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Unreasonable Fears... My Phone

I have to say that I have not had a lot of lasting friends. I would guess traveling like I have and living in more states than I can recall does not lead to lasting relationships. Nor would the fact that most of the people I called friends were as deeply involved in addictive habits as I was for many years. But even taking all of that into consideration. I have another problem that prevents me from staying in touch with those few who call themselves my ‘friends’, I hate telephones

I don’t know what it is, but when I have to call someone on the phone, I break out in a cold sweat. It does not matter if it is friend, business, or stranger. I start to tap out the ten-digit number and I am a mess. I don’t know how this all started but I do know that it has been a problem from the time when phones actually had a dial and there were still party lines.

I recall an incident when I was living in Upper Michigan way back in the stone age of the early 1970’s. I had just bought my first house. It was what we call a ‘fixer-upper’. An old hand dug well in the backyard, no real plumbing in the house except a toilet and a kitchen sink with an outdoor spigot. No hot water, the old couple who had lived there took saunas in a little shed also in the backyard. Needless to say, there was a lot of work to be done before we could even move in.

I can tell you I was a proud guy when we finally did! Showing off all the work that had been done: new shower and hot water heater. Kitchen with a stainless-steel sink and hot and cold running water. And so much more. We had a real home! So, when the Bell Telephone man showed up to install our phone, that too was a momentous occasion. That is until he told me we would be sharing a line with four other households. The city boy now living in the country was introduced to a party line and it struck real fear in his heart!

Every time I would want to make a call fear overcame me. “What if someone is on the line? Do I ask them to get off? Do I listen in? What in the world should I do?” Now the incident I spoke of happened in maybe the second week after we moved in. I had just gotten home from work and as usual the house was empty. My wife and baby must once again be at my mother-in laws house. She was supposed to do some shopping, so I could cook up a batch of spaghetti and meatballs, my favorite meal at the time, but the cupboards were bare. I really needed to know if my wife had done the shopping or if I would need to go out and get what was needed. That meant using the telephone. It came down to fear or famish. I wanted dinner but risking talking on the party line, well...

Telling myself to quit being foolish I picked up the line and yeah, no one was on, or so it seemed. But as I started to dial, I heard a woman’s voice thunder, “Who’s on this line? Can’t you tell we are talking here?” Again, she said, “Who is this?” I slammed down the phone in terror. “Would they be able to tell it was me? Would someone come to the house and penalize me in some way?” So many other foolish thoughts. I did not make that call, just sat in fear until my wife got home an hour later. I did not use our phone again for months. That is what fear does!

I guess you could say it is pretty weird or foolish to be afraid of talking on the phone. I think so myself. But it is there and so far, I have not been able to rid myself of it completely, yet I have hope. I know human fears and phobias know no boundaries. I know that psychiatrists have all kinds of treatments and even claim cures for human fear but, I also know that none of them would ever work for me. Like with my addictions I knew that the core of those were deeper than what ‘cures’ humans could offer. I believe that is the same with our fears and with our phobias.

God says this to us through the prophet Isaiah,

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

And I believe that this means for us to turn even the silly and sometimes embarrassing fears over to Him too. He knows them already and is just waiting for me to humble myself and say,

“Lord, you know my weaknesses and know even the hairs on my head, today I need to talk on the phone, be with me that I may do your will.”

I pray that prayer when that unreasonable fear comes over me and you know what? He always gives me the ability, even with sweaty palms,

too make the call. And even as Satan keeps trying to remind me how weak I am, it does just that opposite it shows me I am strong in He who created me and defeated the ultimate fear, death, for me. Pretty awesome stuff.

Even as fearful as I was about that party line, I eventually got used to it and even got to know a few of my neighbors because of it. When my house caught fire and burned to the walls. It was one of them who knew me by that time who called the fire department and did everything to console us. Even as we became friends, I still took a gulp every time I picked up that phone and sometimes still do. But when I do, I have an answer, His name is Jesus Christ. Even in the wacky fears He is my Savior1

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