• Karen Pennington

Don't Shoot the Operator

I spent a very, very long time on the phone today. At the end of over four hours of calls, hold time, transfers and referrals to other places, I still hadn't gotten what I needed. The whole phone scavenger hunt did eventually lead me to a place that could help; but that place happened to be closed today. Grrrr!!! (And yes, I did just text growl, the most accurate reflection of how I felt at the time.)


I'm happy to report that I did not yell at any of the phone center employees who had failed to meet my needs. But I really, really wanted to. As the morning progressed, I got more and more anxious, more obsessed with fixing the problem. And when this role of self-reliance did not work, I became hostess to a grand pity party wherein I played several rounds of "The Blame Game." I blamed the people whom I believe had caused the problem and the people on the other end of the phone who could not help solve it. I even began to blame God a little for letting this all happen. In case you are wondering, it was not a fun party, and no one won the game.


To be honest, it was a pretty cruddy day. To be more honest, I was the biggest reason why it did not go so well. I had so very many reasons to feel thankful and blessed today. I got to spend time with my daughter and had a nice long conversation with my loving, dead sexy husband. I am in a safe, comfortable environment that more than meets my basic needs. And several friends today offered me various forms of love, encouragement and support, even though I complained and fussed for most of the day. God's grace and favor abound in my life.


Philippians 4:6-8 offers some simple, beautiful advice about how to reach and maintain that beautiful "sweet spot" of peace no matter what the circumstances:


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."


We crazy humans can drive ourselves insane trying to figure out and understand things. But God's peace supersedes the understanding. God will tell us what we need, but we can rest in the knowledge God will work out what we can't. That leaves us free to focus on the truth of who God is and rehearse God's blessings, a form or worship that only brings more joy and peace.


I took a different path this morning. I sort of hijacked my own joy by focusing on the things that I could not control, seeking my own answers over God's blessings. Then I put unfair expectations on others, expectations that only God could fulfill. No matter what information they could or could not give me, only God could have given me peace, and I could have claimed that without making a single phone call.


Thankfully, tomorrow is a new day, and our God is a God of grace. I still need to make some of those phone calls, but tonight and tomorrow I choose to accept God's love and peace and joy, no matter what the person on the other end of the line has to say.

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