This time when my computer bit the dust, I was ready. Past experiences had prepared me, so I’d backed up everything of importance to three different devices. And when the dreaded “black screen of death” appeared and my beloved PC refused to start up last month, I wasn’t worried. At first.
But last week I realized I hadn’t backed up as carefully as I thought I had. One folder in particular, a folder that held tons of information regarding my family’s genealogy back to the 1800’s was missing. Hours of research and interview notes that couldn’t possibly be duplicated, were nowhere to be found.
I placed a phone call to our computer guy. The same guy who last month informed me that my previous computer was indeed dead, due to overheating. He added however, that he may be able to recover some items from my hard drive if I needed him to. I proudly informed him, that I’d been through this before, learned my lesson the hard way, and backed everything up thrice. So I told him thanks, but no thanks.
Now here I was days later, on the phone with him, desperate and asking if he could please see if this particular genealogy folder could be pulled from that fried hard drive. I could almost hear the smile in his voice as he let me know that he was already a step ahead of me. He told me that before he returned my computer, he’d already completed the recovery process and was just waiting on my phone call.
The one lesson I hadn’t learned from those past experiences was that all of the storage devices in the world were useless if the PC owner didn’t know how to utilize them properly. But evidently, our computer guy knew, and he waited patiently for me to realize it too.
Excited, I told him the name of the folder I needed to locate. One by one, he called off the name of every folder and every file he was able to recover. As he did this, panic set in. I had lots of personal files, photos, and notes on that computer. And he had access to them all. Right there at his fingertips.
But what concerned me the most was my journal. For the past six years, I’d faithfully kept one on my computer. It not only contained personal thoughts about me, but others as well.
And because I’m a writer, another thought hit me. He’d had this information stored at his place of business for at least a couple of weeks. At any time, over a cup of coffee and a bagel, he could’ve been privy to my most inner thoughts. Thoughts about me, my friends and my family.
One of the definitions of blackmail is, “extortion or coercion by threats, especially of public exposure”. And there was more than enough material in my journal for that.
Like I said, I’m a writer. I knew my mind couldn’t help but think of these things.
But the thought still paralyzed me.
I MUST add here, that we’ve worked with our computer guy for years now. And from previous conversations, I believe him to be a Christian and a patriot, and there was nothing he said or did, that suggested in any way that he’d even consider such a thing. It was my overactive imagination that was the villain here, not him.
And it was all because I felt exposed.
Not only because he had access to very sensitive information, but because he also knew that I professed to be a Christian. Was there anything on there that would cause him to doubt that? Or worse, cause him to doubt his faith? Or cause him to stumble in his walk?
I needed to find out.
After our phone call ended, I frantically searched my brain, desperate to remember what I had written in that journal. Every folder, file, document, photo and video came under scrutiny as well.
The computer guy also knows I’m a writer, so I hoped some things would be self-explanatory. However, I’m not sure that he knows that I write Supernatural Suspense. Information in my research files about demonry, cults, Satanic worship and witchcraft would undoubtedly cause him to raise an eyebrow or two, but one glimpse into my WIP’s and MS (also on that computer) would easily put those concerns to rest.
But what about the others? Was there anything else? Was there gossip about my friends? Dirty laundry on my family? Secret love letters? Were there photos that needed to be explained, or videos I needed to create an excuse for?
Was there anything on there that would cause me to hang my head in shame when I picked up the recovery disc?
After a couple of minutes of this, I took in a deep breath, relaxed and remembered how far God has brought me. And how that relationship with Him, has not only changed my eternal destiny, but my life. It’s changed not only what I write, but how I write, whether that be a book, an email or a journal entry. And it also changes the way I see people. And the things I watch, and the activities I participate in.
I slept peacefully that night knowing that there was nothing in those journal entries that my friends or family didn’t already know. And if there was something of a more controversial nature, such as my views on the culture, politics and/or politicians (yes, there are a lot of those type of notes in there) those could easily be discussed and resolved over a hot cup of tea and a couple of blueberry scones.
I could now face the computer guy with a smile on my face and my head held high.
Not because of anything I’ve done or didn’t do, or something I wrote or didn’t write, but because of God. And His grace. And His mercy.
And His never-ending love for a sinner like me.
A God who loved me enough to show me through a single phone call, how important it is that I am who I say I am. Not just in word and deed and the places where someone’s looking, but in the places they aren’t. Not just for my sake, or God’s sake, but for the sake of others who are traveling this Christian journey. And for those who are about to begin one.
He also taught me that what really mattered wasn’t what the computer guy thought or even if I could lift my head up high the next time I saw him.
But whether or not I’ll be able to hold my head up high when I see Him.
And only by the continued grace of God will I be able to do that.
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