My baby turns 30 this week.
She came to us as an angry infant, her harsh cries filling the nights. Then the anger became a slow burn, self-will and defiance building with each year. There was counseling, evaluations, and interventions in the desperate hope of stemming the tide. But then came the boiling over, her rage fueling a determination to destroy her life. There were midnight trips to police stations, runaway reports, empty bottles, broken hearts.
And then she was gone.
We have no idea where she is, and haven’t for years now. She left behind exhausted and wary parents, wounded siblings, and two children, now motherless.
My baby turns 30 this week, somewhere out there in the darkness she chose.
She left behind the warmth of home for cold sidewalks, park benches and jail cells. She left behind a family both relieved and grieving at her going. I’m baffled by her craving for harshness and hatred instead of the tender love she’d always known.
My baby turns 30 this week, a milestone that should be celebrated with cake and candles, hugs from her children, friends and laughter.
We have released her to the pursuing love of God. To the God who came for exactly this. And we pray. Oh, how we pray for this one gone missing from the circle of our family, but never from the heart of God.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.