Yesterday was probably the hardest Sunday I’ve had in a long time.
First – the topic. Adultery. Who doesn’t love to teach on adultery? Right up there with tithing. (Sarcasm font — need to work on that.)
Second – distractions. Had a lot of them in the services yesterday.
Third – interpreting through the lens of hurt. There are some subjects that are just going to be interpreted through the lens of pain and hurt. It’s inevitable – our experiences shape us and that affects how we hear others. Adultery is one of those subjects and it comes with major baggage. There is no way around this. When I look into the faces of the crowd – I see their stories. It’s got some hurt, anger, bitterness, forgiveness, restoration, and healing. All of it. So while I’m trying to communicate – the listeners are interpreting through their own lens of their own experience. And that can sometimes produce some unintended results.
Had a hard example of that yesterday. What I said – “Parents – the best gift you can give your kids is your great, Christ-centered marriage. Better than any car, toy, or money you could ever give them.”
What was heard – “If you are a single parent – you can’t give your kid the best gift.”
Now I can argue all I want that what I said and what was heard are miles apart, that it’s not what I meant. I can argue that – but to do so is to miss the larger and more important point. People listen WITH their story, with their baggage. I do it too. We all do it. We can’t help but do it. As a communicator, I better be aware of this because whatever it is I need to say – I’m going to have to get it through their lens.
That doesn’t mean I water down or compromise the gospel. It doesn’t mean – I tell them what they want to hear. It DOES mean I find a way to communicate what they NEED to hear in a way that they WANT to hear it. And I pretty much dropped the ball on that front yesterday in first service.
What I meant: Of all the gifts and toys and money and experiences that parents move heaven and earth to provide for their kids, the best thing they could do is invest in their marriage so that it is an awesome, Christ-centered marriage. So instead of living a kid-focused family nightmare – put Christ in the center, your marriage next. That will make for a great marriage and great home.
So if you’re divorced or a single parent – you can’t do this? Sure you can. You’ll obviously have other issues and hurts to deal with. Divorce or single-parenting is just harder and there is no way around this because God never designed for kids to grow up that way. That’s not to say all hope is lost. It’s not saying that a single-parent can’t be a great parent.
The bottom line is that God is bigger than our baggage. (And I did say that yesterday.) For all the junk we put ourselves and others through – God is bigger. There is nothing he can’t redeem and restore. Yes, there are consequences. And His grace provides. He came to give life to the full. So if you’re single or divorced or have had to walk through the wreckage of adultery – there is still hope. Because God can make all things new. For the single-parent, the best gift you can give is to show what Christ-centered singleness looks like, that God is bigger than our pain and hurt.
It was a painful but needed reminder for me yesterday.