The sun was setting as I stood there in the shadow of the London Eye, desperately scanning the throngs of people for my two boys. My worst fears were beginning to twist their way around my heart — the boys weren’t just late, they were missing. What began as a coming of age trip to Europe had become a nightmare.
I paced back and forth, trying to tell myself that there was a logical explanation. But I couldn’t find it. More than an hour earlier, we had left Westminster Abbey, planning to cross the bridge and catch a ride on Europe’s highest ferris wheel. The boys, excited about being in London on an adventure with Dad, asked me if they could ride the Tube by themselves instead of walk with me. What could go wrong with that?, I remember thinking to myself. It seemed like a great way for them to flex their new teenage muscles.
It wasn’t until the boys had descended into the bowels of the London Underground that I realized we hadn’t made any plans for what happened if they got lost. Oh, and when we arrived a few days earlier, I had told them to turn off their phones so that we wouldn’t get crazy international charges. Of course, I didn’t tell them that it was OK to turn on their phones if they accidentally became lost in a city of 10 million people. Good move, Dad
Over an hour later, desperate for some way to find the boys, I finally caved and called my wife Sarah in Colorado. The conversation went something like this.
“Uh, hi Babe.”
“Hi, how are? How are the boys? Are you having fun?”
“Yeah, everything is great.”
“Well, I don’t actually know where the boys are this exact minute, but we’re doing good.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“So…they may or may not be somewhere in the London subway system. I was wondering if you could try the Apple find my phone feature to see if you can see them.”
I think this is where there were a few other things said. Moms and wives, you can fill in the blanks a bit. After a short, lively conversation, Sarah tried to find them with no luck.
“John, did you really let the boys go by themselves alone in Europe?”
My stomach was churning. My eyes were getting blurry. I knew I was in serious trouble.
“Have you prayed?” She asked. In the rush of everything, I hadn’t. We prayed together and…just then, then boys showed up. They were walking up a path along the river, munching on roasted peanuts and laughing.
I was dumbfounded. I ran to them. “Are you OK?”
Chandler looked at Harrison. He was a bit more shaken up than his older brother. “We missed the stop so we just got off a few stops later. We could see the ferris wheel so we thought we’d just walk to it.”
Harrison added. “I told Chandler, ‘Dad loves adventure. He’ll love the fact that we’re doing this.’”
It was true. I did love adventure. I had taught them to embrace risk and new experiences but also to use wisdom. They had done exactly that. I realized that in that moment, they had taken a big step toward becoming men and I had taken a big step in understanding that more often than not, our fears are unfounded.
How about you? Was there a time that you were afraid only to later realize that you had made your fears bigger than they actually were? How did you handle it?
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