I’m writing this to you all the day of and shook. I was cat sitting at my aunt’s house and stepped into the garage to throw something away in the garbage can. As I lifted the lid of the garbage can, I heard the swift, yet gentle closing of the house door behind me. I winced, turned around, and tried the door handle. Locked.
Okayyy. I assessed the situation. I was in the garage. Locked in the garage. I had no keys, no phone, no purse. It was just me. And tools. I had no idea if my aunt had a spare key and no way to ask her. I opened the garage door to let some fresh air come in and sat at the doorstep of a lovely and locked abode.
Think, think, think. What do I do, Lord? I’m locked out. With no phone. And whose numbers do I know? How would I call? Where do I go?
It’s astounding how quickly one can feel completely lost and helpless. I went to the front door and saw the umbrella I had left outside. Okay, now it was me and an umbrella. I walked up to my aunt’s outdoor security cameras and explained to her the situation. My hope was that she would watch the video from where she was and somehow contact someone who could come help me out.
I was expected at a friend’s house for dinner and didn’t have much time to wait around for the cavalry… so, I grabbed my umbrella, closed the garage door, and headed out to find assistance. It’s a Sunday… offices are closed, so I thought, What’s open? CHURCHES! I’m a believer and believers are supposed to help everybody… so, I’ll go to church!
I walked down the street and around the corner to an Episcopal church I’d driven by hundreds of times. I had no idea what to expect and felt so helpless and out of place. It was weird. As I walked, I recited numbers I knew. I had my mom, my aunt, and my roommate’s numbers memorized and kept chanting them in my head, terrified that I’d forget. Two of the people’s numbers I knew were out of the country… not too helpful. And my roommate was at work. It was going to be a toss up.
I approached the church and stood under the porte cochere because it was starting to rain. People entered and left the building, but no one really greeted me or inquired as to why in the midst of all these dressed up people there was a young adult female in yoga pants, a large Springsteen t-shirt, and an umbrella.
The courage it took me to muster to ask someone if I could use their phone is sad, y’all. But it takes courage to ask complete strangers if you can use their phone! You don’t want to feel like a psycho! Two girls were coming out of the church and I asked if they had a church office. They didn’t, but one of the girls graciously let me use her phone to call my three contacts and attempt to sign into every social media account (which I couldn’t remember the passwords to any of them). She had to leave with her family, so she passed me off to her brother who was staying at the church longer. He, then, graciously let me use his phone to call my three contacts and attempt to sign into my social media accounts again. All fails. I texted my roommate my predicament and location, then asked her to let my dinner friends know I was alive and see if they could pick me up. After that, I looked at the brother and was like, well, I don’t know what else to do. The brother said he’d come out and let me know if my roommate responded.
After all that was done, I had nothing else to do. I sat down and… sat. I had missed dinner at my friend’s house, so I was pretty certain they believed me to be dead. There was no way for me to tell them otherwise. I opened my umbrella. Closed my umbrella. Twirled it around. That took up about 30 seconds of my time. Then, I sat some more.
May I invite you into the fantasy of what I thought my trip to the church was going to be like? In my head, I walk up to the church and ask where the church office is. A very helpful person leads me to the church office, listens to my story, and invites me to use their phone and computer to get a hold of someone. They are invested in my journey, are concerned for my welfare, and ask me how they can help. Maybe offer to buy me an Uber ride so I can get to my friend’s house and receive help from there. Oh, and while I wait, would I care for some coffee or a bottled water?
That’s what I had imagined. My reality was a heavy rain, a porte cochere, and the church people passing by me with polite smiles, places to get to and people to see. My two phone people had left. I wasn’t sure if the brother had completely forgotten about me or if my roommate’s work was so busy that she hadn’t seen my texts.
Let me tell you how easy it was to feel sorry for myself. It was about instantaneous. I could feel the tears welling up, the why me chorus warming up their vocals, and the dread of being part of a late-night-city-gang-fight-under-a-porte-cochere later. What kind of damage could I do with an umbrella? 🤔
I remembered what I had read in my counseling text book the day before. We, as people, develop “must” and “should” messages throughout our lives that we don’t even know we have. Things like, “People must treat me fairly and if they don’t it’s absolutely awful and the end of the world!” Instead, we need to change up the language. For example, “I’d like people to treat me fairly, but if they don’t, it’s an inconvenience.” It’s less dramatic and more reasonable.
So, I tried it out in my situation. My initial statement was something like… “I can’t believe this is happening to me. I must get a hold of someone and get out of this predicament immediately or else all hope is lost and my day has been completely wasted.” I tried a different statement out. “It’s unfortunate that I locked myself out of my aunt’s house. I’d like for someone to respond to my messages for help, but if they don’t and I’m stuck out here longer, it’s an inconvenience. I know that God is sovereign and He can handle the who, the how, and the when. I’m going to be okay.”
It changed my perspective so fast. I sat against a column of the porte cochere and watched the rain. The church had a pretty courtyard area and it felt safe to be there. I thought about what I could do with the time and realized I could think through some details of a ministry I’m currently developing. It has been consistently placed on the back burner due to school, but since all my school stuff was locked away at my aunt’s house and I didn’t have a phone… I was able to free up some thinking space. My situation was pretty relevant and helpful to a portion of the training materials I have been stuck on for awhile.
I sat for a total of an hour and a half (I found out later since I didn’t have a way to tell time…) and saw a familiar car pull up. It was the two girls that had originally let me use their phone when I had first walked up to the church. One girl got out and said she had been asked to come back to the church to help out with something. Her friend came with her to check on me because she felt like something wasn’t right. She asked me if I needed a ride somewhere. I was elated! As I got into her car, she let me use her phone one more time to try and contact someone. I texted my aunt and she texted back immediately! There was a spare key and she gave me all the information I needed to retrieve it. 🙌 As this was happening, the brother came outside and said my roommate had just responded. It was like God opened all my channels of communication at once and got me exactly what I needed. He knows the who. He knows the how. And He knows the when.
The girl drove me around the corner to my aunt’s house and said it was nice meeting me and she was glad I was able to get in the house. I was glad too! My aunt had also seen the security camera footage I had done at the beginning and called her neighbor. He came out as I pulled up and helped me find the spare key. Guess where the spare key was? IN THE GARAGE. 🤦🏼♀️
I know everything happens for a reason. I’m sure I’ll be seeing life lessons in this experience for a good while, but here are some lessons I gathered today:
- Memorize SIX people’s phone numbers. You never know what’s going to happen.
- Don’t let a door close on you.
- As a Christian, be watchful for opportunities to help.
- Rest in the sovereignty of God.
Looking back on the day, the fantasy I had as I walked up to the church should have also been my reality. It’s tough asking people for help. It’s tough stepping into the doors of a church building without being invited. I was literally at the entrance to a church and was not invited in by one person. It’s hard to know who is a friend or foe these days, but it can’t hurt to ask some simple questions. If someone looks like they’re lost, new, or needy… it’s probably because they’re lost, new, or needy. Take the opportunity to show the love of Christ before even speaking a word of the gospel. Caring and hospitality speak volumes! I’m happy to say I go to a church where I do believe my fantasy would have been reality. I pray I’m right. I will say that I’m going to be testing myself from now on, at least. I know what it’s like to be the person with nothing to their name. Goodness. It’s not a great feeling.
Thankfully, everything worked out for me and I was only out of the game for a couple of hours. Praise God! Did I learn some unexpected lessons today? Yes. But hey, it’s part of the grand adventure with God. You never know what each day you’re given is going to be like and that’s what makes it an adventure! Enjoy and please, memorize six people’s phone numbers.