Lesson in the Loop

Ever wish you could hit rewind on some day, hour, or minute of your life? It happened to me just yesterday.

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I flew to Phoenix at the invitation of a writer-friend to spend a week with her writing in the sun instead of the snow. We flew separately and had agreed to meet in the rental car terminal just a few minutes away from the airport by shuttle. I arrived in terminal two, collected my checked bag in record time and jumped on the shuttle, which seemed to be just waiting for me. Well that was smooth, I thought, as I settled myself and my carry-on-bag on the little bus. Then the light bulb went on and I realized my mistake. How could I be so dense?

I had pulled my other bag off the carousel, texted my friend to let her know I had arrived, and then walked away pulling my carry on piece and leaving the other bag behind. While I was on a one way trip to the rental car terminal, my suitcase was standing pathetically by itself beside a luggage carousel in terminal 2 like an abandoned puppy on the side of road.

My brain was immediately attacked by several different self-destructive cognitive monsters. They were Panic, Shame, Self-deprecation and Fear to name a few. As the shuttle resolutely bore me away from my bag, I did my best to ignore the monsters and took the only action I could. I prayed that God would place a couple of burly angels around that suitcase and keep it safe for me until I could get back to claim it.

How desperately I wanted to hit rewind at that moment. To quickly retrace my steps, erase my mistake with all its potential consequences, and start over. But I knew as well as you do that there is no rewind in life.

But there is redemption. Arriving on the heals of the monsters came a call to my cell phone. Turns out my angels were named Jason, from airport security and John from the airport detachment of the Phoenix Police Department. Jason was standing beside my suitcase until John arrived to take it to the lost and found near terminal two.

I jumped off the shuttle at the rental car terminal and breathlessly asked directions to the bus that would take me back to the scene of my blonde moment. In minutes I was continuing the loop that would reunite me with my dear suitcase. Here is the lesson in the loop: we can’t rewind to undo our mistakes. There is no going back. But we can move forward. How? First, by refusing to be paralyzed by shame, self pity and fear. Only then can we take forward redemptive steps to right the wrongs, repair the damage, or at least bring meaning to them. Secondly, we need to look for the lessons God has for us in the mess. Third, we have to obey him when he asks us to swallow our pride and ask for forgiveness, make restitution, or take responsibility for the harm our mistakes have caused. Then we can live the rest of our lives with the wisdom, sensitivity, and humility of one who has made mistakes, but fought the monsters, and won.

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