In the movie “A Perfect World” Kevin Costner plays a criminal, Butch, who has escaped from prison. He takes a young boy, Phillip, hostage. As times goes on, they become drawn to each other. Phillip has never really had a dad and Butch begins to teach him all sorts of things about “manhood”. In one scene Butch has just gotten Phillip some new clothes. They’re in the car and on the run, so he tells him to go ahead and change.
Phillip is hesitant (I get that the whole premise of boy being kidnapped is bad, but hang with me anyway). Butch basically says, “Is it because you’re embarrassed I might see your pecker?” Phillip says, “It’s . . . puny ” Butch says, “Let me see, I’ll shoot you straight.” Butch looks over with a quick glance and says, “Hell no Phillip, good size for a boy your age.” Phillip smiles.
Who interprets your life for you?
When I was in third grade I got picked on by some sixth graders. They threatened me on the way home from school. For the first time in my life as a kid, I was scared of injury from another person. I can still see that kids fist in my face.
In my third grade mind I was now weak. Once you have an interpretation other events begin to get interpreted the same way. In fifth grade a peer straight up punched me in the face as hard as he could. I didn’t even fall, but I didn’t fight back. I could have thought, “I just took that kids best punch and I’m not hurt – I’m tough.” Instead, I took it as another confirmation that I was weak.
All sorts of things are constantly happening to us and around us. Each time, we interpret what is happening and make agreements about what it means. Others help us interpret, starting with our parents when we are little. If you’re a parent understand this: One of the most important things you will ever do is speak interpretation into your kids lives. How you react, what you say and what they hear from you when something happens to them forms the base interpretation for their lives. No pressure. . .
We all deal with this of course, married, single or otherwise. But I think this affects the single person in an extremely significant way because many of us are asking, “why am I single?”
There are all sorts of people helping us interpret that answer.
There’s hollywood. You’re single because you are not a 10 or don’t have a flashy enough car or job. If I were 007 I’ve had all the ladies. I laugh as I write that but seriously, for a lot of us, the media is one of our main interpreters. We’ve grown up on it and the message is obvious. You’re not cool enough, hot enough, or rich enough to be loved back by another person.
There’s our well meaning friends. Mostly they tell us that there is nothing wrong with us, which doesn’t seem right, but we hope it’s true.
Then there is the Church. Usually this interpretation hinges on the fact that God has a plan – meaning that He has a Christian Soulmate for me. It them moves in one of a couple directions. Either I need to become better so that God will reward me with a spouse (this could mean date better, be content, wait on God, etc) or I don’t need to do anything because God’s perfect spouse for me just isn’t ready or the timing must not be right.
The worst part is that most of us, myself included for many years, have some sort of sick twisted combination of all of the above going on in our head. I’m not good looking enough (insert strong enough, rich enough, spiritual enough. . . etc), and/or there’s nothing wrong with me (men/women just suck), and/or God will bring me the perfect person but for right now (and apparently for the last decade) He’s just holding out on me.
How you interpret your singleness affects your view of God and vice versa. It affects how you see yourself and therefore how you relate to others. If we interpret it wrong, then we’re going to have a hard time figuring out our calling (celibacy or marriage), let alone our pursuing it.
What we need first though is God’s interpretation of who we are as a person. We need to grow in our identity in Christ. If we are going to do that, we will need to reinterpret a lot of things and we’ll need to let some people in to help.
Most of us are afraid of the truth, but in reality most of the time the truth is better than how we have interpreted. Either way we need the real actual interpretation in order to have a chance at true spiritual health.
Who interprets your life? What is your interpretation of your singleness? How sure are you of that interpretation? Who are you helping with their interpretation?