Before this year, depression had never roosted in my bones. Three jobs, three layoffs. Three had become my tragic number. Three months behind on the mortgage. Three different bill collectors calling me, three times a day. Three was also a good estimate for the amount of dollars left to my name. Depression was etching its way into my DNA. Imagine that, three letters.
Lying on the couch while reruns of Law & Order played on the 36-inch screen, I contemplated never rising to my feet. What if I just stayed here? Would I slowly starve to death? No, couldn’t do that, right. I mean sooner or later hunger would make me search out nourishment, wouldn’t it? I couldn’t be sure.
The telephone shattered my wonderings. “RRRRrrrrrrringgggg, RRRRrrrrringgg!” the second pulsating ring always a little shorter than the first. It was probably a bill collector, usually was. But then I had another thought: What if it was God calling me? Silly thought, I thought. But just for contemplation’s sake, what if God were calling me?
My mind, weary from the despair, jumped right into some imaginary dialogue:
“Joe, this is God.”
“God, how can I be sure?”
“Well, I know you cheated at checkers 472 times while playing your younger brothers, you are the one who stole your sister’s favorite Bon Jovi album, and you’ve never once told anyone that your favorite workout videos used to be Richard Simmons Sweating to the Oldies.”
“Okay, God, that last one, I’m convinced! This is a secure line, right…I mean nobody’s going to know about?”
“No, Joe, it’s just you and me.”
“Am I in trouble, God, Father, Lord…umm, do you have a preference?”
“Any of those will do.”
“Am I, God? Okay, that didn’t come out right. I meant to say, am I in trouble, God?”
“Not yet. But if you continue to embrace sorrow over hope, then yes, you will be in trouble. You’re not the first man to see hard times. Millions have become intimately familiar with despair. Your hope should be in me, but I can’t help you be the man you’re not willing to be.”
“But I’ve tried, Lord.”
“I can’t do much with the past tense of that word.”
“How did you know to call me? How did you know I needed your help?
“Joe, this is your imaginary phone call. I just decided to come along for the ride.”
“But this advice, it’s really coming from you, right?”
“Most good advice does. Do you believe I’m talking to you?”
“Yes, strangely enough, I do. And hey look, I’m sitting up now; sitting up, on the phone, talking to God, holding my own in a conversation with the creator of the universe. Who would believe this?”
“So, how hard would it be to find a job and explain things to a few bill collectors, Joe?”
“Not hard at all! I can do this. I can get my life back on track. Thank you so much, God. I’m going to get back out job hunting right now.”
“Good idea, Joe. And by the way, I wanted to thank you, too.”
“Me, Lord, what did I do for you?”
“As you might know, I’m extremely good at multitasking.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that – an omnipotent God has to be, I guess.”
“Well, during our discussion, I was able to see and hear one of my favorite Law & Order episodes of all times. That series didn’t make it 18 seasons for nothing. Great show, and trust me, I know a little something about law and order.”
“Yes, Lord, I’m sure you do. Do you think you’ll ever call me on my telephone again?”
“I didn’t call you this time, Joe. You called me. And sometimes, a little hard times is all the kick in the pants some people need to get them calling the right number. Have a good life, Joe. I think you know what to do from here. Bye.”
“Bye, Lord! Hello, life!”
I hung up the telephone and made my way out the door, hoping no one noticed the spring in my step closely resembled the enthusiasm of a Richard Simmons workout video. Give me a break. I lost 75 pounds cause of those tapes!
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