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Thursday, August 17, 2006

You Gotta Laugh

As if discovering my identity was stolen (or, at least, my social security number) wasn't bad enough, the battery died on the Suburban tonight. Our church was doing a VBS (Vacation Bible School) program, which I atypically volunteered to help at, and it involved transporting kids. With our behemoth Suburban, I had plenty of room. This is NOT a good time for a car-battery to die.

I was not so panicky that I forgot my friend Jeff's cell phone number. Suddenly it was as if it were etched in glowing numbers on the backs of my eyelids. Jeff is not only my good friend, but, conveniently, the pastor of my church, and as such was also involved in the VBS program. When I called him, I knew he was close by.

So he came to my rescue in the parking lot of the Alaska Club South (where we, and numerous other masochistic adults, had been swimming with 40 elementary-age kids.)

Then later at church, when it was time to go home, my car failed again.

"Jeff!!!," I beckoned. Again, to my rescue he came. Good man. Thanks, Jeff!

And, I avoided a nervous breakdown without supplemental seratonin.

Meanwhile: I'm sort of famous at church right now.

With a great deal of help from my own lips, already many church-folk know that my social security number was "borrowed." I got a lot of sympathy and comments like, "Wow, I didn't know things like that really happened." Yeah, until 11am this morning, neither did I.

(Did I mention, via the police, I need to get a piece of paper that I need to carry with me at all times indicating that I am not the other person with the Texan criminal record? And that I need to get a mug-shot and fingerprinted with the Alaska authorities? Sigh.)

Elaine jokes I am the poster-child for the value of background checks. It can be a safeguard in the same way monitoring one's credit history can. Apparently, at our church there is some resistance to the idea of background checks. This is not a surprise. Who wants to live in a world where background checks at church might be deemed expected and ordinary? I certainly don't. But, people, that is the world we live in, whether you choose to accept it or not.

The funniest comment made to me tonight came from a guy at our church whose wife recently got released from a year-long stint in prison for fraud and embezzelment. He told me that, upon hearing of my travails, he commented to his wife, who is still in a half-way house, "Those darn criminals." He said it to tease her. He meant it very tenderly and lovingly. I didn't know how to take it (and I consider myself more out-of-the-box than most at my church). (This is a wonderful couple who has handled their family's ordeal with a divine level of grace and honesty.)

So, its been a day. I'm working on Beer #3, and just starting to relax. But the reality is, despite feeling tired and stressed, I have a strong sense of God's presence in all these events. I might have gone on indefinitely not knowing about the identity theft. The first infraction happened in 1989 - 17 years ago! The most recent infraction on the report occurred in 1999. So while I've been happily getting married and having babies, some poor soul has been desperate enough to steal that which belongs to others in order to survive.

But for the error made in one keystroke by the church administrator, I might have continued on in ignorance. (She had desperately wanted to call me and tease that she'd found something horrible during my check; little did she think she'd actually find something.) I always joke that ignorance is bliss. I would much rather have spent the whole afternoon blissfully lost in a book than be on the phone all afternoon with various federal and state agencies.

But would the ignorance of what is, in fact, reality, be preferable? I might go years and years continuing to live happily oblivious, and then have things catch up with me in a catastrophic way. Whether I am aware of my social security number's use in criminal records or not, it continues to exist with the imminent potential to profoundly influence my life.

I believe there is a reason for the timing of these events. I could have ignored the things that happened today; blown them off. But sometimes a door opens, and even though what lays across the threshold looks uninviting, you go through anyway. A small mess can lead to a much bigger one, down the road. You go through the door and start cleaning and clearing - by faith.

It is the bee-in-the-sewer-pipe theory all over again: just because you don't see it, it doesn't mean it isn't there. You flush a dead bug, and while it may seem to be gone forever, it does continue to exist, riding through sewer pipes as it decomposes. (Only a very few of my correspondents are familiar with this experiential analogy of mine, so don't expect to recognize it.)

As far as the dead car battery - again, Providential timing. Knowledgable help was readily available. Inconvenient, but in the end, there was resolution and satisfaction.

I wonder what fun new adventures lay in wait tomorrow?


At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Linda, The busy days of motherhood!! And all the things that make each day special (Car problems). What is coming each tomorrow?? A God that is always near if we relax and draw near to him. I am still learning that.
Sorry about the weird SSN thing.
Got your e-mail. Will see what I can do. Love Mary M.


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