When I was a child, I was always losing things.
A common refrain in our house was, “Mom, I can’t find [insert random item here].” She would always say, “Have you looked in your room?” I would say yes, of course—although my version of “looking” probably involved more of a half-hearted glance around the room than a real, in-depth search.
Mom usually sent me back to check again, and when I was certain that I would never be able to find whatever absolutely necessary item I had lost, she would come find it for me. I’m convinced that moms have a special skill of being able to find things that their kids lose—all she had to do was simply walk in the room, and she would immediately find whatever I had misplaced. It usually was somewhere in plain sight in a place where I was sure I had looked, but with her special mom vision, she found it when I couldn’t.
If she were busy, sometimes she dispatched my brothers to help me. They were also good at finding things. No matter how it happened, though, we inevitably discovered that the thing wasn’t actually lost—I had just put it somewhere and forgotten about it.
As a small child, I also had very blonde, curly hair. I still do, actually, but when I was little, it naturally formed perfect Shirley Temple spirals all around my head that turned into impossible snarls if you tried to brush them. My mom sometimes put my hair into tiny curly pigtails and put little hair bows around them. I loved bows. I was such a girly girl. We had quite the collection of bows and ribbons in a special box in the bathroom, and I was always happy when the miserable job of hair-brushing was done (it was so painful!) and it was time to decide what ribbons to wear today.
After having had two sons, my mom determined that if their third child were a girl, her favorite color would be pink—not blue. She was getting a little tired of blue. She painstakingly stenciled pink bows as a border all around my wall, near the ceiling. There was a lot of soft pink everywhere. There was some blue too, but there was a lot of pink. So I think it was a bit of a disappointment for her when I was old enough to understand what favorite colors were and announced that mine was definitely “bwoo!”
It naturally follows, then, that my favorite hair bows and ribbons were the blue ones. My very favorite of all the favorites, however, was one satin ribbon in particular. It was the most beautiful shiny royal blue color, and I just loved it.
One day when the whole family was getting ready for Church services, I was wearing an outfit that went perfectly with my favorite ribbon. I was so excited! My mom was dressing in her room, so she told me to go find the ribbon, and she would put it in my hair.
I briskly made my way to the ribbons box on my chubby little legs (walking, not running, since it was the Sabbath). Lifting the lid, I sorted through the many pretty notions in the box—but where was my blue ribbon? Panicking, I emptied the whole box on the floor and began to search with greater intensity. No blue ribbon. Where was it?
I asked my mom if she had seen it, and she told me that the last time she had seen it, I was wearing it.
“You’ve probably misplaced it. Go check your room—it’s probably lying around somewhere.”
Instead of cursorily glancing around, I went into full-bore Sherlock Holmes mode. I checked under ever pillow, opened every drawer, moved every stuffed animal—but that blue ribbon was nowhere to be found.
I went back to mom, almost in tears. She came and checked my room as well—but she couldn’t find it either. The mom vision had failed! I had lost my ribbon! It was gone forever! I was sure of it.
When she failed to find it too, Mom gave me the best advice she could have: “Pray about it. God will listen.”
I hadn’t thought of that! I rushed back to my room, new hope springing in my heart. I figured that God was probably pretty busy running the Earth and the universe—that’s a big job!—but maybe, just maybe, He would have time for little me and my paltry request.
I knelt down beside my bed and prayed. (I had a lisp as a child, so it’s more realistic to imagine that into the dialogue as well.) “Dear Father in heaven, I lost my favorite blue ribbon. I really, really love it, and I really wanted to wear it today, but I can’t find it anywhere, and I think I might have lost it forever. I think you know where I put it, so could you please, please, please help me find it? Thank you, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”
As soon as I opened my eyes, a thought popped into my head. What about that big white chest at the end of my bed? Maybe I hadn’t checked that as thoroughly as I thought I had. I rushed over and lifted the hinged lid of the chest—but I didn’t see any ribbon. Disappointed, I started to close it—when I saw a flash of blue.
There it was! It had fallen into the hinge of the chest, almost out of sight—but not quite. I gently extricated it from the hinge and carried it joyfully to my mom, and she tied it in my hair.
“See?” she said. “God does hear your prayers.”
For a second, I was startled by the thought. I had found it myself, hadn’t I? But then I realized that God probably put the thought in my mind to check there. I had opened the chest before, but I hadn’t been able to find the ribbon until I prayed about it.
This was the first time I remember ever realizing that God really did listen to my prayers. It was an awe-inspiring experience. I’m not sure how old I was at the time, but I know that I was still very young. Even though it was so long ago, this memory has stuck with me ever since because it taught me that no matter what, there is always somewhere I can turn for help. Sometimes, it is easy to think like I did as a three- or four-year old: God must be pretty busy ruling the universe—why should I bother Him with this little thing? But the truth is, God loves to hear our prayers.
In hindsight, I’m glad I lost my ribbon because it taught me a hugely important lesson about prayer. It taught me that God is never too busy to listen, if we will go to Him. If you have a problem in your life—whether it’s a little one like losing a ribbon or a big one like a health trial or family difficulties—take it to God. No one listens like He does. And sometimes, He is the only one with the answers.