Try Typing Before You Speak?

There are many things I am not. I am not really a phone person. (Although because I can be a people person, I can sometimes seem like a phone person. But generally speaking, I hate phones.) I am not a conflict person… I may create some, but not intentionally. And, whether I caused it or not, I don’t like dealing with conflict-y things. I am also not often what one would consider a clever or particularly helpful conversationalist in person. Perhaps that is just a self-perception but most of the time that’s one of the few perceptions I have, so I deal.

Anyway, one thing I am almost too good and too comfortable with is online chatting. Not emails as much as instant messaging, where both parties are present, although often in two distinctly different locations, and sharing in a real-time conversation via computer. Note I said “often” — this would be because I spend 5-days a week at the office sending various instant messages to people who sit within a stones throw of my desk. Actually less than a stones throw… I can throw a stone pretty far.

I have had a number of very deep, spiritual, personal kind of conversations over the years via one instant messaging program or another. One might call it “mentoring”. Or maybe “available”. Or better still, simply a friend. But nonetheless, that has become part of what I do and how I communicate with people who are geographically located all over the place.

There are many things about instant messaging that are less than perfect. You can’t tell how somebody is reacting for certain — only with a sense of who the person is in real life, or by discernment, can we get an idea of this. Also, some things literally get lost in transmission. I’ve had messages critical to the ongoing discussion never get to the recipient… the messages before and after, yes, but not the one that had the meat in it. If I’m lucky and catch on, I can resend it, but not always does it work out.

BUT… (apart from the obvious advantage of talking to these people in the first place) to me the best thing about instant messaging is the “think time” that it can provide. Granted, I am a fast typer and can let my response messages get sent off a lot quicker than I intended, sharing stellar remarks such as “that’s so goo” or “okya!”. But most of the time, the “think time” does apply.

I don’t take “think time” nearly enough in real person to person conversations (either on the phone or in person). Maybe I always feel the pressure to respond immediately, even without thinking something through. But when online, I can craft a somewhat witty response, or (on the other end of the spectrum) take a moment to pray or listen for the best response.

We’ve all experienced receiving a message where our out loud (negative) reaction is along the lines of “OH, come on!!! You’ve got to be kidding me!!” and our filtered reply is “oh really?” or “ok, that’s fine”, usually because there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. For some of us, we do this in person too… although many people don’t.

I like “think time” because it allows for a more quality response. By the time I finish typing my reply, having already re-read the typed out parts many times while typing the rest, I can immediately assess whether it is a good response… whether it is clear, kind, appropriate, spelled correctly…. any number of things. It’s just that smidgen slower (even for quick typists) in process time that it allows for the “think time” that is so easily discarded within the structure of in person exchanges.

Maybe I need to start typing my comments, questions, replies out in my head before sharing with the auditory world?

Having shared all of that, I don’t think I’m going to proofread this tonight. Hahahahhaa! Just more typing out loud.

Till another time, O live, people!!

Thinking About Discipline

Often I find that whenever I consider discipline or self-discipline I am focussing on a specific aspect or area of life.  Maybe it is discipline to rehearse music or do technical work like scales and studies.  Or perhaps the discpline of exercising regularly, or choosing healthy options when eating.  We often hear about things that will grow us spiritually, such as spending time in prayer, being still and listening for God’s voice, and studying the Bible.

New Year’s comes and New Year’s goes.  We say “this year I will exercise 3 times a week for half an hour” or “this year I will commit to read through the entire Bible”.  We set these goals, sometimes not quite so specifically.  I am very skilled at opting for vague goals.  I think somewhere along the line I felt this might increase my chances of success when I could re-interpret by years end.  For example, “I want to spend more time in prayer” or “I want to cultivate more intentional relationships”.  The only thing I can be accountable to is my original intention behind setting the goal in the first place.  There is nothing within these goals that truly define anything.

So, it’s mid-March and I’m going on about discipline and New Year’s resolutions and you ask “Why is that?”  Maybe if I applied more discipline in crafting a clear-cut blog post you might already have your answer.  But alas, you’re stuck with what you see.  As for the “why” of this post, it certianly isn’t because I have answers.  But I had a thought last night.  (Just one… I have a quota and I try not to go over it very often.)

What if we take a more holistic view of discipline?  What if we allow the motivation for our physical exercise to be a by-product of our prayer life which in turn helps us focus on others, who may be the people we end up exercising with and then later praying with?  What if we listen to podcasts of solid Scriptural teaching or audio books of C.S. Lewis (for example) while running/walking/treadmilling, or do memory work of Bible verses while we do push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups?  What if we practise our music for band, but make it part of our devotional time when we look up and reflect upon the words of the featured tunes?  What if getting up in the morning to meet with God could become the opportunity to literally walk with Him and talk with Him?

Just thinking…. but also wondering what discipline and lifestyle really are about.

Until another random thought… O Live, People!

Have we “caught the vision splendid”?

We have caught the vision splendid
Of a world which is to be,
When the pardoning love of Jesus
Freely flows from sea to sea,
When all men from strife and anger,
Greed and selfishness are free,
When the nations live together
In sweet peace and harmony.

(SA Songbook #833)

I sit in front of a screen a lot. I work in front of two of them. I go home and work, play, communicate in front of another one or two of them. I still watch TV from time to time. I’m not a big gamer, but I do enjoy a good game of Wii Sports or Guitar Hero. That’s a lot of visual, digital processing for my brain to handle in your average week.

Recently I have been pondering the draw to things digital and virtual. I’m confident that there are many papers written on the implications of our gazing into screens, including the addictive nature. I know I’ve proven it so in my own life, and in seems to be backed up with a lot of ammunition in the world around me.

In this recent pondering, I am particularly taken with the idea of the visual and “vision”. There was one time long ago that I remember playing real-life (actual cards!) solitaire SO MUCH that I actually dreamed about where to place the Jack. Such intense concentration maybe? Sure… but I also just plain played too much. However, I can recount a multitude of digitally influenced dreams and visions. Anything from dreaming about my programming assignments in university, to playing enough Guitar Hero (or any other video game) that I can close my eyes hours later and still see the fretboard with the notes coming at me. Sometimes not even needing to close my eyes….

Like I said, I am not a gamer. I have to choose not to be. I have too many already existing digital habits and addictions to cope with — I don’t need another one. But consider how much of the western population is taken with gaming. There’s some fun stuff, and a great deal of questionable and objectionable stuff… let’s just say I’m glad that my post-video game visions are of notes coming at me or bowling balls going down the alley and not wars and variations on the theme of depravity and iniquity. There is also a widely accepted demographic that makes up the majority of the gaming community – generally speaking, it is comprised of young males.

Joel 2:28 (KJV) reads:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

I wonder what visions our young men are seeing? What dreams our old men are dreaming? What foundation sons and daughters have to prophesy on?

It got me to thinking, we sing “Be Thou my Vision”. We quote the passage from Joel that this prophecy comes from, and many of us hope that it belongs to us here and now. But I can’t help but wonder if what we are doing and allowing into our sight is blocking our ability to view visions – whether visions of God or from God. If our minds are so filled up with visions of things we shouldn’t be watching on the small or silver screens, if our minds are so over-actively engaged and distracted with video games even after we’re done playing them, if our view is less than clear… then mustn’t that indicate something about what we are absorbing in the natural life? The possible spiritual implications of all our digital and visual bombardment in the modern day should be a concern, if not outright alarming.

I have no answers beyond that which I know is true: anything that I am choosing in my daily life which deafens, blinds, or removes me from what God has for me is a choice that needs to be re-made.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all