“I just don’t feel like loving anyone,” I told Marnell one dismal day when I was feeling like my cell phone looks. “And I lose my temper and get anxious about stuff. I’m sure God doesn’t like me.”
And this was BEFORE I went to a cell phone store. Cell phone stores, I think, are designed by God as a way to examine our Christ-like character.
My phone. Most of the face is cracked, with the epicenter in the top right. I sometimes get little shards of glass in my hair or on my skin while holding the phone to my ear. The clear skin on the phone face holds most of the broken pieces in place, but two sizeable geometric shards are missing from the edge of the glass. They loosened from beneath the skin and fell out, exposing the skeleton and organs beneath. Sometimes when I press buttons, the face kind of caves in, like a heavy vehicle cracking the ice on a warming pond.
My phone also needs to be charged multiple times every day. I take a charger along to work because I could never make it through 9.5 hours on battery.
Marnell has thought I should get a new phone for a long time. I kept saying, “But, it still works!” It sends my voice and my messages and my images to where I want them to go.
Anyway, we went to Xfinity and picked out a phone (yellow, for a change) and then they tried to port my number from Sprint.
It didn’t work.
“It’s Sprint,” the young guy said. “They’re like that. They are locking your number.”
I called Sprint from a couch at Xfinity, explained I was leaving the company to try Xfinity, and that their system said that Sprint was locking the number.
“Your phone is locked because you need to pay $200 to end your lease,” the man said.
“I did that a year or two ago,” I said. “This is an old phone I’ve had for years.”
Pay $200 for this splintered thing when I already bought it once?
My blood boiled.
“See, when you have a lease, the phone belongs to the company until you buy it out.”
“I understand that perfectly, sir,” I said, my voice as brittle as fresh ice. “I’m saying I already did that.”
We had reached an impasse, and I was not sounding at all like First Corinthians 13.
I told him I would go home and look at my statements. The only good thing I said was, “I’m sorry I’m sounding so frustrated, I know it’s not your fault.”
I think I learned that line from Dr. Halloran, and I’m not exactly proud that I needed to use it.
On the way home, I was stewing. It was already the second fruitless trip to the Xfinity store. Also, I was afraid that Sprint was right. I had been dating and life was crazy and I probably thought I had done it but hadn’t.
Well, in the end, I found my statement. On August 1, 2017, right before Marnell asked me to marry him, I actually did one last sensible thing 😂 and ended the lease with a payment of $153.01. When I called Sprint again, they told me I was right, and that I owed nothing.
“But I would just stay with Sprint if I were you,” she said.
The next morning, I was sitting in my chair when I thought of Jesus and the splintered cracking people he came to redeem. The people he created perfect, with a free choice and they chose to be their own gods instead of following their Creator. The people who belonged to him, and left him, and how a price was required to buy those splintered people back.
People like me, who have shards snapping from their lips, and who get all hot under the collar when they are asked to pay for something twice.
You want me to suffer on a cross for those people? Jesus might have asked. You want me to buy THEM back?
But that’s not what Jesus did.
Instead, he picked up his pen, and wrote a check. In his own blood.
You know what’s just as amazing?
He wants to use us. He wants to use us to send his voice and his messages and his images to the people around us.
One of those dreadful Xfinity nights, when I was flunking God’s cell phone store character test, God actually used me.
Jen had come that afternoon and said they had canned goods but they didn’t have milk and bread and it’s about to get super cold and Harvey doesn’t get his check until Friday and could she have $5. I offered her food but we had no bread and anyway she really just wanted money. So I let her clean the porch for $5.
“That won’t be enough for bread,” she said.
As we stood at the store and waited for the number that would not port, I debated. They did have food, they just didn’t have bread and milk. They wouldn’t die without it. But finally I went out into the cold and across the street to Aldi and I loaded my arms with raisin bread and wheat bread and whole milk and chocolate milk.
After striking out at the cell phone store, I failed God’s character assessment by ranting loudly at Marnell.
“I’m sorry, I guess I’m frustrated and I didn’t eat enough today,” I sighed.
Oh, and he was hungry and had also just lost two hours of time on my phone and he wasn’t yelling back.
Exhausted tears formed in my eyes, as I reflected on my failures.
“I need to go to Harvey’s,” I said.
Marnell plowed through the fresh snow into the alley behind Harvey and Jen’s house.
I jumped out with the bag, and hurried up the walk. I started cautiously up the tottering stairs. Somehow, the eaves drip water onto the steps. The temperature had been above freezing for a few hours, just enough to ice the narrow wood planks. It was already colder, with a bitter wind. The arctic blast was on its way.
I made it up the steps without slipping, past the ceramic cats, and knocked.
“I brought you some bread and milk,” I hollered, knocking.
“Who is it?” I heard Harvey’s voice.
“Katrina!” I hollered back. “I brought you some bread and milk.”
The door opened with a cough, and Harvey stared at me like a specter, his face gaunt inside his mane of wild gray hair.
Oh. That’s right. These are people who really might die, and for whom bread and milk really might make a difference.
“Bread and milk,” I said. “It’s going to get cold. You need some sustenance.”
“Thank you so much!”
“Marnell’s waiting for me, so I’m going to run,” I said.
“Thank you, Katrina!” Jen’s voice quavered from the background.
I stepped carefully down the iced stairs and hurried out to the car. It was freezing, but something like hot chocolate pooled around my heart and I found the feeling of love had followed the action of love.
I don’t tell that story to say it’s okay to snap at your husband if you do nice things for your neighbors. I tell that story to say, isn’t it amazing that God doesn’t just buy us back to buy us back? He buys us back to use us to spread His voice and message! Even when we aren’t getting everything right. Maybe, even at our best we aren’t ever getting everything right.
I do hope to get a new phone, and maybe sometime I will pass God’s character test and be upgraded to a shinier model as well. Although I have a hunch there will always be a new test, as we walk with God and change from glory to glory.
But God still buys people back, as is. He buys us the broken, who need frequent charging. He still chooses us to spread His message, and sometimes His milk and bread.
Items of business:
- The moon survey came out a little different than 50-50! As of this moment, 222 people voted. Yes, I would go to the moon was selected by 32%, and No, I would not go to the moon was chosen by the other 68%. Our kind host this weekend, Dennis Yoder, pointed out that probably more women than men read my blog and therefore it is skewed toward “no”. He might be right! Although I think in my first survey at Faith Builders, women were 50-50 on that question.
- I don’t know if it’s good or bad to have two favorite merchants back to back, but I’m excited about Merchant Monday for this week, too. Hint: prepare for a cuteness overload that is available to your home printer in an instant. Second hint: Remember our winter wedding invitations below? The same person who made our delightful wedding stationery is the creator. Third hint: she lives on Laurel Street and has a couch I really love. Don’t miss it! There will be a chance to win something cool!