When my phone was stolen, I was venting and processing and crying and whining about it (a LOT and to anyone who would listen) and my dad said, "Kelsey, the story isn't over yet." I just hate it when he says things like that. Because do you know what that sort of thing means? It calls to mind that promise that Jesus gave us, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world." And you have to re-read that and realize that he was talking in past tense. I like to think that the whole "overcoming the world" thing is something to look forward to. And it is. But the reality is the Resurrection isn't just a ticket into Heaven. The Resurrection also means the opportunity for a redeemed and healed and hopeful life NOW. Which means I need to stop wallowing and start looking for the ways the story will be redeemed. And sometimes, well...I don't WANT TO. I just want to feel like the victim sometimes, okay?
But being the victim is only satisfying for so long and it's really not all it's cracked up to be. So, I know I promised the full story of our stolen iPhone and you'll get it, but to be honest, the theft itself is becoming less and less important to me. In fact, the details of how it was stolen have sort of gone from center stage to backdrop in the emerging story. Okay, fine. So my dad was right. Again. Big surprise.
**I should interject here and say that this whole phone debacle definitely falls in the category of "first-world problems." I am and have been the first to remind myself of that. I think every other thought over the last week has been, "It's just a phone, Kelsey! Get over it!" So, I hope you will be gracious with me as I share this story and acknowledge the beauty of the reality that Jesus loves us and therefore he cares about the things that matter to us. And so if he cares about me, he cares that my first world problems still matter to me, even if they shouldn't.**
So, today, I'm going to tell you the real story. Or at least part of it. And tomorrow or the next day, maybe I'll post the story of how the phone was stolen - the prologue, I suppose.
We have these friends. I've known her since 5th grade and we've known her husband for about three years. They have been among the most supportive friends in our adoption journey. From financial gifts, to encouragement in decisions we've made, to being physically present and supportive with our fundraisers, these friends have been all in with us from the beginning. And when they found out that my phone was stolen at our garage sale, they were outraged on our behalf. He was probably more mad than we were, in fact. And they immediately started talking about how they could help right the wrong.
At this point, you need a bit of back story. Several weeks ago, these friends were at the mall and were approached by a group of people who were there to "pay it forward." My friend was given a Pandora bracelet and told to keep it or pass it on to bless someone else. Our friends went home and decided to put the bracelet up on Ebay and then hold on to money while they tried to figure out what to do with it. When my phone was stolen, they started talking about offering us the money toward a new phone. The day after the garage sale, they were having lunch with her parents and told them about my phone and their idea to give us the money they had from the sale of the bracelet. Her parents, who have known me for 20 years, said that if our friends chose to do that, they would match the gift. The combined gifts would be just enough for a new iPhone.
Now, when we chose to adopt, part of that choosing required that we would have to make ourselves accustomed to accepting the generosity of others. We knew we couldn't do this without the support of our community. (And I mean that word support in the most 3D sense of the word - Emotional, Spiritual, Financial.) But I will admit that there are times when I can't rid myself of that nagging feeling of indebtedness. Someone gives generously to our adoption fund and I find myself worrying, "Did I say thank you well enough? Do I spend enough time with them? Do they feel like their gift was given the credit and the acknowledgement that it deserves? Do they feel used by me?" I try my best to keep these thoughts in check, but insecurity and the desire to please or to protect myself from criticism kind of simmers in the recesses of my heart. I don't want people to think badly of me. I don't want to be misunderstood. I want to be loved. I want to be liked. At its root, this is an identity crisis for me. But that, my friends, is another post entirely.
Anyway, when our friends first offered to buy us a new phone, we told them we would think about it. I started searching my heart for those nagging thoughts, "How can we repay them? How can we make this worth it to them? How can I even the score? I don't want them to feel like it's an uneven relationship. I don't want to feel like it's an uneven relationship." But as I thought about it, the more I was completely unable to conjure up any amount of shame or embarrassment or indebtedness or guilt in response to their offer. The lack of those emotions is nothing other than a testament to their character and sincere generosity. It is a testament of a gift given with the same parameters of the gifts given by Christ. A gift given out of love. A gift without a price tag. No repayment necessary. Only a truly generous person could offer something like that and convey in their offering that the gift doesn't do anything to tip the scales. In fact, only someone a lot like Jesus could do that.
So the long and short of it is, we accepted their offer. And we are so grateful. For the phone, yes. But more so for the friendship. I hope each and every one of you has at least one friend like them. We don't deserve them.
When my friend and I talked about the phone, she said, "I know this won't fix everything. I know that it's more than just a phone." And she was right. It was a multi-layered loss. Sure, the financial hit was a big one (did you know the apple store charges $650 to replace a phone!?!), but the loss of pictures of Lila, all my contacts, my calendar, my texts and emails, not to mention the loss of the feeling of security (it's an unnerving thing to know a complete stranger, someone who has proven himself to be dishonest at the very least, could be looking at photos of your young daughter, reading through old emails and texts, examining the bits of your life that were stored on your phone).
But, I resigned myself to the reality that we probably wouldn't get any of those things back. And I was truly grateful to have one thing taken off that list of loss by the gift of a new phone. We waited a few days to activate the new phone, still holding out hope that my original phone might be recovered. When we finally decided to activate the new one, I was overwhelmed all over again by how much I had lost as I tried to remember what was missing on this new, fresh phone.
Until I plugged the phone into my computer. This beautiful little box popped up asking me something to the effect of, "Would you like to restore your new phone to the previous settings of your old phone?" With a gasp, I clicked "yes" thinking maybe, miraculously, iTunes had perhaps stored at least my contacts or my calendar. After several minutes of transferring data, my new phone reset itself and when it came back on, I was greeted with this most miraculous sight:
The welcome screen with the photo of Lila I had saved on my old phone. Now, I don't mean to be melodramatic when I say that with shaky fingers and butterflies in my tummy I unlocked the phone and began to search my calendar, my apps, my contacts, my photos, my texts, my emails to find that, with the exception of the ten days between my last sync on June 5th and the day the phone was stolen, everything was there. EVERYTHING.
Suddenly, that list of loss was much, much shorter. And the gift given by our sweet friends had been amplified five-fold. I nearly cried. Okay, I did cry. But just a little. And it began to sink in that the only things truly lost were 10 days worth of photos and texts. Yes, there's still that nagging fear that my phone is in the hands of someone untrustworthy. But that is truly out of my control. And that fear is just one of many on the pile of worries in my mommy heart. All of which deserve to be turned over in full to the trustworthy and nail-marked hands of the Lord - He who has overcome all the evils of the world.
And so, the story, which I thought was titled, "How My iPhone Was Stolen and My Life Ruined" has taken on a new name, "How Jesus Always Does What He Promises." And I just know that this is only the first chapter of many in that book. Perhaps only the first page.
So, my friends, tell me, what stories could you add to that book?