It is a truth universally acknowledged that moms can find stuff. My mom is a finder (she’s also a keeper), and most of my memories of petitioning her help to locate something beloved involve her patient searching and questioning (“Where did you last see it? Have you checked your brothers’ room? Do you think Presley (our dog) could have gotten it?”) rather than exasperated guilt trips. This also applies to shopping for outfits–we searched all of our favorite stores for my high school graduation outfit and spent hours trying things on, and my mom kept going with me. She even stopped for Sonic. That woman is patient.
My mom has also helped me find some intangible things. When things are going terribly and life is over and I’m thinking of moving to a dark hole under a rock, she asks about good things we can find in a bad situation. This is a practice I remember doing as a little girl with her, and it still happens when I call her complaining and seeking pity. She helps me find solutions to everyday problems (“We’re out of cream of tartar! What is cream of tartar again? Oh, it’s a useless ingredient produced by The Man to make our lives complicated? Great, thanks!”) and listens politely as I seek advice. And sometimes she doesn’t even give advice! Sometimes she says, “I don’t know what to tell you, baby girl. That’s something you’ll have to figure out yourself or with JD or with Jesus or with your sensei.” The nerve of that woman.
But through my mom, I have seen how helping people find things that are lost is an act of love. It’s a communal, I’m-with-you act. Because if we find it, we can rejoice together. If we don’t find it, we can grieve together. There is a significant difference in a burden’s weight when someone else is helping you look; there’s a sigh of a relief, a renewed sense of purpose, a feeling of togetherness.
Thinking about this idea has reshaped how I see some stories of faith. Growing up, I hated the story of Peter walking on water. It was terrifying for many reasons: 1. He had to try and walk on the sea (for a person who can barely swim, there is no way I would do that), 2. He sinks and begins to drown (my worst nightmare), and 3. Jesus chastises him (“O, where is your faith? Why did you doubt?” Um, Jesus… He’s walking on water… was he not allowed a little doubt leeway, a learning curve, perhaps?). I never understood why that was such an inspiring story… it was just another story proving that we would fail at faith. And that Jesus would be mad at us and roll his eyes.
This story was brought up a few weeks ago at a dinner with friends, and I can’t remember what else we were talking about, but as that question that Jesus asked struck me: “O, where is your faith? Where is it? Where did it go? When is the last time you saw it?” tears filled my eyes. I had it all wrong.
“O, where is your faith?” was not a question that implies “How could you lose it?” but rather “Let me help you find it.”
Jesus wasn’t an accuser, He was a mother.