I’ve been on hold for seventeen minutes now.
It’s the cable company and that infernal box they’ve given me. The one that’s supposed to give me a “crystal clear picture and flawless DVR playback.” And it was, for a while. But now the picture is fuzzy and the DVR is AWOL.
“Your call is important to us,” says the mechanical voice on the other end of the line. “Please hold for the next available representative.”
So I wait. The choice I believe I have—to wait or just hang up—is an illusion. Hanging up will not fix my problem of the fuzzy picture and the AWOL DVR. So I’m stuck waiting. And if there is one thing I hate more than being on hold, it’s having no other option.
What’s worse, I can’t do anything while I wait. I can’t read (the only thing more distracting than the mechanical lady is the mechanical elevator music that is eating my brain). I can’t listen to the radio. And of course I can’t watch the television, for obvious reasons. So here I sit, picking at the hole that’s been worn into the right knee of my blue jeans and wondering what this all means. Because even the worst stuff in the world can be borne more easily if bearing it means something.
Honestly, this isn’t too bad. I’ve been on hold lots of times. The phone company, the cell company, the doctor’s office. Once I was on hold for almost an hour when I realized I had no idea whom I’d called (turned out I was ordering a knife, which I then supposed I didn’t really need). Seventeen minutes isn’t so bad in comparison.
And of course the cable company has nothing on God. I was once on hold with Him for over twenty years. Not kidding. That’s a long time to wait. A long time to sit and not have a choice in the matter. I’ll be truthful and say I didn’t take that very well. In fact, I sometimes said the same sorts of things about Him that I’m saying under my breath about the cable company. I’m not proud of that now, though at the time I thought it completely justifiable.
“Your call is important to us…”
I’m sure it is. Word has it that the cable company’s in trouble. Lots of people are turning to the dish nowadays. I suppose there’s some semblance of power in that. One small choice. I’m important because I can cancel my service.
Twenty years ago I could have cancelled my service with God, too. That was my choice. Sitting there on hold with Him all that time? I’m surprised the thought never crossed my mind. There were plenty of other providers out there who promised better service—other beliefs, other religions, even no religion (that one couldn’t promise heaven, but it did its very best to promise the world).
—“Your call is important to us.”—
—and I’m still on hold. My finger dances over the END button, but instead I just grip the phone harder.
I was once on hold for much longer for much more important things. A fuzzy picture on my television is nothing next to a fuzzy picture on my life. Not being able to see the former can make me miss a run in the World Series or a touchdown on Sunday afternoon. Not being able to see the latter made me miss much more.
I’ll endure this. Absolutely. Just like before.
Twenty-three minutes. Still better than twenty years.
Then again, I found out something while I was waiting all that time. I learned that God will put you on hold sometimes, but He won’t bother with putting on some celestial version of elevator music to help you pass the time. Instead, He’ll talk to you. His voice sounds faint; you have to listen hard to hear it. Not His fault, though. All that worry and impatience can fill the line with static.
But He’ll talk. He’ll say things like, “You’re doing good, just hang in there” and “Your call is important to Me and so is what you’re waiting on, but you know what? You’re even more important than either of those.”
And that’s true. I think God sometimes puts us on hold just so we’ll realize that. That we’re more important to Him than the things we want.
After all, it isn’t our happiness that He’s after. Not our peace, not our dreams.