So my daughter lost her retainer the other day. Less than a month after receiving it.
To be clear: Received retainer April 1. Lost retainer April 24.
I was not happy. I know that losing one’s retainer seems to be a rite of passage for teenagers, much like getting one’s learner’s permit, but still. Losing a retainer is like throwing money away. Especially when the loser can’t remember the last time she had it.
Added to the scenario of lostness is that she wasn’t feeling well. So guess who got to look for it? Yours truly. Makes sense – I’m the one who paid for it, but that didn’t help my attitude much. Grumble, grumble.
Then ensued hours of searching under the couches, in the couches. Under furniture. Behind furniture. Logical places. Illogical places. We have four cats who like to bat things around, so, truly, that retainer could have been anywhere in the whole blessed house.
I had one brief moment of elation when I picked up a couch cushion and heard a plastic click as something hit the floor. But no. Mechanical pencil. Evil, deceiving mechanical pencil.
Of course, I’m praying as I’m looking, asking for help and wisdom from the Finder of lost things. And as I’m searching my daughter’s room for the third time, the Spirit nudged me. He reminded me of when Jesus talked about the man losing the sheep and looking for it, the woman losing the coin and sweeping her house until she found it, and the parable of the prodigal son.
“The retainer is small and insignificant, but it is important to you,” He said. “Lost people are important to me.”
I heard a sermon years ago, where the preacher kept repeating, “Live your life for Kingdom purposes.” That stuck with me. It’s so easy for me to be focused on what is right in front of me (laundry, dishes, dust, homework). Even though I spend most of my time in a holy huddle, with Christian friends and neighbors, I ask for single-mindedness for God to show His love through me to the lost people around me: the girl at Starbucks, the Muslim guy at the mail place, the grocery checkout lady. They’re all around, and they’re looking to us for proof that they matter to God.
Written by Terri Welch, Cypress United Methodist Church Member