When You Forget to Pack the Most Important Thing

By Annie Garman

Well, it happened.  

I have heard of it happening to others, but never imagined it would happen to me. 

Everything was packed and ready for our mission trip to Iceland.  I was taking a team from our church to Reykjavik to run an English camp for Icelandic children.  I had the lesson plans, construction paper, multi-leveled books, writing paper, stickers, small prizes, and had even remembered to bring extra staples in case we ran out.  My list had all been checked off and I was feeling pretty proud of myself. 

My husband and four kids dropped me off at Dulles airport and we had a long, emotional good-bye.  I pushed my smart cart up to the ticket counter and smiled at the Iceland Air representative.  While I was rummaging around in my purse for my wallet, she said casually, “Can I just see your passport?”

I screamed so loud that the people in line at Lufthansa looked over, alarmed.  My hands just covered my mouth and I kept saying, “Oh, Dear God, have mercy!”  After a few rounds of screams and hyperventilated “Lord have mercy’s”, I burst into tears and walked a few steps away, unable to process if this was actually happening in reality or a dream. 

She looked confused. 

“Do you want to at least check your bags?” she asked as people waited patiently behind me in line. 

My crying increased in intensity and despair. 

“No, I absolutely do not have it.  It didn’t even CROSS MY MIND to pack it.”  The Iceland Air workers looked at each other as they tried to fathom such a thing. 

“Can you go home and get it?”

“No…no, we live too far away.” 

There was no exception to this rule of needing a passport to travel internationally (Yes, I asked), so my husband got a phone call before he made it five miles down the road. 

My children looked confused as I climbed back into the car and announced sheepishly, “Mommy’s home!” 

Once a phone call was made and a flight was secured for the next night, my husband relaxed and the ride home was not as bad as one would think.  “STAPLES…I remembered STAPLES!” I kept reminding my husband as though that awarded me some amount of points.  He assured me that this experience would not be a waste and that many sermon illustrations would come out of it.  Oh, goody.

So here I sit, one week later, at the Icelandic airport waiting for my flight back home.  I’m reflecting on this costly mistake and trying to squeeze as many lessons out of it as I can. 

The main one that I keep coming back to is this:  It does not matter what we remember IF WE FORGET LOVE.

Isn’t that the most important thing that we shouldn’t forget?  There were 613 Old Testament laws and Jesus said, Just forget about those…I ONLY have ONE THING for you to remember.

Today I’m praying that this one makes it to the top of the to-do list.  Not only that, but gets etched so deeply onto the to-do list that it carves into the table I’m writing on (are you following me?).  

I’m praying that this one doesn’t get left behind in a forgotten suitcase when it’s the only one that matters. 

Okay, my flight is boarding, and you know my husband won’t be as forgiving if I miss THIS flight… Ladies, learn from my mistake.  

Published September 17, 2014

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Annie Garman

Annie and her husband Colby live in Northern Virginia where Colby serves as the teaching pastor of Pillar Church. Before their church ministry days, they served for two years as IMB missionaries in Iceland. Annie spends her days taking care of her four daughters, writing and ministering at her local church. She shares about motherhood, mayhem, and the meaning of life from a place of transparency at anniebgarman.com.