A portable toilet outside Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

Mixed messages and your relationship with God

After I graduated from college, I couldn’t find a writing job anywhere. The local newspaper had been sold and wasn’t taking any new employees. There were no marketing positions open. Nothing. I couldn’t even find a secretary job that would take me.

And that’s how I ended up as a sign language interpreter. Yes, a sign language interpreter. For a truly adorable little second grade girl in a public school. Not many folks know I did that, mainly because I didn’t do it for very long, only a semester. I really don’t think I was qualified.

Something I learned? Sign language is less about the hand signs and more about the facial expressions and body language. That surprised me at first, but then I got to thinking about “normal” communication. And it’s true.

Wouldn’t you agree that what you say is less important than how you say it? I mean, you can say the words people want to hear, but the tone of voice you use can communicate the exact opposite of what you’re saying. And more often than not, people listen to your tone or your body language more than the actual words you’re saying.

It’s the same way with your attitude. You can tell God that you want to honor Him and do what He says, but if your attitude isn’t turned toward Him too, all you are is words.

A portable toilet outside Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

A portable toilet outside Glen Eyrie Castle (which has lovely bathroom facilities inside, no mixed messages there), Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Matthew 15:11.

It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.

Whatever you have in your heart is what’s going to come out when you speak, whether you say good words or not. You can say good words and still tear people down with your tone of voice. You can claim to be doing what God wants while your heart is cold toward Him.

There’s nothing in the world you can put in your body that will destroy your soul. The only thing that can corrupt you is the attitude you already have in your heart.

So what is that attitude? Are you stubborn and willful? Are you proud and self-centered? Are you desperate to control everything? Or have you just convinced yourself that whatever consequences you’ll have to face for disobedience will be worth it?

When I was interpreting, I remember very clearly that there was one day–one day out of many–that I really felt like I did a good job. And I remember what happened that day: I forgot about myself.

I forgot that I was sitting in front of a room of second graders on a chair three sizes too small for me. I forgot that I really didn’t know what I was doing, that I really wasn’t qualified. I forgot my insecurities and my anxieties and for once I actually, really accepted my role as an interpreter and just did it. And it was great.

How badly do I need to do that with my life now? I really just need to focus on what God has called me to do–not worrying about what I’m qualified for or what I’m capable of or who will be disappointed or who will think I’m ridiculous.

But I want to do it myself. In my time. With my rules. And it just doesn’t work that way.

What I need is an attitude of honesty and humility. So instead of trying to communicate without facial expressions, instead of my tone contradicting my words, I want to embrace an attitude of wholehearted, genuine honesty. Instead of just paying God lip service and then doing whatever I want, however I want, I want to start doing things His way, even if I don’t think it will work.

How about you? When was the last time you told God something you didn’t mean? Did you even think about it? Or did it just roll off your tongue and you forgot about it?

So stop mixing your messages. God knows the truth anyway, and all you’re doing is confusing people around you. And you’re not doing yourself any favors either.

Best friends have to speak the same language

How important is it in a relationship to be able to speak the same language? What would happen in a relationship if you had a person from Japan trying to be best friends with a person from France. Nothing against either country. I’m just trying to find two completely different language roots and cultures to compare.

Now, if the person from France spoke Japanese, that would be one thing. And if the person from Japan, spoke French it would be the same. But what if neither of them spoke each other’s language and neither had any interest in learning? Would they even be friends at all, let alone best friends? I don’t think so.

Closeness in a relationship comes from being able to communicate with each other. And if you can’t communicate with each other, how do you expect to be friends?

This is the principle that came to mind when I read today’s verse, 1 Corinthians 2:14.

14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

Has someone who wasn’t a follower of Christ ever made fun of you? Have you ever been called foolish or ridiculous for believing in Christ? Have people ever looked at you strange when you share your faith and expressed that you aren’t making sense? If so, then you understand this verse.

A nonbeliever and a believer trying to understand each other is impossible. They can get along superficially. They can make friendship work on a basic level. But they are driven by two different motivations and part of being close friends is sharing what drives you.

Someone who follows Christ has the Holy Spirit. When someone believes in Christ, God sends the Holy Spirit as a guide and a comforter and as a link between Himself and us. Since Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden, our own spirits stopped working. They are stillborn in us as we are born and live our lives without Christ. But when the Holy Spirit comes into us, our relationship with God is restored.

And the most amazing thing happens. When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, our lives start to make sense. Granted, there are still things that happen that we don’t understand, but the Holy Spirit whispers that God is working everything out for our good. So even when the world is turning upside down, we can still believe that God will figure things out.

Beyond that, when you have the Holy Spirit, the Bible also makes sense. Did anyone ever try to read the Bible before they were a Christian? Did it make sense to you? Yes, there are portions of Scripture that make sense historically and logically (even though some people disagree), but the really deep truths of Scripture sound like foolish sentiments to people who don’t have the Holy Spirit. Because part of what the Holy Spirit does is to act as interpreter between God and us.

I was a hearing impaired interpreter in a second grade classroom for a semester. Talk about hard work! And the girl I interpreted for was only in second grade! It was my job to make sure that little girl understood everything the teacher said. Without me interpreting, she wouldn’t have grasped any of the concepts in the classroom because she couldn’t understand them.

Without the Holy Spirit interpreting the wisdom and the truth from the Scripture, we wouldn’t understand it either.

So where do we get the idea that a Christian and a non-Christian can be best friends? Now, am I saying that they can’t be friends? No. I have many friends who I love and respect and enjoy spending time with who have chosen not to follow Christ. That’s their choice, and I respect it. But are we going to be best friends? No. I live my life a different way than they do, and just as it’s their choice to live how they think is best, it’s my choice too. And they are my friends because they respect my choice, just like I respect theirs. But I can’t express the things I believe to them because they don’t understand.

My best, closest friends are Christians, either Christians who are my same age maturity wise or older. My best, closest friends are people who have walked with Christ for years and have faithful, deep, one-on-one conversations with God through the Holy Spirit on an hourly basis. And if in the unlikely course of events I am supposed to marry, my husband is going to have to be the same way . . . because that’s the language I speak.

It’s not about being smart enough. It’s not about being friends for long enough. It’s not about even giving Christianity a try or accepting that someone else is a Christian when you aren’t. It’s about speaking the same language.

And just like that person from France and that person from Japan, if they don’t speak the same language, there will be misunderstandings and they will eventually walk away from each other hurt because they tried to cultivate a deep friendship where there was neither common ground nor communication.