On Wednesday, I took my car in to the garage to get the air conditioning fixed. They ran a diagnostic on it, emptied out the freon, refilled it, and sent me on my way after almost 3 hours of waiting, telling me it should be better. On the way home, the air conditioning failed again. I called and complained, not too happy about just spending $180 for nothing! Enrico, my service guy, ever so patiently squeezed the schedule to give me another appointment later in the week. After I hung up, I felt badly about my attitude. I had been whiny and impatient and a touch demanding on the phone. Whiny is never attractive, and demanding is not the most effective way to deal with people. But I also don't like feeling like I have been ripped off. So I asked God what was going on and I felt like he answered, "I'm giving you another chance to see Enrico." Somehow, the $180 or the non-functioning air conditioning didn't seem to be on the top of his list of things to be concerned about.
This is Dean receiving a birthday cake from me in May.
You see, I am planning to sell my car this month and that was to have been my last service appointment with Enrico. Admittedly, it hadn't gone so well. So I determined to be a more pleasant person to deal with and to make my last appointment with him something that we could both look back on with a smile and a sense of mutual respect and honour. Early Friday morning I drove up to the service centre. Enrico had a small crowd of people around him, all wanting something from him, so I waited. When the space in front of his desk finally cleared, he politely greeted me, ready to try to make things work out. Man, how many people do you know who consistently try to make things work out well for you and are pleasant every step of the way? Anyway, I gave him my best smile to let him know that I wasn't irritated with the situation, and told him things looked pretty crazy in the shop that morning! He said, "Yes, and it never stops." I was beginning to appreciate this man and what he did more and more.
I told him I had some errands to run and would be back later. Then I walked over to the local office store to make copies and mail some documents. As is my habit when I am walking somewhere, I had a conversation with God. In the last few days I have been realising that the way I see things is not always the way things actually are. Reading the story of Mary again has taught me so much about the generous nature of God. Too often I see things in my life through the lens of how my situation compares to others'. If God picked Mary for a special job, that meant that he did not pick me. But, I forget that he also picked Elizabeth and John and Joseph and Zachariah and Simeon and Anna, all to tell a different part of a wonderful story. I am a very good single-tasker, but it makes me somewhat blind to the vastness of God's ways. God picks everyone, but he picks them all for different purposes. And the blessing of God in one person's life consequently blesses me because I am part of the larger community! It never means that I am left out of the equation.
I am also beginning to see that I deflect many good things in my life simply because I am unable to recognise them, or am too busy complaining, or looking at someone else's good fortune, or feeling unworthy and pitiful. I am not in receiving mode, so no matter how much cool stuff people say to me, or how many interesting things God wants to bring into my life, I am not able to accept them. I am too preoccupied with some worry or disappointment. My prayer is, "God, I need this one thing," instead of, "What are you offering me today?" Do you ever find yourself brushing off a compliment, or denying someone's offer to pay for a meal? This is where I am too often, unwilling and unable to receive. Not a good place to be, believe me.
So as I walked outside on Friday morning, I decided to do something to change my attitude. I wanted to be a good receiver. I started saying, "I receive," out loud, over and over like a mantra. I receive. I receive. I receive. Yes, I receive anything you are wanting to send my way today, God. Anything. Let me see it. Let me accept it. I receive.
Two hours later, Enrico called me to tell me that the technician wanted to speak to me. Okay then. When I got back to the service centre, the three of us sat down in the waiting room and the technician said, "I have a bit of a story for you." I rubbed my hands together and said, "Oh goody, a story!" He smiled at my silliness and told me everything that he had done on my car thus far, and that he had discovered an unusual problem with my air conditioner. Though the condenser was not broken, the magnet that engaged it was corroded. This meant that it worked only sporadically. One could not just replace the magnet, so I would have to get a whole new condenser in order for the air conditioner to work properly. He said that I had 3 options. First, he could try to clean the magnet and position it closer so that it engaged better. This was the cheapest fix, about 45 minutes of his time, but there was no guarantee that this would solve the problem. Secondly, I could get a used condenser and get it installed. That would be about $500 - $600 dollars. Thirdly, I could install a new condenser from the manufacturer and that was $2500 plus labour. I thought the latter option was really funny, because my car is not worth too much more than that. So I told him I could install that and sell the car for double what it was worth. Great idea! Both of them laughed at the absurdity of that.
Then he looked at me and asked, "When do you plan to sell this car?" I told him that I hoped to do so within the month. Then the technician said, "Here's what I would do if I were you, and I am shooting myself in the foot here. I would do nothing. Tell the buyer the truth about the air conditioning and they can do what they want. It is not worth putting that money into it. I will clean up the magnet as best I can and hopefully it works a bit better. It will take about half an hour or 45 minutes." He looked at Enrico who nodded and we all agreed. I would have a small bill for the time the technician had spent on my car today, but at least I knew exactly what the problem was and had a list of options for the potential buyer. It was not the perfect scenario, but it was okay.
Half an hour later Enrico came into the waiting room and said my car was ready. I took the keys and the bill from his hand. He wished me all the best with the sale of the car and I bid him a thankful goodbye, happy that we had ended our relationship on such a friendly and pleasant note. I unfolded the bill and the amount at the bottom was 0.00. I receive!
This is Dean receiving a birthday cake from me in May.