Sunday, July 14, 2019

Not Letting a Bad Experience Define Your Future

We have three families on our aviation team.  This week the wives decided to go out for lunch.  Something we don't do as often as we should.  Our husbands carpooled to work so we would have a car.  I volunteered to drive since I have the most experience with a manual vehicle and also a Liberian driver's license.  

I rarely drive off of the compound because when I go off campus, my husband and I are usually together.  Driving here makes me nervous.  The traffic is crazy.  People don't follow the rules, and you have to be on high alert so you don't hit one of the motorcycles or tuk tuks that swing in and out of traffic.  The last time I drove to go shopping with a friend, my fitbit recorded it as a cardio workout.    But we were overdue for an outing and I was up for the challenge especially since this year for fearing less.



In the midst of a rainy week, the day of our outing was sunny and beautiful.  After picking up the other ladies, we were on our way.  Traffic was slower than usual.  As we got closer to our next turn, I saw that the slowdown was due to a police checkpoint.  I wasn't too worried.  The police usually let our organization's cars go on through but even if they did't our papers are always in order.  But  I was not surprised when we were pulled aside and the policeman asked for my driver's license and the car's fire extinguisher certificate.  Yep.  We are required to have a fire extinguisher in our car and with a certificate that says it is up to date and in working order from the fire department.  But remember, I said our papers are always in order.  This time they weren't.  The required paper was no where in the folder.  I called my husband thinking I was looking in the wrong place.  Nope.  To make a long story short, I didn't have the right paper.  By accident, it had been left out.  Through the grace of God, the help of a local staff person on the phone with our officer, and the officer realizing that we would just wait til the paper arrived, we were allowed to proceed to our lunch.  

We ate a wonderful lunch, shopped, and drove home without any problems.  Back at home, I breathed deep and thought about having a good cry.  Then the lies crept in. Maybe you shouldn't go out with your friends again like that.  I bet the police will stop you every time.  Is it worth it?  Do you really like living here?  Thankfully, the truth put up a fight.  I was not alone at that stop.  Both wives were active in helping me talk to the policeman and talking on the phone to my husband and staff.  I live in a country where we have traffic checks, but they were asking me to follow one of their rules.  I just happened to have the one car that was missing a needed paper even if the needed paper seemed silly.  One of my friends lived in a country where the policeman would get in your car and not leave until you paid them a bribe. Our policeman was doing his job.  This was minor, basically an inconvenience.  This one incident didn't need to define future outings.  In fact, two days later I drove without incident and with all the correct papers to meet my husband in town for a lunch date.  For some, it would have been no big deal.  For me, it was a small victory in fearing less.

For me, it is easy to let a bad experience taint how I act in the future. Maybe a friend stood you up, does that mean you never invite her out for lunch again?  Maybe you attend a new bible study and no one reaches out to you, do you at least give it one more try?  Maybe you gave someone money for a need to find out later that they didn't have that need, do you never give money out again? I want to be a person that doesn't get derailed by minor things.  I don't want to be offended easily by what others say.  I don't want to miss out on a great friendship or fun experience because of a minor incident or misunderstanding.  

I understand that my traffic stop was more of inconvenience than a bad experience.  The world is full of bad experiences causing serious that require stepping back, setting boundaries, and seeking healing.  If this is you, I am sorry that you have to go through that.  I pray that God will give you the support and help you need to not let this experience keep you from what God has for you.  

What is a bad experience that you have had lately?  How did it affect you?  How did you see God working in that situation in your life?

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