Is listening a lost art? Has technology made us poor listeners? Technology has increased reading material significantly. But reading isn’t the same as listening.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that I can find the information I need in milliseconds and that I can write to friends and family and get a response with only a delay of minutes rather than days or weeks. It has made me more productive in my work. But computers have also made me impatient. I’ve come to expect a quick response in everything. It takes too long to write out a check at the grocery store so I slide my card. When it takes longer than 10 seconds for the receipt to print I’m tapping my toe. 10 seconds! Really? Sitting in traffic was excruciating until someone invented texting. We’ve become computers! We multitask every moment of the day! How the heck does anyone sleep? You can’t multitask sleep!
Is speed really that important? If I am multitasking, am I multitasking the right things; or the best things? Every moment presents a choice. As a wise man recently suggested, we not only have a choice between good and evil but also of “good, better or best”. Are we using technology to strengthen our family? Or is it tearing us apart? I saw a disappointing scene in the overflow section of church last summer. A family, who I thought was very close-knit, was sitting in front of us. There were plenty of empty seats so the 5 of them were spread out over 8 seats. As the speaker got a little dry the cell phones and tablets came out. In the overflow, we watch the speakers in another part of the building from a monitor. So they didn’t have to hide their devices from a speaker looking at them. The youngest is 4 and didn’t have a cell phone or tablet. She first leaned on Dad, then Mom, then each sister without the desired response. Then she started over. Maybe they were all reading scriptures but they weren’t all on the “same page” and someone was left out.
Since I first taught 7 year-olds in Primary I’ve liked the saying, “God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth to be used in that proportion.” But I’ve always felt like I’ve had a lot to say and didn’t know how to say it. Since the advent of the internet and I’ve discovered blogging, it feels like I’ve found my voice. I started out using it to share wildlife photos with my family but noticed non-family paying attention. I think the saying needs an amendment: “but He also gave me 10 fingers!” The added attention gave me courage – or maybe a false feeling of fame. Social media makes it possible for each of us to live like a rock star or movie star.
Recently I’ve thought, “What I have to say is probably not as important as what I need to hear.” I’m not an eloquent speaker. Even after a casual conversation I walk away thinking I needed to say something different and sometimes follow it up with a well-thought-out email. I’m sure my email has incredible wisdom in it. (hahaha) Social media gives us the impression that everyone cares about what we have to say; or at least, more people than I knew before. (If I was younger I’d think a lot more people care about my looks based on statistics of my selfies. – gag!) My statistics tell me how many people were “reached” or “liked” or “shared” what I had to say. This is not a satisfying voice: To put thoughts out there and wait to see if anyone likes it or comments on it. Has blogging changed my focus from listening to speaking? Even most (not all) of the comments I get are strangers paid to sound interested in my post so others will see their avatar and click on it because they are advertising something. How ridiculous is that! I don’t “accept” those.
I worked with a guy once who had had a near death experience. He talked about meeting Christ and having the choice to come back. I asked him what he learned from it. He said that loving people is the most important thing we can do in this life and that we should pay attention to what is right in front of us.
Technology can either improve our connections with others or it can disconnect us. It all depends on how we use it. The rising generation might be lacking some listening skills if we don’t help them navigate this sea of technology.
God made some beautiful creatures. We only get to see the male common mergansers in the winter months. He’s just takin’ care of business!
I need reminders. If I just need to remember for a few minutes I’ll cross my fingers until I can get to it. If it will be longer and, especially if I’ve forgotten it several times, I’ll write it down.
After I cleaned the oven I realized that I don’t need to remove my note!
But it’s Christmas so I have to go deeper…
If I haven’t mentioned it here before, I hate cleaning tasks because I can never get the object to look like it was when it was new. The Magic Eraser gets as close as anything I’ve ever tried but there are still flaws that cannot be removed with caustic cleaners and a good scrubbing.
Jesus Christ is better than a Magic Eraser! Of course it takes faith in Him (oven cleaner) and repentance (application) for Him to make us clean again. By accepting His gift we can develop Christ-like traits like humility (acknowledgement our own limitations), a change of heart (“sin no more”) and forgiveness of others as well as ourselves. Some flaws may be deep. But when we repent of our sins He forgives us and will “remember them no more”, D&C 58:42; even if it takes many times to get it right (“seventy times seven”, Matt 18:21-22) When we do our best, He not only makes up the difference but restores us so that we, to Him, are just like we were when brand new. That humbles me and I am so grateful to our Eternal Father for giving us the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
“The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent.” Boyd K Packer, “The Reason for Our Hope“
Sometimes we may want to put a sign on someone to indicate they need cleaning. But we don’t know their heart. God may be reading the sign a little differently.
You know the drill. All the leaves fall off the apple tree in the Fall. The tree looks dead all winter. But then tiny specs of green appear again in the Spring. Before long, the pretty, delicate, pink buds are revealed and then blossom. It’s kind of a relief when I see the apple blossoms. It’s a reassurance that the tree is not only alive but healthy and it will again fulfill the purpose God gave it. The blossoms make me smile.
We all have a purpose whether we know what it is or not. I believe it is through serving others (family, friends or strangers) that our purpose is revealed. Small, kind, acts or words that make someone smile renews hope. That, I believe, is the message of Easter. Jesus Christ gives old things new life and purpose.
The Weekly Photo Challenge this week was Joy. I looked at other posts and saw faces of children, nature photos and descriptions of the joy that Christ brings. I wondered what photo I could post that would exemplify what is joy to me. I thought of the baby girl looking at her daddy with awe. Then I thought of the photo our son-in-law sent us when our daughter delivered their stillborn son. Mama was holding her child tighter than I’ve ever seen her hold anything; staring into his face as she wanted to memorize it forever. Their joy in their other children was certainly amplified from that experience. Heaven now holds more joy than we might have imagined it would.
It got me thinking about what joy really is. Dallin H. Oaks said, “Joy is more than happiness. Joy is the ultimate sensation of well-being.” I don’t know if that is an uncommon definition but I think a lot of Christians describe it that way because of the peace Christ brings when we focus on Him. Elder Oaks added, “The opposite of joy is misery.” Opposition helps me to appreciate the good in my life. Contrast certainly helps to define whatever it is that is opposite. I’m just glad that it doesn’t take much misery for me recognize joy.
I’ve said before, I’ve never appreciated the sun so much as I have after living in Oregon where I can go for weeks without seeing it. Even when it is not cloudy, a mountain (mostly) hides it from my home during the winter months. While that may not be pleasant, it is a far cry from true misery. I’m not saying I want to experience true misery so I can experience true joy. I’m satisfied with the trials I’ve had and I trust that I won’t be given anything I can’t handle.
We happened to be driving down Hwy 101 this evening just before sunset. So we (and about 30 other people) pulled into Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. In typical meerkat fashion, we lined the edge of the parking lot watching the colors change, wondering if we’d be rewarded with a green flash. Some silently watched alone, others were arm-in-arm with a loved one. Parents tried to help children hold their attention on the slow-moving sun. We were rewarded even though I didn’t capture the best of the green flash on camera.
But once the sun set, the real show began. Colors slowly changed from yellow, orange and blue to pink and purple and it lasted and lasted.
So there it was; a few moments of peace and tranquility. It lasted as long as I was still and watched and took it all in. And now I have the memory to reflect on and to contrast. “men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Ne. 2:25.) He created us to have joy! I think this is one area where balance is not required. It only takes a short burst of pain to help me appreciate feeling good for a long time.
After all the preparation and anticipation is over, there is peace. Reality sets in. The day has finally come for Jesus’ arrival. He is here. Now what? Now we continue on; not as we were before our preparations started, but with a bigger heart and more willing to follow Him. Remembering how we felt when giving to others and recreating that feeling by continuing to give of our time and friendship and love. God submitted Himself to this lowly state of mortality to experience pain, sickness, heartache and evil. Why? So He would know how to succor His people (you and me).