A couple months ago, my husband and I booked a cruise for our family vacation and we set sail this Saturday. I had planned to get my children’s passports renewed, but since every passport office in the northern hemisphere had no available appointments for months, I conceded to just rely on birth certificates and drivers licenses for boarding documents.
Which would have worked fine…. had we not been robbed Saturday night!
Since my two daughters have taken our garage hostage due to working on some wood and craft projects, all of our cars were parked in the driveway, apparently unlocked by accident. After searching for their purses on Sunday which were both mysteriously MIA, we finally determined they had been stolen.
I immediately called the bank and cancelled debit cards; then after assessing the thieves had stolen hundreds of dollars of stuff, I also called the police. While talking with the officer who came to our home to file a report and get the estimated value of stolen items, one particularly disturbing aspect of this new situation hit me like a ton of bricks.
Although Kaitlyn’s wallet was in the house at the time of the robbery, Morgan’s was in the car – stolen. She now had no identification. No drivers license. No picture ID. Nothing with her name on it. All she had left was left was a pretty face and her word that she is who she says she is. But cruise boats, like airlines, kinda want you to prove who you are before you are allowed to board. Yet, now she had no proof of identity.
Needless to say, with our vacation just a few days away, I erupted into a full blown panic. Sleep escaped me all night long, and I fervently prayed for God to somehow make this work out. The next morning I watched the clock with nervous impatience, waiting for it to read exactly 8:00am so I could begin my series of frantic phone calls.
But the DMV couldn’t help us, nor did they care about our emergency. The post office still couldn’t work us in for an appointment. The cruise line had no advice and told me to call Homeland Security. Homeland Security said that a copy of a license and an expired passport might be sufficient to board, but couldn’t guarantee it. So my worries continued, and my stress level rose.
After multiple phone calls and an intensive internet search, we conceded that an emergency passport was the only option, even though getting it purchased and expedited in 3 days was going to cost more than my first car.
More panic. Not a happy camper. Mad at the obviously lost and broken person or persons who stole from us as if they had a right to our belongings. Mad that these people had caused so many problems for us. And wishing I could get my hands on them. (I know that’s not a Godly thought, just keepin it real.) Feeling a bit violated and insecure, knowing that they now had keys to our house and cars.
After an hour of gathering and printing all the necessary documents, we drove over an hour to a Clerk of Court office in another state, which took walk-ins for passport renewals. Upon entering the office, I stepped in behind a long line of people, and stood in line for over an hour. All the while knowing that when I left there, I would have to drive another hour to an expediting office. I let out a heavy sigh, pulled out my phone and began looking at Facebook. Anything to take my mind off of this day.
Glancing over my FB notifications, I noticed someone had posted a quote from my new book and tagged me in it. I clicked on the link, and as I read the words, I felt like I’d hit been hit with a ton of bricks once again – but this time the impact brought peace, instead of panic.
You see, I was stressing big-time over this situation (as if you hadn’t figured that out already), even though I had tried to turn it over to God. I was frustrated, annoyed and angry. Between my emotions and all the “what-ifs” swirling in my mind, peace and trusting God had flown out the window faster than those thieves probably left our driveway.
Here was the quote I read that morning on Facebook:
“Peace is the ability to rise above our circumstances, overcome our innate tendency to stress out over problems, and learn to remain calm and confident despite what is going on around us. That is real peace — a peace based on Christ, not on people or circumstances. A peace based on a quieted heart, not on a quiet house. A peace based on trusting God in all things, not just the easy things we can handle with no problem. A peace that is present in our hearts, even when our entire life is overflowing with chaos. That kind of peace only Jesus can give, and, once we get a taste of that kind of peace, we are never the same again.” Tracie Miles, Stressed-Less Living
Was I rising above my circumstances and overcoming the tendency to stress out about this sudden problem? Nope.
Had I remained calm and confident in the face of this problem? Nope.
Had I maintained peace instead of allowing people and circumstances to steal it? Nope.
Was I trusting God with this problem that seemed out of my control? Nope.
Did I have a peace present in my heart in the midst of all the chaos? Nope.
I laughed out loud. At myself. At my behavior and how stress had hit me like a freight train that jumped off the track and landed right on top of me. At how I had to answer “nope” to every question. At the fact that God was using my own words to speak peace into my heart.
How quickly we can forget to seek God’s peace when life throws us a curve ball, even when we think we have our act together. So I took a long deep breath and vowed in that moment to trust God in this situation, and stop stressing over it like a crazy person – which wasn’t doing anything except making my blood pressure rise and making things worse anyway.
The stress of this theft situation pales in comparison to the stress of serious, ongoing problems and challenges, but it certainly served as a reminder of how life changes in an instant, and how our minds need to stay focused on God every day, so that we will be able to deal with whatever happens by resting in His peace and trusting that He has things under control.
Maybe you are right in the midst of a serious and difficult situation right now, and you have been so stressed and panicked about it that if you asked yourself the questions above – your honest answers might be “nope” as well. Maybe today is the day to begin answering yes instead.
God quietly reminded me in a noisy, crowded passport office that I had a choice to make right then and there. I could continue to panic and be mad and upset. Or I could stop stressing, and ask Him to fill with me the exact measure of peace I needed in that moment. I could stress over the issue, or trust that He would help it work out.
Just because a thief stole our belongings, didn’t mean I had to let him steal my peace as well. That was my choice.
I could choose panic, or I could choose peace.
I chose peace.
What will you choose today?