On February 23rd (which is today as I write this blog), my wife and I should be enjoying a very nice dinner at an all-inclusive resort in the fabulous Mexican Riviera Maya.We were to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. This was to be a time where we would reflect on the last 30 years, both the good and the bad. Our marriage hasn’t always been easy, but it hasn’t always been hard either. Through the grace of God and hard work from each of us, we have taken challenging situations and turned it into a wonderful union. Regardless, 30 years is cause for celebration!
White sands, blue water, 80-degree temperatures and a high UV-Index…SHHHHHH, I can feel the sun on my face and hear the waves crashing. Well, that’s what we should be experiencing…but something horrible happened!
MY passport did not have 6 months validity past the day of return.
I looked at my passport several times throughout the last few months and I never snapped to it. Marlene (my wife) and I got my passport out of the safe a couple of weeks ago and thought we were good to go. We ASSUMED everything was good. Here’s the thing, my passport doesn’t expire until March 16th and we were to return on March 2nd. What’s the problem? As a last minute precaution, I decided to ensure that I didn’t need any other documentation before traveling. It was then that I noticed the requirement for a 6-month validity. Marlene began a frantic search for the truth and much to our dismay, we found it to be true!
I began to research options. One, I could expedite my renewal and go to the Regional Passport Center and spend the day in hopes of receiving my passport in time for travel. Or two, we could cancel the whole trip and get back a portion of the money already spent. The predicament was this; the deadline for the resort cancellation was the 19th (the same day we found out about the passport issue). So, if we did not cancel that day, we would lose the full payment, but if we cancelled by 6 pm on the 19th, we would only lose a 2-night penalty. After much discussion, research and prayer, we decided to cancel. This was very difficult and disappointing decision. Imagine being in Oklahoma and only days from spending 8 nights on the beach in Mexico! Come on, anyone would be saddened!
To make the best of the situation, Marlene and I identified some things we learned from the experience. After all, if you’re going to mess up, you should at least learn something.
We did learn some things. Here they are:
The following points are directly from Marlene-
- YOU NEVER “ARRIVE” -I thought I was beyond making this kind of mistake. The truth is, we are all susceptible to making careless errors.
- THERE ARE ALWAYS 3 FINGERS POINTING BACK AT YOU – Don’t be quick to look down on others if they don’t have what you consider to be your strong points. Again, just because I pride myself on being organized and on top of things, doesn’t mean some things don’t occasionally slip or “fall through the cracks.”
- I’M DISAPPOINTED! – There are times of disappointment. Be sad, but then put it into perspective. It’s a disappointment, not a tragedy.
When I came home, it was apparent that Marlene was disappointed and I could see she was dejected. Allow me however, to brag on her a bit. Even though it was a disappointing situation, she was not upset or hateful towards me. In fact, she was the complete opposite and tried to take responsibility herself. She felt liable in planning and working out the details of the trip. Although I truly believe I was responsible, her humility was appreciated.
Here is what I learned:
- PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL – You must pay attention to detail. Although I glanced at the passport several times, it never occurred to me to check the expiration date.
- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY – One of the worst things you can do when you make a mistake is point a finger at someone else. Not only does this make you look like you’re skirting around responsibility, but also deflecting ownership will put someone else undeservedly in the “hot seat.” As soon as an error is brought to your attention, accept responsibility in the situation (despite whether or not it could have been avoided). Examine the issue and rectify the situation.
- AVOID MAKING EXCUSES – Everyone has an excuse for things they’ve done wrong. Excuses don’t eradicate the fact that you made the mistake to begin with. Making an excuse isn’t any different than assigning the blame to someone or something else.
- FIX IT -Once you realize you’ve made a mistake and acknowledged it, take steps to fix it. My mistake wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility, but my own. I researched options to rectify the situation, but due to time constraints and the possibility of losing all our money, we chose to cancel the reservation altogether.
- LEARN FROM IT – It you don’t learn from your mistakes, you wasted a valuable and sometimes expensive opportunity. Marlene and I took a lot of time discussing what each of us could do to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future. We are in the process of renewing my passport and she has noted her own passport’s expiration date. In response, she has created a calendar notice to make sure her expiration date doesn’t slip past us unknowingly. Remember, every mistake is a valuable opportunity for self-improvement. Embrace the lesson learned and move forward.
- MOVE ON – It’s okay to be sad and disappointed. However, don’t dwell or hold grudges. YESTERDAY ENDED LAST NIGHT! The mistake has been made, acknowledged, fixed and learned from. Realize that mistakes are inevitable and underneath it all, they can be truly beneficial.
I think the biggest lesson learned from this fiasco was that while we were let down, this situation ultimately brought us closer together and made us both realize how easily errors are made. The way we respond and handle stressful situations determines the outcome.
Although we dream about being on the sand, enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean, great food and the overall culture of Mexico, we have sincerely moved on and feel at peace from what we’ve learned.
I love the couple that Marlene and I have become. There was a time in our early marriage where something like his would have involved blame and lasting grudges. However, with the leading of our Savior and the commitment we have made to one another, we were able to acknowledge our mistake and move on with a stronger marital bond.