As my phone dropped to the ground all I could manage to say was “of course.” The shattered iPhone screen was the last step in officially making Monday not my day. I tried to call my mom and express my frustration at this “horrible no good day” but the damage to my phone made it impossible for her to hear me… “of course.” I stood gathering myself. After a difficult morning I was about to enter another tough situation. It seems like Monday was meant to be a comedy of errors. You know the kind of day that you really should allow Ben Stiller to play you in a movie version. Most Ben Stiller movies have him encountering one mishap after another. I could relate. Everything was going wrong. My phone was just the last straw.
I had spent the morning waiting for Michelle one of the folks that goes to my church who has become a dear friend go through surgery. She was having a surgery related to the battle she had with breast cancer four years ago. She noticed an infection with her reconstruction last week. Thankfully through antibiotics and surgery she will be on the mend soon. The surgery went well; although it had been more complicated than the Drs originally were expecting. It took a little longer than we both expected. I was so glad to see her face in the recovery room. I was worried when the surgeon didn’t come out after the expected hour. Thankfully when he came out the news was good and I was able to sigh a sigh of relief. I was however still anxious.
My phone broke just as I was headed into the hospital waiting room to hold vigil and hope for one of my best friends, Jerry. I met Jerry through church work eight years ago. He and I worked on a camp staff together. He later was one of the most faithful youth volunteers I have ever had. Jerry also happens to be one of the funniest humans I have ever known. On Monday he was going through a very intense surgery to receive the mechanical heart that will give him life as he waits for a heart transplant.
I was supposed to go directly from Michelle’s surgery to LA (an hour away) and sit and wait for Jerry’s surgery. After getting Michelle home to her family, I headed toward LA filled with anxiety. On my way, a dashboard light came on in my car- I was already worried about getting to LA on time and now my car was acting up “of course.” As I went to plug my phone into the stereo all of a sudden the cord that is most definitely an iPhone cord (purchased last week from a real live genius) stopped working and stopped charging the phone. The screen of my iPhone declared that this was “not an apple cord.” “Of course” my cord was acting up today of all days. The fact that it wasn’t charging was a bummer. I had been on the phone most of the morning chatting with my office about church work, and talking to Michelle’s husband and other family members updating them on progress and status. I was running low on juice. Worse than no charging, I no longer could hear music from my iPhone through the stereo. No cord meant no syncing with my car stereo. Music is how I clear my head. The commercials found on most stations as well as the music selection usually don’t work for me. The prospect of going without music was a let down. At that moment I looked into my rear view mirror and noticed my right eye was completely blood shot “of course.” I hadn’t slept much the night before which I think caused my eye to look like I was a pink eye victim. Oh no! I was about to enter an area of the hospital that they have to keep sterile and here I was looking like I have pink eye. This day seemed to be one little thing after the next that just wasn’t going well.
I headed into the waiting room, broken phone in hand, and that is when I saw it- the image that turned the whole day around. There wrapped in the prayer shawl our church had sent for Jerry was Jerry’s amazing mom Selena. She was clinging to the cross that I had brought Jerry to hold onto when times got tough. Here she was comforted by the things that represented the church community and Christ. She shared with me that holding them brought her great relief “of course.” She and I sat together along with another one of Jerry’s great friends and most of his very large family. We sat together in this darkest of times and we laughed, hugged, and had moments of silence that strangely held comfort. All because we were together, and because we knew Christ was with us “of course.” In the silence I thought back over my “horrible no good day” and I couldn’t help but laugh at all the little things that went wrong, and all the big things that went right. I think that is what community can help us do. Community can remind us of the reality of God’s presence during those horrible days.
I am so thankful on days like this that I am a pastor. I get to be there for people when the worst hits. I am thankful, because it has been my family like Michelle’s who needed someone to help care for their beloved member when they were unable to because of work and children. My family has been the family like Jerry’s who is sitting around just waiting for any news after a long surgery. I am the daughter of an amazing cancer survivor who has had those long surgeries and who has been surrounded not just by her biological family, but by her church family. I am grateful that this is how my faith community can be. We are called to be the voice that says God is here even in this scary time “of course.”
* There is something that I would love all of you to do to honor both my friend Jerry and my friend Michelle. To honor Jerry sign your donor card and tell your family you want to be an organ donor. To honor Michelle support her work with Susan G. Komen through team Michelle.