Tuesday, July 21, 2015

'Whale-ing’ Experiences

“Jack of some trades, master of none”. That altered cliché sums me up in a nutshell. I’ve spent my entire life gaining skills that so far have done nothing to advance my position in life. At age ten I was mowing yards and learning the art of ‘scaping’ land. At age twelve, I was still mowing lawns, but now I was babysitting as well…not simultaneously, as a rule, however…no, no, that’s a story for another tyme. Suffice it to type, I was adding valuable skills to my set.

At age 16, I ventured out in the world and got a job at the local fast food place and let me tell you, anyone who claims working fast food is not really a job, well, they are wrong. I learned a great deal working that job, so much so that I went from front counter attendant to crew chief in six months. I learned everything from how to work with high energy in a super fast pace – it was fast food after all – to how to be diplomatic when offering customer service. One of the most memorable pieces of knowledge I gained at the golden arches (admit it, you were wondering which one) was the art of multi-tasking. I got to the point where I could dress sandwiches (no, not with shirts and ties, but with special sauce, onions, lettuce, pickles cheese and two all beef patties on a sesame seed bun) with two hands while dropping nuggets to fry and taking drive-thru orders.  One tyme, while working both front counter and drive-thru, I took an order in the drive-thru and asked the person, “is that for here or to go?” Okay, so my multi-tasking moments were not always stellar, but at least the lesser ones offered some comic relief…but, I digress…

After high school I took a job as a wood-shop worker where I became a spray-paint, sanding and quality control professional. I developed my craft into a fine art and, with the techniques required of the profession, often found myself referencing The Karate Kid: wax on, wax off. Of course there was no waxing involved for me, but the back and forth motion, well, you get the idea. Before hanging up my spray gun, I helped implement new safety procedures and a mask filtration system. 

At age 19, my life fell apart in a way and I found myself treading uncharted waters.  I was all set to go to school to be a massage therapist, but the rough seas of life sent me in a different direction and I ended up taking a job as a data entry clerk for a company that happened to be working in the big city of Philadelphia. Now that might not seem like a wow factor to you, but to a small town girl who never traveled much on her own, especially not to cities, Philadelphia was a major wow factor.  The commute was 52 miles one way and it involved one of the strangest, craziest, busiest roads in the country: The Schuylkill Expressway – the definition of “Bottleneck”. While my job in the city (I advanced from data entry to Junior Consultant in a little over a year) taught me a lot, I think the most lasting skill I obtained from it is my ability to really drive with an aggressive caution.  And yes, that is a major skill, one that many (o so many) people do not have, but here I go, digressing yet again.

Fast forward several years, more than I’m willing to admit, and you’ll find out that I’ve been a roadie/merchandiser on the bluegrass music tour. I’ve been a publicist, a pattern and fabric cutter for a sewing business, a visual manager for a department store, a webmaster, a graphic designer, a photographer and a radio disc jockey. So yes, you see, “Jack of some trades; master of none” is my unsolicited mantra.  If you think that I have no idea what I want to be ‘when I grow up’, well, you’re wrong. I’ve pretty much always known what I wanted to be, what I lacked, however, was the confidence to go after it.

Yes, I admit it, I am a Jonah. I run away from what God tells me and try to justify my running with every excuse in the book. Oh sure, I have my reasons, good ones too and I can spout them off and spin them around to justify a fear or a concern or a Tuesday for that matter. What I’ve never been able to do is follow God’s prompting and because of that, I’ve had a life tyme of ‘whale-ing’ experiences that have led me no where…or at least that was my view point when I started this expedition.

I realize now, having typed down many of my experiences, perhaps God’s been using my tyme in the whale to prepare me for what I always wanted to do: write. You see, the main measure of a good writer is believability and the most authentic way for writers to achieve such it is to write about what they know. Well, it just so happens, a great deal of what I know comes from my whale tyme.  Isn’t that something? I’ve been struggling against what God has for me, but instead of giving up on me, He’s been using my rebellion to prepare me for the moment I’m ready to accept His direction.

All my twists and turns in life have made me who I am: A Jack of some trades with One Master, Who has equipped me with an eclectic collection of knowledge that He can use to reach, help and inspire people – or at least they can look at me and see examples of what not to do.  After all, isn’t that one of the lessons we learn from Jonah? What not to do? Of course we can also learn from Jonah’s adventure that God gives second (third, fourth…) chances and He is right where He was when we sailed away from Him. … but again with the digressing…

So, where does my profound revelation leave me? Is it an instant cure-all or even a cure-some for my current state of professional weariness? No, it isn’t. It is, however, a helpful reminder that God is in control and even in my weakest emotional state or my strongest moment of rebellion, God is right there, ready to hand me my ‘get out of whale free’ card and lead me on the path He has for me…and, having been in whale for a while, you might say I’m all write with that.

I believe God has a plan for each of us, a bright plan (Jeremiah 29:11) but some tymes it takes tyme in the dark of the whale to realize or appreciate that fact.  So if, like me, you feel lost in your professional (or personal) pursuits and you’ve fallen into the Jonah trap; just remember you know the Who holds the key to unlock your whale cell. There’s nothing fishy about it. Just knock and the door will be open (Matthew 7:7-8)…and then go tell your whale of a tale so others can see there’s no way to de-bait God’s reel plan. 

L.D. Kirklin

P.S. The Bible tells us in Jonah 1:17 that God prepared a "Great Fish" to swallow Jonah.  We don't know that it was a whale, but it could have been...and the idea that it was lent well to my word play.  Something to ask yourself though...after the Great Fish/Whale spit Jonah onto dry land (Jonah 2:10) do you think the Fish went down and told his sea creature friends..."I once caught a man and he was this big!"...it could have been history's first Whale tale ;)