Don’t Freak Out

As I packed for South Carolina last Wednesday night, panic seized me.

“Will you bring my new driver’s license with you?” Zach, who’s on TDY, asked.

“Of course!” I said. I knew exactly where it was. I’m the queen of organization, the OCD filer of the family. I have a system for everything.

Yes, that beautiful new driver’s license was in the giant pile of mail I’ve maintained throughout our nomadic summer.

I flipped through letters and bills and magazines. I flipped through that old stack of envelopes a second time. And a third time.

Where was that driver’s license?

And the dadgum car title, for that matter?

The church helped me move into The Parsonage last Saturday and in the shuffle, I somehow lost track of these vital items. How on earth did I lose track? I never misplace items of great importance. That Bath and Body Works bag that’s held our mail all summer was pretty stuffed. Maybe in the chaos I had placed the missing documents in my suitcase. Or a box.

Worry rattled me as I tore through box after box, and bag after bag. The midnight hour overcame me. I brushed my teeth and retraced very step in my mind. Exhausted, I fell into bed and pleaded to know where that stinking driver’s license was. And that dang car title.

Do they fine you a million dollars and take you to jail for misplacing things like that?

Thursday morning, the reality of my predicament hit me. I had to tell Zach. And I had to solve the mystery of the vanished documents before flying out on Friday. I felt like the woman with the lost coin.

She has ten, but loses one. Just one silver coin. She turns her house upside down and inside out looking for it. In the same way that Christ searches for the lost, she did not stop searching for that lost coin until it was found (Luke 15:8-10).

Instead of pleading to find what I had lost, I prayed a prayer born of the Holy Spirit. “Thank you, Lord, that I’ve misplaced Zach’s driver’s license and the car title. It’s not fun not knowing where they are, but I’m reminded now of my great need for you.”

I was still frustrated with myself. I still strove to remember where I’d placed those items. But my new perspective on my predicament ushered in peace. God was using this awful problem to grow my faith. My weak and worn faith.

A song played on the radio that evening as I waited in traffic. It’s a cutesy Christian song about the trivial, first-world problems that drive us up the wall. Two verses especially resonated with me. Francesca Battistelli sings, “In the middle of my little mess/ I forget how big I’m blessed,” and:

It might not be what I would choose

But this is the stuff You use

To break me of impatience

Conquer my frustrations

I’ve got a new appreciation

It’s not the end of the world

Oh, panicking at midnight over lost documents feels like the end of the world, but it’s not. In the midst of worrying and freaking out, I forget that these little mishaps are what God uses to remind us of our need for him. To never lose things is not the point. To have you “stuff” together in life is not the point. That I’ll lose track of something again is highly likely. What matters is that I don’t freak out, but pray it out. What matters is turning to God and asking for help, and asking for a more Christ-centered focus.

But thanking God for trouble is so unnatural. We have to train our brains to pause long enough in their worry to consider what God might be up to.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for using even the small things to teach us the big, eternal things. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Ps: I finally did find Zach’s driver’s license and car title! (And I think I need to refine my “fool-proof” organization skills.)

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