Lost in London

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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.”

Short pause.

“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?”

Long pause.

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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  • Elisar Wallarby

    perfect timing, and you just popped via Twitter . Thank you for this post. I am literally in the process of starting a blog as I’m taking a blogging course now and I’ve been trying to get a handle on my own lost feelings I’ve had about creativity and living my life to the fullest. One of my posts on my blog (which is not quite public yet) is about that same nightmare of a feeling you had when you thought your boys were ‘missing’. Your post validated my own words that I want to post but was unsure. One night I thought my daughter was missing and I went through those dreadful feelings you expressed all the while trying to grasp reality with trembling logic. You’ll have to read my blog to sense the experience..tee..hee (its not live yet). But I wanted to thank you for sharing your creative energy as I embark on blogging. So glad your boys were found, their spirits was definitely formed with all kinds of good energy. soak up the full moon. seize this day! ty

    • John Bolin

      Thanks so much for sharing this, Elisar! No doubt losing a child is terrifying. So is launching out to do something new. Take this as inspiration that you’re on the right track with your blog. Can’t wait to read it once its live. Go, Elisar, go!

  • John Bolin

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Elisar! No doubt losing a child is terrifying. So is launching out to do something new. Take this as inspiration that you’re on the right track with your blog. Can’t wait to read it once its live. Go, Elisar, go!

  • D.A. Jones

    John-Perfect story and vital message. Thank you! (Before your next adventure, load Apple’s free “Find Friends” app on your phones. It works very similarly to “Find iPhone.” That way you’ll be able to “see” both your boys simultaneously, they’ll be able to “see” you, and you can shorten the pregnant pauses next time you call Sarah!

    • John Bolin

      Thanks for the encouragement, D.A. and great advice. I’m definitely going to download Find Friends. We are a traveling family and now that the kids are getting older, this will be a lifesaver! Have a great weekend.

  • John Bolin

    Thanks for the encouragement, D.A. and great advice. I’m definitely going to download Find Friends. We are a traveling family and now that the kids are getting older, this will be a lifesaver! Have a great weekend.

  • Mary Finn Infante

    I have had many times when I allowed my fears to get much bigger than they need be. I now recognize it and am working, with some small success, at keeping it in check. Prayer is my main tool in this!!

    • John Bolin

      Thanks for the honesty, Mary Finn. No doubt, prayer is crucial in overcoming fears. I appreciate it.

  • John Bolin

    Thanks for the honesty, Mary Finn. No doubt, prayer is crucial in overcoming fears. I appreciate the note.