Larry Lawton as told to Catherine Lawton
I'm independent and like to solve problems on my own.
When the computer man installed a new operating system at work, I didn't pay much attention when he said the company had a client hotline to call if I needed help.
Why would I need a hotline? As a corporate controller I had worked with computers long enough to know that you can't ruin them, that there's a way out of most situations. Even as I worked with the new operating system and program, I thought nothing could go wrong. I was in control.
A few nights later, I worked late to finish financial reports. Alone in the office, I was entering data and trying to post transactions to the new software program. Noticing the other menu options, I decided to explore the capabilities of the program. I got into inventory, order entry, etc., and finally into the "system" options, an area I didn't really understand.
At some point, I improperly canceled a job in the middle of its processing. That halted the program and a "message waiting" indicator flashed on the screen. When I finally found the message, it had an error "code."
I punched "restart," "cancel," "hold," and all the help function keys, but the computer did not respond. Finally it just froze up and I couldn't do a thing. I searched the manuals.
I thought of turning the power off, but then I might lose all the work I'd spent so much time on. I searched the nine volumes of three-inch thick manuals again. After a couple hours my frustration grew, but I was still determined to use my analytic skills and figure it out. I became tense, uptight. It was near midnight. This is just a machine, I thought. How can it get the better of me?
Still determined not to bother the hotline, I rationalized that it was too late at night by then. Probably no one was on the line anyway.
Finally, exasperated and at wit's end--I yielded. Hesitantly, I dialed the hotline. To admit defeat was almost more than I wanted to do.
To my surprise, a technician answered at that late hour.
"What is showing on the screen?" he asked. I told him.
"You're in the operating system itself. You shouldn't even go in there when you don't know what you're doing," he lectured me.
He explained about the "System Requires Attention" button I could press to override the system and get out of anything. In a few minutes, I was out of trouble and the system was operating again. Nothing was harmed.
But my ego was deflated. Humbled, I learned a healthier respect for the computer. And I learned to not just go off and do things with unreserved abandonment, throwing caution to the wind.
Pressures in my job, in my marriage, in my finances can build up. Trying to deal with it all in my own strength, I find myself in wrong and dangerous areas, rationalizing, "How could it hurt me?"
But I can't seem to stop myself. Pressure drives me on. I get all locked up, so to speak, and find it hard to admit that my "system" requires attention. Then, what seemed like a strength becomes a weakness.
Truth is, I can be relieved of the pressure if I'll just ask.
The manual--or Bible--has the answers, but I may not be able to find the answer immediately without help. It may not make sense to me when I'm already tested to the limit.
I really need a Hotline. I need to "call up" God in prayer, knowing He has all authority and willingly admit my failure and confusion--before the systems break down.
Standard (March 26, 2000)