I misplaced — or lost — my keys, despite my ever-so-good intention to slow down and be careful.
Misplacing keys is common for me. Metaphorically, perhaps I’m afraid of unlocking closed doors to find only skeletons are on the other side. Practically, misplacing my keys causes loss of time and increased distress and anxiety. My distress is even greater when I make a commitment to be ever-so-careful of keeping up with my keys. I even made this commitment out loud to a friend this holiday weekend because I had more stress than usual. How did this happen, I ask myself. I was so careful. I PAID ATTENTION to my stress.
Like in the story of Franz Kafka and the lost doll, I console myself with his sentiment of “everything you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end love will return in a different form.”
When I’ve lost keys, love did return to me in a different form — it came through as Grace. Sheepishly, I admit my fallibility of losing a tool which helps me be productive. I’ve reported to two employers my carelessness with their property. Each time, the reaction has been, “by when do you need a new set of keys?”
Whew! No pink slip pushed under the locked door. Instead they understood that people make mistakes and I’m a people.
I have been like the widow in the parable of the lost coin. During Biblical times, married Jewish women wore coins as adornments and to keep intimate track of them. I have worn my keys on lanyards around my neck. Even with this personal connection, the widow lost one of her coins, and I have lost my keys. The widow swept and dusted her home until she found her coin. I retraced my steps and, oftentimes, my keys are exactly where I had left them. But not this set.
What about the times when I give up the keys for lost? My limited vision, memory, and mind blinds me from finding what is lost. This is symbolic of how I have had family members lost to various manifestations of illness. They became lost in their illness and so I became blinded by the illness and so lost sight of the person caught up in the illness. In the same way, I become so caught up in finding lost keys, I lose track of myself. Yet, God knows where the lost item or person is. I do not need to count the number of hairs on my head. God already has undertaken this task. God knows where the lost keys are and God sees the person who is lost in their obsession — whether it’s finding keys or finding their whatever.
When something has been irretrievably lost or lost for so long that the time it is taking to find it interferes with getting on with life, then I need to see a different solution. When my keys are replaced, they will be a shinier version. Sometimes healing an illness means shedding old ways, such as bad habits. God wants us to shed what we’ve outgrown.
I haven’t found the keys I lost this week, but I did happen to find the keys I lost a few years ago when I was cleaning out a closet. And when I look at these keys now, I see that like a snake that has outgrown its skin, I no longer need the keys or the doors they unlocked.