It might surprise anyone (except my family) to learn that I suffer from a serious phobia. I am terrified of making phone calls! That is not an overstatement. I am TERRIFIED of making phone calls. I will talk on the phone if you call me, but I actually get sick to my stomach and experience a mini panic attack in the moments just before dialing a phone to “reach out and touch someone”, as the Ma Bell commercials used to say. I talked with a therapist once about this issue. She said the phone fear is about rejection. Yep! I’d have to agree.
So, given my deep-seated fear of Alexander Bell’s most famous invention, what motivated me to (without hesitation) pick up the phone to call a perfect stranger? Simple. Her child is missing.
My friend Liz called me earlier today and asked me if I would call a desperate mom whose 14 year-old daughter has been missing for six weeks. Liz knew I might be able to offer encouragement and insight, because 5 ½ years ago, I was in that woman’s shoes. Before I contacted the distraught mom, I called Giana. She had been that runaway little girl, and I needed her perspective and wisdom. She was wonderful. She said, “Tell the girl’s mom that her daughter wants to come home, but something bigger than herself is keeping her away.”
I picked up my cell phone and called the number Liz had given me. “Liz told me you’d call. Thank you.” The voice sounded relieved. The missing girl’s mom was doing everything she knew to do to find her child—putting up posters, regular contact with the police, contacting friends and acquaintances, then doing it all again…day after day. There is nothing a parent won’t do to find their missing child! I told her our story and then gave her some ideas that she hadn’t considered. She was so grateful to talk to me. The worst part about being in the midst of a storm is the feeling of aloneness.
I shared Giana’s words with the little girl’s mom. “Your daughter wants to come home.” Mom told me she would “operate with that belief”.
It is against the law for children under the age of 18 to run away in many jurisdictions, but not in California. A 2003 FBI study showed that there were 123,581 arrests for runaway youths in the United States. I know that the numbers are much higher today, due in part to rampant drug use among teen-agers. So many hurting kids and so many hurting families…
I would not wish my experience on any mom or dad! It is our job and desire to protect our kids from harm and pain. Not knowing where my daughter was, and not knowing if she was sick or hurting was heart wrenching. I am, however, so grateful that I can share hope with other mothers who now find themselves in that same dark place.
Today I’m praying for the safe and soon homecoming of another little girl