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« How Can Faith Be made Strong? | Main | Daily Readings - John 14:1-6 »
Tuesday
Jul252017

I wanna talk about me!

I recently finished the book Being There, by Dave Furman. It's a book I would recommend to anyone. It really made me stop and think about how I relate to those who are suffering. And further, it made me stop and think how I relate to people, period. Specifically, it made me think of how often, in conversation, I turn the topic over to myself.

One of the things that doesn't help someone who is suffering is to give that person a long account of similar suffering we have experienced. It doesn't really help someone who has a life-shortening neuromuscular disease to share my stories of having had a broken ankle and understanding what it means to lose mobility. The truth is that the situations are not comparable, and even if they were, my goal in talking to my suffering friend is to love and serve him, not bring myself into the dynamic. There are situations where mutual experience is helpful, for example, when fellow mothers deal with issues. It helps me to know that other parents have had similar struggles. But even then, we must remember that it's not about us.

Many years ago, I was driving with my family through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and a funny song came over the radio. It was called "I Wanna Talk About Me!" I have often thought about how that describes us all at times. I don't want to be that person, and I am sure I have been more times than I want to know.

This past year, two of my closest friends have experienced suffering. One lost her son and the other was diagnosed with a serious illness. I want to be helpful to both friends. I'm always the person who wants to do something or say something to make it better. The fact is, I can't make it better. I just have to learn to be there. Hence, Dave Furman's book comes in handy in that pursuit.

It's difficult not to become self-involved. We are naturally inclined to do so. It's also the majority occupation of social media. I'm just as guilty, and I'm making a concerted effort to say less on Twitter and Facebook. I don't need to announce on Twitter that I #amwriting. If I want to write, I'll just do it. It isn't more real if I Tweet it. And there is no one waiting on my every move. There is no need to respond to every infuriating comment. There is no need to announce to the world my brokenness and grief over my sin or the tragdies of others. How much of what we say is simply a way to turn the conversation back to ourselves?

One of the ways we can fight this fascination with the miniutae of our lives is to cut back on social media or use tools to filter what we don't want to see. There are some people on Twitter I just don't want to listen to. Unfortunately, some of the people I do like to hear from re-tweet the comments of those whom I'd rather tune out. I can use the "mute" function to ensure that I can ignore those comments. Of course the goal is that I'm not irritated by the obnoxious words of other people, but I'm a work in progress, and sometimes, I just need to avoid temptation to think bad things.

I can also be quieter on Facebook. I don't have to like everything or comment on everything. And I can be the kind of person who doesn't keep beating a dead horse when the conversation has clearly devolved into something entirely unhelpful. I had to leave a Facebook discussion group because it seemed that too many discussions were like that. And some of the participants were just too aggressive. 

Talking less about ourselves gives us opportunity to be a good listener. I like good listeners. I trust them. I don't know as if I'd trust me because sometimes, I'm too prone to say too much. I want to fix that. I'd rather be the kind who lives with the principle that less is more.

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