Friday, August 21, 2009

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Once there was a novel and a TV series entitled "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy."

I never read the book or saw the show but the title always intrigued me and, in time, I had a chance to do a little bit of all of them. Well, except for the spy part. A spy is what we call the guys on the other side, the guys on our side we refer to as "intelligence officers." So, I was never a spy - but yes, I was an intelligence officer.

I am also proud to say that I was pretty good in 3 of the 4.

My experience as a tailor started when I was a young teenage cadet. I asked my Mom to sew my patches on my uniform once and she was very supportive until I asked her to re-do it because 3/4" was not the same as 1/2" and it mattered. Well, not to her so I learned to use the sewing machine. And I actually got pretty good at it that I started to do stuff on my own. I was so skinny when I was a teenager that I had to tailor my own uniform shirts or else it would look baggy. Yes, I was still skinny but my uniform looked good! I stopped sewing for years but I was pleased to see that I could still do a decent job when it came time to sew patches on my son's cub scout uniform and then my daughter's girl scout uniform. Oh yeah - the man can sew too!

I was a good soldier and an officer. I almost always got the mission accomplished, took care of my troops and my equipment and helped everyone whenever I could. When I look back at my 20 years in the Army, I have a lot of pride of accomplishment. I think I did more in my 20 years than many and I am very proud of my service.

I can't say too much about my work as an intelligence officer. I did some good stuff that mattered. I was good.

Have you guessed it yet?

As a tinker - I am a mess. I have no natural mechanical ability. I have tried. I changed my own oil. With my friend's help, I changed my brakes once. Air filters, headlights - OK.

Anything more than that - not so OK. For example, I tried to change my driver's side mirror today. I got most of it taken off and then it got to the part where I was supposed to remove the "retaining clip." Huh? What retaining clip? So, after several minutes of frustrated searching and prodding, it dawned on me - you are not going to find it and if you don't get this put back together your family is going to be down to one car.

For the lack of a retaining clip?

So, with wires and equipment dangling both in and out of my car I did some quick taping and drove down to the Ford dealer. Several hours later, everything was fixed and all it cost me was money and my pride. What a deal!

What did I learn from all this?

1. It is folly to compare your weakness to someone else' strength. I am not a good mechanic. If I measure my self-worth to the mechanics in the shop then I am certain to be unhappy. Having said that, I am pretty sure that those guys can't keep up with me in the Tailor, Soldier, "Intelligence Officer" area.

2. Don't let your pride get in the way of seeking help. I think sometimes we get too wrapped up in our pride of doing it on our own - at least I know I do. I convince myself that I should be able to do something even if it is completely unreasonable. It is only when we admit our own shortcomings and ask for help that we are able to gain in compassion for others and grow in our own humanity. I have found that it is true that when I am weak that God is strong.

3. God does call us out of our comfort zone and we need to have the courage to follow that call. It is too easy for me to only do what I am good at doing. It is human nature to stay with the familiar even if it is not good for you. But God has His own plan for us that is usually out of our comfort zone. It would have been easy for Peter to stay a fisherman but God wanted more and so Peter left his nets to follow Christ into the unknown. It would have been easy for the woman to continue to seek the traditional doctors but she knew if she could only touch Jesus' cloak that she would be healed - and she was and she was so scared of her own boldness afterwards that she could not even speak. It would have been easy for Jesus to stay a carpenter and to avoid the cross but then none of us would be saved.

So, I am pretty sure that I am not going to be a tinker but maybe a baker, or candlestick maker. Maybe I will even try my hand at swinging a hammer. I understand that there is good company there.

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