It was a warm day several years ago when I set the car keys on the side steps of our house. Then, without engaging my brain, I tucked them into a basket in the top of the closet.

A few days later, when my Dad arrived back from his business travel, his keys were no where to be found, and the last I could remember they were sitting on the steps at the side of our house.

I was a 40+ year old who felt like a teenager who lost the keys to her Dad’s car. Not because anything he said or did took me back there. In that moment, Dad was gracious and kind. Still, I felt ashamed, foolish and small.

I’d searched everywhere that I could think of to look.

I apologized. I made a mistake and I could not find the keys. I would keep looking for them, and if I found them, I would return them. And if there was anything else that was necessary for me to do to repair my mistake, I’d do what I could.

Dad was gracious and kind. Mistakes happen. He had an extra key in his wallet.

I had to dig deep and calm my fears, breathe through my anxiety, and settle my smallness. Through the intervening years, I have had to do the same again and again, because when I recall the incident, the storm of shame would begin again.

In our house, my kids say that something’s not lost until Mama can’t find it.

So today, I was looking for another lost thing. Emptying baskets and sorting through winter gear that is still in my front closet. Today’s lost thing is not found.

But I finally found the keys for my Dad’s vehicle.

And every experience of calming my shame storms rather than spilling them out onto my family has built my skill through the years of becoming aware of my emotions and breathing healing into them.

So, maybe it was worth it…?

Sorry, Dad. I’ll bring you your keys when we can leave the city…