It was Monday, and despite how tired we were after a full weekend of ministry, we headed to Animal Kingdom to kick off our boys spring break with a bang! We knew that the week ahead would require us to be away from Michael and Ryan a lot and really wanted to spend some quality time loving on them.
The weather wasn’t great, mostly over cast and drizzly, but not enough to call it quits. We sauntered through the park and as we did, received some unexpected texts regarding conference accommodations for the next day, which unfortunately required our immediate attention.
We continued on as my husband and I addressed separate issues on our phones, when a couple moving at a slightly faster pace skirted by, looking at us with much disapproval. As they passed, the man proceeded to say, snarkily, “Well that’s great parenting!” referring to us both being on our phones at a theme park with our boys, I presume. I can certainly see how it may have looked that way to them, or anyone for that matter, if all they saw was that same 30 seconds of us.
“That’s not who we are at all !” I wanted to exclaim.
Those who know me well would tell you that the fact I held my tongue regarding this man’s statement was evidence of Jesus at work in me. GREAT PARENTING….are you kidding me? He was criticizing us for being on our phones knowing absolutely zero about why and passing judgement on our parenting based on their hurried encounter.
Ya’ll, can I just say, I wanted to sit them down and fill them in on just who we really are. I wanted to fire off a barrage of reasons why their judgement of us could not be further from the truth. Praise God for the Holy Spirit, who reminded me that their opinion matters not. They have no clue that we homeschool our boys, and that we are with them far more than most parents get to be. They couldn’t know we rarely miss a baseball practice or game, unless it’s completely unavoidable. Yet when we do miss something, we are sure to get there as soon as possible, even if we only catch a portion of the action. They had no idea that the very reason we were at a theme park was because we purposed very early on not to buy our children “stuff”, but to give them what matters most to us – quality time.
This couple is a product of a culture that has emerged and quickly taken root. A culture that tends to formulate their identity and the identity of others on seconds of data. Who of you would ever want anyone who happened to catch 30 seconds of your best or worst day on which to base everything they think about you? If it’s us on a bad day, its not the best or truest reflection of us at all. Similarly, if it’s our best day and everything is perfect, that’s not realistic either.
To me, the question then begs, how wise is it to ingest a paragraph, one liner, photograph, sound byte, scripture or article regarding anything and use it as a platform to base an entire belief system on? Doing so, often leaves us with a conclusion which narrowly resembles the authors original intent- if at all. Unfortunately, it happens all the time.
We have become a culture out of context.
We should always ask ourselves when reading our Bible, interacting with others, scrolling through social media, or watching a video, questions like…
~ Who is /was being addressed here?
~ What is/was the their culture?
~ When did this conversation or writing take place ?
~ Where has their life taken them?
~ Why are they in this situation?
It is imprudent to not investigate in whatever arenas we are moving in, lest we perpetuate this contextual living disease. Women of God, we have a responsibility to those in our sphere of influence to lead by example and model this well. To help them learn to remain as objective as possible until due diligence has been done.
Robert Evans says it best that
“There are three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.”
I have personally referenced this quote when mediating conflict and found it to be enlightening for both parties. If we’re closed off. rather than objective, then those we lead could grow to be the same. That, beloved could be rather costly in light of eternity.
Can this be a challenging adjustment to make? Absolutely! Is it impossible? No. Take it from an experienced crow eater, who is still learning and fumbling along, it is so worth it. This skill has been a tremendous blessing to both me personally and the ministries I oversee. Just think about it for a minute. We lead people, who are all uniquely, and wonderfully made. With that uniqueness comes different perspectives and experiences that can be tricky to navigate even with objectivity. Where do you start, you ask…with you! The best way to catalyze change is to begin with ourselves. This brings to mind a quote by an unknown author that we often reference with our team. The quote is…. “If nothing changes ….nothing changes.”
So when you encounter that sweet momma at her wits end with her littles, scantily dressed woman, or homeless traveler, it happens in a split second doesn’t it? A flash in time when we must choose how to respond. Regardless of the scenario, my prayer is that our response more, and more will be to extend grace. Pray, pray, pray, and offer a helping hand if possible. We don’t know what their day, week, month, or life has held for them. God’s word says in Ephesians 5:16, that we are to make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Is it then safe to say that every person we encounter is an opportunity? A chance for us to either be Jesus, or not.
Sisters, may we resolve, from this day forward, to be women who choose to walk in love and unselfish concern for all, leaving contextual living far, far behind us.
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Anita Cook, a spunky Texas native, serves in full time ministry along side her husband Sandy. They serve at Deep Creek Community Church in sunny southwest Florida. Anita’s heartbeat is to see women discover who God created them to be, and to walk passionately with the Lord. Nothing brings her more joy than seeing women walk victoriously with their King.
Her story is one filled of restoration, new beginnings and the grace of God as He turned ashes of pain into a beautiful, vibrant ministry. Anita is a mother to three amazing boys and one fur baby. She loves to spend time in the kitchen cooking and feeding a houseful of fellas.
You can check out Contagiousjoy4him & our statement of faith here. We Believe. You can check our Founder and Directors’s speaking schedule here. Find out more about Diane and our writing team.