Nobody indicated otherwise, so I said, "Great!"
We had just begun to roll down the road when I looked back again and noticed my 15-year old missing.
Oh, no, I thought, not Nathan! He's the one we forgot last time!
So I exclaimed, "Honey - hurry! Back up and I'll run in before he realizes we almost forgot him again!"
Within a minute I was back inside the house. Hearing Nathan upstairs, I exhaled a sigh of relief. Whew! He didn't notice.
My sister's husband had a questioning look on his face, so I just said quietly, "We forgot Nathan... don't say anything."
Soon after, Nathan opened the door so I hollered nonchalantly, "Nathan... time to go!"
He ran downstairs, said his goodbyes and we climbed in the van. Just as we were getting ready to pull away, someone in the back said, "Where's Nicholas?"
We gasped. How did we miss Nicholas?
So I asked, "Nathan, will you go find Nicholas?"
"Sure." Nathan said, and then ran to the house.
Pretty soon, out came -- not Nathan -- but my brother-in-law. Standing there in his robe with his hands out and eyes wide, he gestured, "What the --?"
Chuckling, we watched him disappear back into the home. Then suddenly, he stepped into the doorway again with a look of utter disbelief, and three fingers held high.
What's that supposed to mean? We wondered.
Just then, Nathan emerged from the house with Nicholas...
Okay, in my defense, I will say that we were driving a 15 passenger van full of blankets, pillows, and backpacks. Most of the time, you can't see everyone in their seats even when they ARE there. When you rely on one child to let you know that their buddy is missing, but that child is missing, too... well, you see what can happen.
Did you know you can leave three children behind and not even realize it?
I do now.
It reminded me of the family who stopped at a gas station during a long road trip, and then hours later realized that the mother had left her prescription glasses there. Regretfully, they had to turn around and go back for them, costing them in a lot of extra time and gas. When they arrived, they discovered their son waiting, too.
This kind of absent-mindedness can get really expensive in terms of time, resources, and most importantly, damaged relationships.
I my case, I thought we were ready to go, but I was wrong. The added clutter in the van, and my hastiness, distracted me from the indicators (empty seats) that would have told us exactly what we needed to do next (find our children), before driving away. Had we proceeded anyway, without fixing the immediate problem, it could have cost us in extra time, gas, and again, most importantly, potentially damaged relationships.
So how can we avoid absent-mindedness? Maybe it's just a matter of addressing the clutter. Too much clutter in life can distract us from subtle indicators that would clearly tell us exactly what we really need to do next on our journey to the desired goal.
What are you trying to accomplish?
Stronger family relationships?
Peace of mind?
A sense of fulfillment?
It could be that there's something critical you aren't even thinking about... something urgent and important that you must do first.
If life's clutter is keeping you from recognizing it, then there may come a day when you have to turn around and go all the way back to this place to fix what was neglected right now. There are subtle indicators ready to get your attention, but you may need to slow down and clear up some clutter before you'll notice them.
So... what kind of "clutter" can become a distraction from the subtle indicators?
"Clutter" might include:
Too many unnecessary activities filling your day (life is short - be selective about how you spend your time!)
Too many unnecessary things lying around your home or office (things were created to be utilized, to benefit people - if you no longer benefit from possessing an object, transfer it to someone who will put it to use.)
Too many meaningless conversations (do your discussions center on the topic of things, other people, or uplifting ideas?)
Too many meaningless non-family relationships (is there a positive exchange of service, knowledge, or value taking place... or not?)
If you get caught up in the clutter and miss the subtle (but otherwise oh-so-obvious) indicators that something else is an urgent priority (like a child left behind), at some point you may have to go back and make things right before you can arrive at your desired destination with all the right parts and pieces in tact.
So this is my invitation to you: take inventory of your life. Where are you trying to go?
Do your activities, conversations, things, and non-family relationships, truly make the necessary contribution to your journey? Clear what you can, and then take a look around. You might find a gaping hole right under your nose that requires your immediate attention now. Address it now, and you'll get to your destination successfully a whole lot faster.
(And, if you've ever lost track of a child as we have, don't feel too bad... there's even record that it happened to some of the most famous and well-respected parents in history: Joseph and Mary, when Jesus was 12, two thousand years ago.)
By Leslie Householder for thewinonline.com