It felt like football minutes for her to come back into the building. I often refer to time in that way to indicate when something should go quickly, but then it feels like it takes so much longer. It was one of those parenting moments when your child is involved, and you have to sit it out.
I had taken her to all of her behind-the-wheel classes, took her to pass the permit test, which was a bit of a nail biter even though she passed with flying colors, hired a private company to take her out on the road, spent time going on back roads that I was familiar with so we wouldn’t get lost. Because with me in the passenger seat, it’s a given. Getting lost comes by me easily.
I sat in the area designated for those of us who are not good at staving off panic attacks. I had no one around to help distract or offset my overthinking. Usually, if I can find someone to talk to, I get so wrapped in their life story that I forget where I am—no such luck. I had to wait with me, and I am not the best person to keep myself company.
The window was behind me, and I was tempted to look out and see which section of the test she was on. But then again, I didn’t want to. She was going to pass, and I had to settle it in my mind. These are the moments when I can pray, and God takes over, helping me not count the seconds dragging by.
It is said that time is an illusion. Try using that as an excuse when someone expects you at a specific appointment. Our lives are structured heavily by the clock.
Before I opened my eyes, I knew my furnace had stopped working. Under multiple blankets, the only visible part of me was my face, and I could tell by the frigid air that something had gone amiss. It wasn’t yet the dead middle of winter, but the temperature was starting to drop at night more and more.
I knew what I had to do next because I had to do it so many times before. I have lived in this house long enough that I know all of its quirks. Every other year, this would happen, and there was a reset switch that if I flicked it off and on, crossed all my fingers, and held my breath, it might come back on again. If not, I would have to call the gas company to send someone out.
I have every single appliance covered under their repair plan in case I had something like this happen. At first, it was an excellent service, but it has not been as great over the years. What used to be a one-day wait has become a week unless it is an emergency—a water heater blowing up, for example. Freezing to death isn’t a huge priority to them.
“We can schedule this for tomorrow,” the representative said.
“What time?” I asked, somewhat surprised that this was going to happen so quickly.
“My computer won’t show me a time, but I can see that I have it confirmed for you.”
“So anytime between when the sun comes up and when it goes down?”
“Pretty much. We will send an email confirmation to you so you will then know a more specific time.”
I received no such thing, so I called back in the morning by eight a.m. to verify.
“Yes. We have you in the system as having a furnace appointment today, but I cannot give you an exact arrival time. My computer isn’t letting me do that.”
So, I became a prisoner in my own home. I tried to preoccupy myself and not pay attention to the ticking clock. After four hours, I called them again.
“It says right here that you are on the schedule. I am sure someone will be out to you shortly.”
Another four hours went by.
“Christine? Can you hold?”
Like my whole life wasn’t already on one. After a few moments,
“I found you, and you are on the list for today. But, I cannot give you a time.”
Every time I called in to ask, I got a different person. I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right, and I wanted to get out of sitting around if that was the case. I was okay with not having anything done that day, but I needed someone to say it.
Once six o’clock rolled by, and then eight, I called again.
“We have you..”
“Right on the list…I know. Are you sure? Is someone going to come here?”
“Yes. We have technicians out until midnight sometimes. Be sure to turn on your outside lights when it gets dark so our employee can see that you are still waiting. We have had some customers not do that, so it appears they have gone to bed.”
“Okay,” I said, still trusting them.
At ten, I was getting more skeptical. I was feeling stood up. So, I called again.
“Is this an emergency?” I now was getting the after-hours help.
“Not really, but yes. I have no heat, and I have been waiting for someone to show up all day. I have asked if anyone is coming, and I keep being told that I am on the schedule. What can you tell me?”
“Do you have a space heater?”
That was the first crack in the solid foundation of lies they had told me all day long.
“I have ways to stay warm. I just want to know if someone is showing up here at this address on this day.”
“You are scheduled. It says it right here.”
“I know it says that. But, is it true?”
“If someone doesn’t show up by midnight, then call back.”
Two hours later, I was back on the phone.
“Can you see how many times I have called in today and for what reason?” I asked.
“Yes, Christine. I can see that.”
“So, it shows that I have waited all day, and I have been told that I would get help?”
“And, now it is midnight, so now what? My problem has not been resolved.”
I was trying to focus on my breathing. I had lost count of how many others I had spoken to, and to take out my frustration on this one would not have been fair.
“All of our technicians go home by eight. So, who told you that you had to wait until midnight? That was wrong information.”
Breathing. Inhale, exhale.
“I am not sure.”
“Let me see what I can do. I need to put you on a brief hold.”
I wanted to scream into the nearest pillow.
Who else would it be?
“I can have someone come right away in the morning tomorrow.”
Did tomorrow mean the next day or a week, a month, or never?
“How certain are you of this?”
“I am putting you in as a priority. Someone will be there right at eight.”
“Morning or night?”
I hung up, still not fully believing it was going to happen. I decided to send customer service a note explaining what had occurred.
I got up the next day, and soon, I heard the familiar beep of a truck backing up into my driveway.
When he walked in, I explained what had happened the day before.
“Who told you that someone would be here at midnight? We never do that unless it is way below zero. We aren’t there yet.”
After he left, I was never so glad to have my freedom back. And a warm house. I ended up getting two months of no payment on my bill for my trouble.
While I was in the midst of the dilemma, it seemed like it lasted forever. When I think about it now, I just see the result. It was a hassle not to do what I wanted for an entire day because I was confined to my residence, but I did end up getting what I had asked for, just not when I thought I would.
That has happened to me when I have prayed, and I have had to be patient for an answer. They aren’t always instantaneous. We are accustomed to microwave minutes, not slow cook.
When something doesn’t come as quickly as presumed, it can be easy to lose faith and trust in God. In Lamentations 3:25, there is this promise,
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s good to hope and hope for God’s help quietly. (Message)
It says it is ‘good,’ but it doesn’t always seem that way. While I was writing this, a page wouldn’t load due to a slow internet connection. While I was repeatedly hitting the enter button, I became aware of that. God will take every opportunity to have patience become more robust in you through any means possible.
During the ‘hangtime,’ I often have to go back and review what has been done for me in the past. Sometimes, we find ourselves finally thinking about what has been done on our behalf in the most uncomfortable moments. You begin to realize the faithfulness of heaven, and maybe that is its purpose because everything happens for a reason.
You will see clearly where you have come from and where you want to go while you wait.