Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stop, Look, Listen ~ PART ONE

Dear Friends,

A friend who works at CSUN gives workshops to graduating seniors on how to enter the job market. Preferring to just text their resume, they’re disturbed to find that they need to network with those in their chosen field, build relationships and actually talk to people. A recent survey showed that the majority of those in their early twenties, prefer Facebook and Twitter communication over face-to-face conversations. The Boomer Generation likes to talk; the Millennial Generation likes to text. 

The younger generation seeks to have authentic, “real” relationships while communicating with each other using social media where many hide behind a fantasy version of themselves. For example: “Avatars” are personal icons that people use on-line, in social media communications and in on-line games to represent themselves. Instead of using a photo, you create a fantasy cartoon image of yourself. And to show you what they look like, I created one for this blog post that makes me look younger, smarter, thinner, kinder and hipper! I may keep the new me.

The sad thing is that people are creating fantasy versions of themselves, while hungering for genuine, authentic relationships. Sometimes, in the dreadful loneliness, they pretend. There’s a “boyfriend” app that young women can download to their phones and then create the perfect fake boyfriend who will send them thoughtful, loving emails. In Japan, an engineering company has designed and marketed a digital robotic girlfriend for the young, lonely Japanese man.

It’s not just the younger generations that are grasping for genuine, fulfilling relationships, it’s the older “forgotten” generation as well. As the largest living generation, the “baby boomers,” moves into their golden years, they are facing neglect by family and society and some are experiencing profound loneliness.

At the risk of oversimplifying, on one end of the generation spectrum are younger people who don’t know how to talk with each other and at the other end, is a generation with no one to talk to. It’s time for us to seek out multi-generational, multi-cultural relationships and become intentional about our conversations. It is too easy for us to lose touch with one another. It’s too easy for us to withdraw into silence. Too easy to use the excuse that we just don’t know what to do or say...

As a new driver, you were taught to “stop, look and listen” when you approached unguarded railroad tracks. I’m going to suggest that we take this wise instruction and apply it to our conversations with those who God brings into each day of our lives.

STOP what you are doing and pay attention to the other person. Last week, sitting near me at a restaurant were fourteen people celebrating a special family occasion. Grandchildren talked with grandparents while the six parents spent the entire time with their phones and ignored each other. 

God cannot use you for His plans and purposes if your primary purpose in life is to keep your Facebook updated. If you are seeking those God-ordained, Spirit-directed encounters and conversations, you may need to stop what you’re doing and just be with people. When those in need called out to Jesus, He stopped, looked at them and listened to them. Matthew 20:32 (NLT)

LOOK at the person. Making eye contact, tells the other person that they are important to you. It tells them that what they are saying has value to you. It has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul and when our eyes meet, we are, for that moment, connected with one another.

LISTEN to the other person. Last Saturday, I overheard a conversation between two women who were in their late 40's to early 50's. One was saying, “..and then my daughter told me, ‘Would you put down your phone and just listen to me?’” 

Listen to their words and listen past their words. Listen to their heart. We automatically ask, “How are you?” They automatically respond, “I’m fine, how are you” and if we’re not listening, we may miss the pain behind the words and that they are not fine at all. 

Lord, open my eyes that I don’t miss Your divine encounters with those You send to me. Open my ears, Lord, that I may listen and really hear them...  
(to be continued)

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