Have you ever had a misunderstanding with a friend? Like a literal, verbal miscommunication. You said one thing, they heard another? There’s a phrase for it—maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you haven’t—it’s, “We’ve got our wires crossed.” You told your friend you should go to the new outdoor mall someday, and she heard Sunday – you got your wires crossed. Make sense?
The phrase dates back to a long time ago and possibly one of the coolest jobs anyone has ever had. Phones were attached to walls and there were no screens to push. People didn’t even do the actual dialing. There was a job called The Operator, you told her who you wanted to talk to you, and then she would literally connect your wire to somebody else’s wire so you could hear each other. This lady had to stay on the phone the whole time to know when you were finished talking and unplug your wire. I mean, think of all the stuff that the operator overheard. (I like listening to other people’s conversations especially at restaurants and coffee shops.)
Occasionally, as you can imagine, the operator made mistakes. You were trying to get connected to Bob, and you ended up talking to a random guy named George instead. Your wires were crossed. So that’s where the phrase comes from.
But now, we say it anytime things get mixed up. Like when you thought your mom said she would pick you up at the Wendy’s near your school and she actually said she’d pick you up Wednesday after school. Or your teacher said “you better finish this project Sunday” because it’s due the next week and you hear “finish the project someday.” It’s an honest mistake.
Has that ever happened to you? I can sometimes talk extremely fast and Caryn will tell you that sometimes I “man listen”, so it happens to me a lot. But the truth is, it can happen with anyone at any time… and it does!
At home, you’re surrounded by the people who can drive you the very crazy: your family. So, without a doubt, some wires will end up getting crossed.
At school, there are so many different demands from so many different teachers, not to mention coaches and counselors. And in your attempt to juggle it all, wires will get crossed.
What about with your friends? It can feel like you need a bomb squad to negotiate all the different wires. There are so many personalities, so much history, and so many things to remember. Getting those details mixed up, saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, and it can be like matching a red wire with a blue one instead of a green one—all of a sudden there are massive explosions happening.
The point is, it can feel like no matter where we turn in our lives, that there’s always the potential for crossed wires. With every relationship, there’s the potential for disaster. For hurt. For anger.
The odds seemed stacked against things going well, don’t they?
So, what’s the point of relationships if they’re just going to end up in confusion or conflict? We’re pretty much guaranteed that there are going to be misunderstandings and miscommunications. So, why should we even bother?
Here are a couple of ways we typically when wires get crossed:
We don’t care.
Maybe you think about all this—the potential blow-ups in relationships—and it just seems easier to not care what other people think. To do your own thing. If you make people mad, fine. Who cares?
We live in fear.
For others of us, we feel like we have to walk on eggshells. We have to filter everything we say and be cautious with everything we do because the potential for conflict is always there. We feel like we can’t ever truly let loose because, even with our closest friends, the tension is always there. It’s exhausting.
Doesn’t it sometimes feel like with all the wires being crossed in all the different relationships of our lives, it would just be easier to live in a cave? Alone? With Netflix, of course.
That would be nice, huh? Unfortunately, that’s not really an option. And though it may sound like a good idea now, ultimately, it’s not. And here’s why: You were wired for something different.
Genesis, the first book in the Bible, talks about creation. God created the Earth, the universe—everything you can see and everything you can’t. But for His very best creation—His last creation—He made man.
Then He breathed life into Adam and then He gave Him a job. God told Adam to get to work taking care of the garden. We aren’t told how long Adam was working solo. It could have been days, maybe years. But we are told that after a while, this paradise wasn’t exactly paradise to Adam. Because he was lonely.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. | Genesis 2:18a (ESV)
God saw that Adam was lonely and God said that it was not good. And so, God made Eve. You probably know this story of a marriage. But God wasn’t just saying Adam needed a wife. God was saying Adam needed someone to be around. Adam needed someone to talk to. Adam needed a community.
After a while of hanging around Giraffes and monkeys, eventually, they aren’t going to cut it anymore. Adam needed a person, and God gave him Eve.
So, yes, we certainly do have moments where living on a deserted island would be nice. I get it. I’ve been there. But God wired us for something different. Something challenging and hard, but something good.
God wired us for community.
I don’t know what you think when you hear the word community. Maybe you think about your parents’ homeowner’s association or your neighborhood. But a community is so much more than that. It’s a friendship. But it’s more than that, too. It’s a commitment to helping and bettering people, even when it’s inconvenient and frustrating.
Community is about connecting.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples what the two most important things in life are: 1. Loving God. And 2. Loving people. He said it this way:
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” | Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)
See, God made us for community. And it’s clear when we read the story of Adam and Eve that being in community is important. But Jesus takes it one step further.
Jesus says, don’t just be in community, love your community. Because here’s the deal: Loving God and loving people are connected. If we want to show God how much we love Him, we need to get really good at loving each other.
In other words, we need to cross wires without getting our wires crossed.
People talk all the time about knowing God’s plan for them. What is God’s plan for my life? they ask. Well, God’s plan for you is no secret: It’s to demonstrate who He is by connecting with and caring for those around you. God’s plan for you is to be in community.
And if you choose to live in community with those around you, if you choose to care about them, there are a few things I can promise you:
It’s going to be messy.
There are going to be moments where relationships get complicated. People aren’t perfect. And neither are you. There will be issues. And while messy is inconvenient, it’s also what God has in mind for us—to make our relationship with Him about caring for the messy people He loves.
It’s going to be confusing.
There isn’t a formula we can follow telling us what each person we are in community with needs. There’s no manual for how to handle everyone on your basketball team. And there will be times when wires get crossed, but that’s okay, too. God calls us to make life about the confusing people He loves.
It’s going to be draining.
Sacrifice costs us. Figuring out how to love and the time to love is exhausting. And that’s why God created coffee! Okay, I’m kidding about that part but, there will be times when it feels pointless. Regardless of how tired and exhausted, we are, God calls us to make it about the draining people He loves and not about ourselves.
You weren’t made for an island. You were made for connecting. You were wired for something bigger, messier, more confusing, and more draining. You were wired for something better.
So, the point in all of this is to cross your wires. To get involved in a community by being connected. There are two main ways you can do this.
The first way to connect to someone is through acceptance.
The hardest part about community is noticing how different everyone is from you. It would be a lot easier to connect with people if they were exactly like you—if they looked like you, talked like you, wearing the same kind of clothes as you do, listened to the same kind of music, laughed at the same jokes, and believed the same things you do. Sounds easy, right? Of course, it does, because basically, you would just be in community with yourself.
But the world is made up of a lot of people—a lot of different people. And you don’t have to go halfway around the world to find them. Start in your own family. Your siblings already act like they are from another planet. Your parents already act like they are from a different century. See, right in front of your very eyes, you have people different from you, challenging you when it comes to connecting.
But this isn’t just about your family. Look at your school. Next to you in Chemistry, Weight Training, or Band, you have people from different parts of the world. Different backgrounds. Different belief systems.
These are the people God wants you to connect with, too. And the best way to start is by accepting them. By not seeing their differences as walls to keep you apart, but as unique parts of them, you can appreciate and see God’s individuality.
Accepting people different from you is a way to appreciate and love God—and love others, too.
The next way to connect with someone is to serve them.
Once we have accepted someone, we can work on serving them. Serving someone starts with just being in tune with what they have going on in their lives. It means paying attention to the things that aren’t right, that they might need help with, or looking for opportunities to be a friend who simply listens.
Serving begins with caring. And caring for others changes us. It changes our hearts. It makes us more compassionate—more like Jesus.
And that’s where the magic happens. That’s when we know we are fulfilling the greatest commandment—to love God and to love people—when we accept and love others to the point where it changes us.
Here is the final challenge of this series. This week, go out and cross your wires without getting your wires crossed. Find a way to serve someone this week that is above and beyond what you would normally do.
This isn’t just about doing chores or your normal routine ways you serve your family. Try doing something is outside your comfort zone and if anyone asks why you are doing it, tell them that it is was God wants you to do.