Searching

You see them on telephone poles and gas pumps ... in store windows and on bulletin boards ... by cash registers and on billboards - missing person posters. 

I used to glance at them. Look at the person's face for a second, read the vital information, and move on with my life. What are the odds that I'd see the person, anyway? And if I did, I'd probably remember what they looked like, right?

Then my pastor's neighbor, Barbara, disappeared. After hearing about her disappearance from my pastor, a friend posted on facebook and asked for prayers for Barbara and her family. I shared the post. I prayed - not just once, but throughout the day. I really looked at the poster, and joined a facebook group for the people searching for Barbara Grohs. It was there that I discovered something. 

The stories about Barbara from her family and friends touch my heart every day. Their love for her, their fear for her safety, and their prayers for her return consume their lives. Perhaps Barbara is consumed with all that is happening and is searching for something as well. 

Barbara Grohs' story hit home ... hard. I have been in a place where I felt an overwhelming need to get away from the circumstances of my life ... to just disappear, for a while or forever. Part of my need to escape from my life was not wanting those around me to see how truly broken I was - not wanting them to hurt because I hurt - not wanting to inflict myself on them. In that place, I couldn't feel their love or see the hurt I would cause if I disappeared. In that state of mind, it was easy to believe the world would be a better place for those I love if I wasn't there to cause them pain. 

When I was ready to flee from my life, a friend of mine stepped in. She got me the help I needed. It was excruciatingly difficult for me at the time, but for what she did for me, I will be forever grateful. 

Reading posts of love and support by those searching for Barbara, I discovered what it was that I could have done to those who love me, and rediscovered the part of my self that knows the pain, the utter despondency, that could drive someone to vanish.

I pray Barbara returns to her family and friends safely - and soon. I pray that those who love her and are concerned about her will welcome her back peacefully, perhaps quietly, allowing her space and time to process what she's been through and what her life is now while receiving the care she needs. It could be scary to have thousands of people looking for you, possibly judging you, and wanting to bring you back to the life from which you long to escape. 

I pray that everyone who reads this will take a closer look at every missing poster they come across. That they will really study the photo and description and keep their eyes open. And help spread the word. And pray for the person, and for the family and friends who so desperately want to see them again.




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