It was late in the evening when it happened. I had been in Europe for a while at this point and as you can imagine, I didn’t need any extra expenses in my life — you know that whole weak Canadian dollar thing. I was certain that I was driving 80 km/h in an 80-zone, but after seeing the speed camera my dear friend told me they were positive it was a 60-zone. My heart sunk — especially since this particular country is notorious for its intolerance for speeding.
20km/h over the limit in a rural area seems like no big deal, right? It sucked and all, but I accepted the fact that I’d have to admit I was speeding and pay a small fine. Then I searched the actual fines and suddenly found myself in denial and not willing to accept it anymore! I couldn’t believe it when I saw that it would cost $325 for my mistake — I wasn’t even having a good time speeding! Not that I have ever done that.
That night instantly became a restless one full of frustration, stress, and regret. I was certain it was an 80-zone, but I should’ve known better. I should’ve been smarter. I was in denial because I was so sure that I wasn’t in the wrong! I wasn’t working at the time and definitely didn’t need a ridiculous expense over such a silly mistake, but it happened. I ended up getting little sleep wondering if, just maybe, I was right in the first place and it was all a misunderstanding. I worried away my time and energy before sleep forced itself upon me.
The next morning was Sunday, so I left for church and took the same road that this all transpired on only hours earlier. My heart was racing as we approached the particular stretch of road in search of the speed limit signs. I saw it off in the distance and knew that any ounce of denial that was still hanging on within me would be squashed in a matter of seconds. Reality was approaching with each meter that closed the gap between the sign and I.
Then there it was — 80km/h.
I’m pretty sure, if I remember correctly, I started giggling with great joy and disbelief. I was right after all and my already dwindling bank account would live to see another day! Then it dawned on me. What a waste of an evening, what a waste of a good sleep, and what a waste of my emotional energy. Instead of accepting that I didn’t have the power to change what had happened, I worried and stressed.
This all reminds me of a quote I’ve heard many times from many sources, but it goes something like this: “Worry is a downpayment on a problem you may never have.” And ain’t that the truth. Even if I had been speeding and did receive the ticket, “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27)
It’s so easy to make those down payments. It’s so easy to worry and stress and long for control, but the reality is going to be what it is going to be. We can’t solve anything by worrying, we just spend the funds of our emotional bank accounts. Had I actually gotten the ticket, this would be a very different blog post, but the lesson would remain. Why lose sleep when we can trust God? Why lose sleep when we are powerless to change the situation?
I made a big downpayment that night on a problem I ended up never having, but at least that down payment taught me a valuable lesson about not making those down payments anymore!