The date on my passport … and other lessons
Our family was supposed to be leaving tomorrow for a dear friend’s wedding in Canada. I was ecstatic at the opportunity to see this friend again after not doing so for almost 4 years. I was so looking forward to meeting her fiancee, her family, and getting to celebrate all that God had done in bringing her and her husband together.
But then one week ago, Shun-Luoi and I talked about the fact that we should probably check what we would need for our kids to get in and out of the 2 countries involved. At the same time, I realized that I had not be out of the country for 10 years and should probably also check my passport to make sure all was well with it. You can probably see where this is going …
Yep. My passport had expired this past February. I literally felt ill to my stomach at this realization. Shun-Luoi and I scoured the web, trying to figure out if there was any other way that we could make things work (it wasn’t getting into Canada that was the problem, but getting back into the States). There wasn’t, except for spending hundreds of dollars to expedite the process of renewing my passport, which wasn’t an option for us. I went to bed (it was late in the evening at this point) and cried. I felt so stupid and was incredibly disappointed. I hated the thought of having to tell my friend that I would not be celebrating her big day with her.
However, God decided to take this situation and turn it into a “teachable moment,” much like I seek to do with my kiddos in the midst of specific circumstances. He started with the lesson the very evening I learned the truth of my passport blunder. Whereas in the past, I would spend a considerable amount of time mentally and emotionally “flogging” myself for my mistake, God graciously allowed me to remember that I am not perfect (nor can I be); that I am a human and made an honest, human mistake. By his grace, I believed Him and accepted His love for me, despite my slightly broken heart over my mistake.
The lessons continued with the coming of the next morning, I headed to Denver for an appointment at a dental school. If you have ever been to a dental or cosmetology school for services, you’ll know that what you don’t pay for your services in money, you pay with the amount of time you spend there. All that is to say, I had plenty of time to think as I was sitting reclined in the dental chair. While I was there, I waited a considerable time for the dental student who was working with me to show up. She eventually did, slightly frantic as it turned out that she had been in the ER most of the night with potential pre-term labor (it is way too early for this in her pregnancy). Also, during the course of that morning, I received a text from a close friend in which she sadly shared that a serious health situation of a loved one had worsened.
Perspective. That’s what God gave me while sitting in that dental chair. Was I saddened and disappointed about not being able to attend my friend’s wedding? Yes, and those feelings were not to be dismissed. However, in the grand scheme of life, it would be ok. Far more difficult things were happening around me and I needed to keep that in mind.
And then there were the lessons on trust. I had to ask myself if I truly trusted God with this situation. Did I trust that He was not caught off guard by it and that it was not outside of his control? Did I trust Him to do things that are for my good (but ultimately, about his glory) even though honestly, He could have brought the passport issue to my mind a million times prior to one week before we were scheduled to leave for Canada? (even though, looking back, it had crossed – and quickly left – my mind once before weeks previously)? Did I trust that there was some reason He did not do so? Yes, I realize this brings up huge theological questions of God’s sovereignty and how that works with our free will, etc. But we’re not going there in this post. The bottom line was – did I trust Him to be over all things?
And what about my friend? I already had a scheduled time to talk with her the night after I learned of my expired passport. I spent some time that day fighting fear – would she be mad? Would she think my mistake was incredibly stupid? Therein layed a few additional questions of trust – would I trust God with that friendship? And would I believe the best of that friend since I already knew her character would not make her prone to getting mad over such things, but instead prone to show grace and understanding toward me?
Whew. In just 24 hours after taking that look at my passport, I had learned a ton and was, quite frankly, exhausted. But I was also thankful and at peace. Thankful for those lessons. Thankful for the responses of God and of my friend toward me in the midst of my honest mistake. And at peace with the whole situation, even though I was still disappointed.
Oh, those teachable moments … they’re often no fun at the time. However, I’m grateful (aren’t you?) that God loves me enough to graciously teach me in order that I hopefully live increasingly in the manner He has created me to.