Have you ever just divorced yourself from being a consumer, and sort of stepped back and objectively observed the behavior of a typical cell phone user?
It’s quite entertaining, cell phones are just funny. Everybody’s got to have one (I’ve got 5). And you take it with you wherever you go, because, well, someone might have to talk to you.
I’m convinced there’s some chemical reaction that happens in our brains when a cell phone rings. People can recognize a cell phone ringing from a mile away. You can be in the middle of grand central station, someone’s cell phone will go off and immediately everyone’s heads will turn, and everybody thinks the same thought…”somebody better get that”. And you can’t think of anything else till it’s answered, all ears are collectively riveted to that ring till it stops. It’s like some neurotransmitter is blocking all other synapses till that ringing stops.
All you hear about these days are cell phones; plans, rates, minutes, coverage, new phones, etc. A new phone will come out, and I’ll literally think “I’ve got to go get it! I could get better reception! I could get better battery life! People will be able to get a hold of me better!” It’s insanity, I have 5 cell phones with 3 providers.
And it’s all about reception these days, reception and coverage. Have you ever been driving down the road when someone calls you? First, you really feel important because hey, someone is calling you! And if you have a flip phone you feel extra cool as you open it crisply with the practiced flip of your thumb.
But have you ever picked up the phone and realized you can only hear two or three words a sentence? You’ve got a bad reception! There goes that brain chemical…
I don’t know about you, but in instances like that, I’ve actually panicked. So what’s the first thing that you do? You take your eyes off the road to check your reception. You’ve got to see how many “bars” you have. Now this is a scary moment. Not because you’re concerned you might crash as the world flies by you on the road, no, it’s because you’ve removed the phone from your ear and in that critical 2-3 seconds the person on the other end just might say something that you’ll miss. You end up doing this funny little jerk-motion to see how quickly you can look, then get the phone back to your ear.
So you take the risk and look at your phone, and realize you’ve only got one bar. There’s something strange that takes place when you realize you only have one bar. It’s like an autoimmune response of the body. Immediately those chemicals flow from your brain and you begin frantically searching for any way possible to improve reception!
In times like this I’ve found myself suddenly accelerating, somehow trying to get out of this “dead zone” as fast as possible. I’ve even found myself changing lanes! Somehow thinking “you know, maybe if I move 10 feet in THIS direction suddenly it’ll get better”! Insanity.
But even if you’re not in your car, you still find this autoimmune response active. You see people ducking and weaving their heads, hurrying out into the open, all the time shouting “can you hear me now!?!”
The bottom line is this…we spend a lot of time worrying about our cell phones, worrying about coverage and reception, wondering how many bars we have. But how often are we even considering our spiritual reception? We’ve got these finely tuned autoimmune responses that detect and react when our phones go choppy, but we’re not nearly as sensitive and quick to react when we lose connection with the Holy Ghost.
Otherwise we’d hear people walking around saying “can you feel me now?”
With a cell phone, there are simply places where the signal from the towers just won’t penetrate. Similarly with the spirit we go places, or find ourselves in situations or conversations all the time where our spiritual reception drops, or where the spirit just can’t get through. How crucial it is to be as sensitive to that dropped connection with the spirit, but it’s just not something we’ve “dialed” in to. It’s somehow less real.
I hear people asking each other strange questions like “how many bars do you get in the delta center?”, like it’s some sort of universally understood trivia game, and people will know. “How many bars do you get in up at Snowbird?” or even more specific, “You know that stretch of freeway on I-215 East side southbound, by the airport? How many bars do you get there?” People can answer that.
We need to be equally adept at knowing and recognizing the instances of the spirit in our lives; equally concerned when those instances become infrequent; and equally sensitive to feeling when that spiritual reception drops. We need to ask ourselves, with much more regularity with regards to our spiritual sensitivity…”how many ‘bars’ do I have right now?”
So how DO you acquire this spiritual sensitivity? How do you increase your familiarity with the spirit, and become agile in getting it back when it leaves?
One method, I’d say, has a lot to do with frequency.
I travel a bit, and it never ceases to humor me, how often people will talk on their cell phones. It’s not uncommon when I’ll hear people walking into the airport on their phones saying “Okay, I just got to the airport, I’m ‘gonna go get checked in”. Then, moments later, they’re back on the phone “okay, I just got through security”. Then later “my plane just arrived, we’re boarding now”. Then “Okay, we just landed, I’m going to go get my luggage”, and then yet again when they finally get out to passenger pickup.
Is an airport experience really so entertaining that people WANT a blow by blow report? I don’t think so, I’ve BEEN to the airport. I think it’s simply because we can. You know, in the “good ‘ol days” you used to simply send your itinerary to whoever was going to pick you up, they’d check to see if your flight was on time, and somehow, magically, when you walked out of the airport there they were! How in the world did they do that?
You see people in meetings, in school, on vacations, everywhere on their cell phones, and when they’re not talking on it they’re “text messaging”.
Have you ever tried text messaging, it’s one of the most inefficient methods of communication, and designed terribly. We took a 12 button phone keypad and turned it into a 62 button keyboard. It takes 5 minutes to write one sentence, and yet we do it! We’ll undergo tremendous pain just to make sure we’re communicating.
How has this happened? Somehow the cell phone has made communication real, tangible, immediate, and convenient.
I actually think that if Heavenly Father got a cell phone, we’d talk to him more.
I can just see kids in school, with their cell phones out text messaging….”H-e-a-v-e-n-l-y F-a-t-h-e-r,…t-a-k-i-n-g t-e-s-t… d-i-d-n-‘-t s-t-u-d-y …..NEED HELP!
Of course he could set us all up on the “Family Plan”, there’d be no such thing as “weekend” or “rollover” minutes. I can see the ad now…
Best coverage available
Pray as you go
With heavenly mobile you get more spirit in more places.
But why does it take a cell phone? Does it somehow become more “real” for us to have an actual device in our hands…”This is how I talk to my Father.” Why doesn’t prayer suffice?
It does, the only thing a cell phone has going for it, is that we use it all the time. I guarantee that if you begin to pray with as much regularity as you talk on the phone, you’ll find yourself much more capable at discerning the spirit. Its companionship will much more constant and durable. And its departure will become much more easily recognizable. This is the key. If you want to boost your ability to recognize the departure of the spirit, increase the regularity of when you feel it, so that when it leaves, you can literally feel it leave.
Keeping your phone charged
Certainly we can increase the regularity with which we do the big things, like attend the temple, but what’s most important is the day to day things, reading scriptures, saying prayers, having family night (our kids are RELYING on us to make sure they feel the spirit), and other more common, but daily events that keep us spiritually charged (which I talk more about here, and here).
If you want to use your cell phone, you have to keep it charged. You plug it in. I’ve seen the terrified look on people’s faces when they go to use their cell phone, because they need it, and they find they forgot to charge it.
We’ve all been there, we go scrambling to find someone with a similar phone who may have a charger. They’ve built these little “charger stations” in airports and other places now where those who forgot to charge their phone can pay to get a quick boost. You can buy all kinds of “charger accessories” now, where you can charge it in your car, on the go, you can buy extra batteries, and so forth.
How much more terrifying is it to find ourselves in a situation where we desperately need the guidance of the spirit, but we find that because we’ve not invested the small daily time to pray and study the scriptures, we’ve lost its companionship? We were not spiritually charged.
Reception – based on location.
One more way to help ensure your ability to recognize the spirit, and be sensitive to its presence, is by focusing on your location.
We’ve talked about cell phone users walking around trying to find somewhere with better reception, rushing into open areas, ducking around corners, trying to find someplace with a clear reception.
In the church we have a phrase for that…”Stand ye in holy places”.
Certainly it’s not always feasible to literally stand in holy places, but we can also make our own holy places by sanctifying where we are with righteous works. You can make your bedroom a holy place by making it a sanctuary of the spirit. A place where you study and pray: a place where you listen and learn.
By standing in Holy Places, you’re guaranteed a powerful reception, and the more regularity with which you put yourself in places like this, the more stark the difference will be when you suddenly find yourself without. What’s more, by knowing the moment of it’s departure, you can more quickly identify what caused it to leave, and it’s far easier to retrieve right then, than hours later, days later, weeks later, or years later.
No busy signal
God lives, our Savior lives, the Holy Ghost is real, and the three of them work constantly for our benefit. They’re always available. You’ll never get a busy signal if you reach out to them. We’ve been given the gift of the spirit and the companionship of the Holy Ghost as a solid testimony of the love of God and his never ending interest in our eternal welfare.
It’s crucial for us learn to recognize the spirit, to understand the way it works, and to give adequate urgency to maintaining his companionship. Our capacity to recognize the spirit and tune ourselves to its promptings is one of the most important keys to spiritual success in this life.
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