in a store, we find new songs or books or clothes that we like. When we allow ourselves to get away from the known, we learn new interests and ideas.
When we are never lost, we lose space for God. In the quiet, still moments, God often speaks the loudest. God spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19) not as a rushing wind, not in the earthquake, not in the first, but in a gentle whisper. If we are constantly rushing around within our plan, do we ever give space for us to hear God?
When we are never lost, we lose empathy. Being lost is uncomfortable. Not knowing where you are, not knowing what is expected, feeling out of place. This is what the middle grades years feel like! Yet as adults, we forget what it is like to not be in our element and can lose empathy for those who are outside of their element. Whether it be because of age, cultural/economic differences, life experiences, whatever – when we remember what it is like to be lost, we will have greater empathy for those who are feeling lost around us.
When we are never lost, we lose the beauty around us. When we feel lost, we look at our surroundings differently. Or, more importantly, when we are not lost, we do not look at what is around us. Can you drive to work some mornings only to wonder how you do not recall a significant portion of your drive? Whether it is lost in a book, or lost in a car, or lost in a store, we will be more likely to notice things when we are paying attention, as opposed to on auto-pilot. Get lost so that you can pay attention to the details that you will miss on autopilot.
I encourage you to not only find time to get lost but make sure that your child(ren) have plenty of time to get lost as well.