Dr. James L. Snyder / 19 MAR 2015 – Some people understand compliments and take them as they come. Other people, like myself, wouldn’t know a compliment if it hit them in the face like a pie.
For a long time I had been under the impression my wife was giving me compliments. It takes a husband a long time to understand his wife and by the time he understands her, she has morphed into the next level of womanhood. The man who thinks he knows his wife needs a psychiatrist, preferably a woman psychiatrist.
For a number of years my wife said to me, which I thought was a compliment, “You must’ve been born with a screwdriver in your hand.”
I never thought of myself as a handyman, but these kinds of compliments gave me a little bit of confidence in my incompetence. Nothing is more dangerous than confident incompetence.
I try to do a little bit of work around the house, like fixing things and improve things. However, every time I start to fix something, something happens to make it worse.
Last week, for instance, the front door latch came loose. Some screws had come loose and it was to the point that you could not shut the door. Well, being the bungling handyman that I am, I grabbed the nearest screwdriver I could find and tried to screw the screws back into the door and fix the problem. Usually, the first screwdriver I pick up does not fit the screw I am trying to screw in. I have come to discover that there is a screwdriver for every conceivable screw. Who knew?
I memorized a phrase to help me along that line; Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty. Every time I use that phrase I need to think it through a little bit to understand or at least try to understand what it means. If I turn the screwdriver left, I am loosening it and if I turn it right, I am tightening it. What that means I have no idea.
I grabbed my screwdriver firmly in my right hand and used my left hand to guide it to the screw that needed to be tightened. However, the more I turned it to the right the looser it became. It is not supposed to work that way. Either, I do not know my right from my left or somebody has messed up this project. Thank goodness, there was no mirror handy.
Just as I was about ready to rip the door from its hinges and throw it across the street the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage appeared and said, “Another proof that you were born with a screwdriver in your hand.”
At the time, I was not in any frame of mind whatsoever to receive a compliment.
She simply said to me, “May I have the screwdriver and would you go in and see if there’s any coffee left in the coffee pot?”
Since I had come to the end of my rope, I handed her the screwdriver and headed for the kitchen mumbling incoherently. By the time I got to the kitchen, I turned around and there she was following me.
“What about the door?” I said in a rather grumpy tone.
“Oh,” she said rather cheerfully, “it’s fixed.”
Several other projects I started ended up the same way. My wife would cheerfully come to me and say, “You must’ve been born with a screwdriver in your hand.” Then she would laugh most heartily and I would smile not quite getting what she was saying.
One Christmas the truth of this really hit home. I was opening a Christmas present from someone named “Guess Who” and discovered a brand-new screwdriver with my name engraved on the handle. The note inside the card said, “Here’s a screwdriver to help you in all the things you screw up.”
I must confess it took several days for me to process this Christmas gift. Then, just before New Year’s, the whole thing unfolded for me.
Whenever my wife says, “You must’ve been born with a screwdriver in your hand,” she is not complimenting me as I originally thought, but rather in that secret code that all wives know was saying that I was a major screwup.
At first, I was a little upset by this. To think that my wife thought I was a screwup was a very hard to swallow. She did not say I was a screwup, but she laid all the groundwork for me to come to that awesome conclusion.
To know what you can do is important, but to know what you cannot do is more important. Every time I look at the screwdriver, I realize there are a whole lot of things that I cannot do. I need to focus on what I can do. That is the message of the screwdriver.
We have now come to a basic understanding in our house that when there is ever a project that needs fixing I will always look at my wife and say, “Would you like to borrow my screwdriver?”
I think the apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
I think the biggest compliment I could ever receive or give, for that matter, is what Paul is implying here. Simply put; think before you fall.
Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or website www.jamessnyderministries.com.