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Craigslist Grace

I am a helpless romantic.
By that I mean that I am helpless in my romantic efforts.
The Christmas present I bought Katie this year was 2 Pan/Tilt/Zoom security cameras so that she could feel more comfortable coming home to a dark house on the nights when I am not there.

So loving. So thoughtful.
So helpless.

Needless to say, the cameras were not a welcome Christmas present. Katie said something about "that doesn't count as a present," and "nothing says 'Merry Christmas' like a camera that reminds you that life is not merry all the time." Not my brightest Christmas buying moment.

So I decided to sell the cameras. Might as well recoup as much of my losses as possible and maybe give somebody else a good deal on a secondhand like-new camera. I initially listed one of the cameras on Ebay and it sold for $21 (I bought it for $49). However, I accidentally clicked the "free shipping" button when I listed it so all of a sudden I had to pay the shipping. Oh well. My mistake. I figured I was helping out a fellow Ebay patron by paying the $13 shipping and I only get $8 back from my initial purchase price. Still, it beats having it collect dust in the basement.

But then the fellow Ebay patron couldn't get the camera to work. They eventually accused me of selling them a faulty camera and filed a complaint with Ebay. Ebay took their side and made me issue a refund if they returned the item. This meant that I had to return the $21 ($8 profit and eating the $13 S&H charge) AND I had to pay for the return shipping. Now I was losing about $30 just to get the camera back to me in the first place!
Double bonk.

Out of curiosity as to the trouble this camera had now caused me, I plugged it in when it arrived back home and it worked just fine. Now determined more than ever to recoup some of this money, I decided to list the cameras on Craiglist and see if I could work something out with someone locally. I had a couple bites but no real offers.
One day I had someone plan to meet me in Blueash but they ended up being a no-show. I left the parking lot after 15 minutes and scooted over to my next appointment. A little frustrated but it wasn't the end of the world or anything.

A week later I had someone text me from the Dayton area interested in the cameras. We set up a meeting time at Lunken airport the next evening and I told him to text with his ETA when he left Dayton.
The next day I got a phone call from someone with a thick foreign accent asking if I still had the cameras for sale. I told him yes and he asked if I could meet that day. I told him I could meet at Lunken airport and he said he would call me back later.
I figured this would work out great for me. If the foreign accent guy called back, I could text the Dayton guy and tell him I had already sold them. If the foreign accent guy didn't call back then I would just continue meeting with the Dayton guy as planned.

I ended up not getting a return phone call from the foreign accent guy so I figured it would be me and Mr. Dayton. I picked up a pizza for the family and headed home. It was a beautiful day so we were chowing down on some cheese pizza when the phone rang. Foreign Accent Guy told me he was at the airport ready to meet me. I told him I would be there in 5 minutes. Yikes! Wasn't expecting that!

I jumped into my truck and drove over to the airport with the cameras in tow. I found the red SUV I was looking for and hopped out. I was greeted by a bearded, older gentleman with a thick middle-eastern accent. He immediately noticed the T shirt I was wearing (which was part of Matthew 5 written in Hebrew text). He gestured to my shirt and asked where I got it from. Not wanting to panic I told him I got it from an event I had attended. I asked if he knew how to read it and he said no, but that he understood about 40% Hebrew by listening to it. We exchanged a few more pleasantries about his home in the Middle East, the value of Flex Fuel for your car, and how the cameras worked. He gave me $50 for the cameras and we went our separate ways.

As soon as I hopped back into my truck I realized that I needed to text Mr. Dayton and tell him not to come. I picked up my phone to text him and saw that he had already sent me a text: "Headed your way, should be there around 6:45."
I called him immediately and told him what had happened in a voicemail. I was so disappointed in myself for standing this guy up and I wanted to catch him before he got too far into the drive.

By the time I got home, I realized that I was more upset about breaking my plans with Mr. Dayton than I had been when Mr. Blueash stood me up. It's one thing to be wronged, but quite another to wrong someone else. Any day of the week I would rather be the one who wrong is done to, than to do wrong to someone else.

I texted Mr. Dayton a couple times just to confirm that he had gotten my voicemail and to berate myself before him. As I explained what had happened to Katie, she realized (in all her infinite wisdom) that I was looking for grace from this Craigslist guy. I knew I had wronged him and I was looking for him to offer me something I didn't deserve: forgiveness.

Mr. Blueash never bothered texting me ever again. I was able to offer him grace because it wasn't a big deal to be stood up. But when it came to Mr. Dayton, I wasn't in control of offering grace--I was left in the vulnerable position of needing to be extended grace, and there was nothing I could do to earn it from him.

It was a humbling and very eye-opening encounter.

James 4:6
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”


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