Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Broadcast

Before a word is spoken, we've said volumes. 
(~ provoked by a recent conversation among younger folks)

We often assign great significance to the words we say and much less to everything else. Most of what we convey is nonverbal, though, as we broadcast a wealth of information about ourselves. There are facial expressions and gestures, tone and pace, posture and dress, focus and engagement; they all speak volumes straight from our soul, and we're perhaps unaware of how much we've revealed. 
To flesh out the context a bit, remember the last angry person you saw, or the person who is frustrated with your not meeting their expectations. Or picture the one who flaunts their wealth and privilege.
The cover of a book written
for teen audiences
Think of the one who exaggerates their appearance, doing their best to look physically appealing or available.  None of those memories require us to review the words they spoke. Each expresses a measure of health or brokenness, virtue or its absence. We see and are aware of such traits independent of any verbal content.

Little that we say is remembered by anyone.  That's painfully true, but the persona we broadcast is memorable to all; it's their take-away, their mental record.  While non-verbal communication is wonderfully imperfect and incomplete, it's still worth noting that we have indeed spoken volumes.  We've spoken by the opportunity we took to listen, by the patience we invested in hearing, the grace we offered via expression, the kindness we gave by gentle tone and unhurried pace, the encouragement we offered by interest and inquiry, ... and the respect we demonstrated by appropriate attire. The way we dress; that's the subject that popped up in a recent conversation.

At the Rio Olympics - Italy vs. Egypt
 - can you spot any cultural difference?
Young folks today discussing 'modesty' in their manner of dress ... are they talking about the same thing the early church was dealing with? Perhaps, but probably not.  Biblical references were mostly addressing fancy excess while today we're dealing with overt sensuality.  Those are cultural as well as character questions that challenge us.

We all struggle with such issues, of course.  We want to live in a manner that doesn't trouble our conscience.  The often unasked question, what statement do we hope to make?

Before a word is spoken, we speak volumes; apart from what we say, we send our message. Modesty in how we dress is perhaps more helpfully understood as just a part of that larger broadcast.

There's a long list of virtues we're encouraged to understand and develop as part of our identity, our character, our 'broadcast' to the world. "Let your light so shine ...."   How do we get that one right?

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