Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Attention to Detail

When a person goes into a job interview, a highly coveted skill on a resume would be if the interviewee could claim they have fine attention to detail.  It's not something every person is born with, but imagine how this skill might be important.

Imagine the heart surgeon who does not know how to pay attention to details.
The mechanic that cannot pay attention to details.
The book editor who cannot pay attention to details.
The drunk driver who cannot pay attention to details.
The drug maker who does not pay attention to fine details.
The spelling bee competitor who cannot pay attention to details.
The mathematician who does not pay attention to details.

There are a wide variety of details that we can or cannot pay attention to in our lives.  Keeping focus on one thing at a time is something that we are hard wired to do, but the detail with which we focus is always variable, depending on a myriad of things.

For some, it could be interest level that keeps or displaces our focus.  For others, it's brain chemistry, or sometimes brain damage or excess growth.  For others, it's simply time and energy, for if these are lacking, sometimes the other factors don't even matter.

I, for one, have special arenas where I am good at keeping focus, and others where I am not.  As a young girl, I was criticized for always being late.  So I have fine attention to time ever since, however it is still difficult for me to show up places on time.  Many of the involved factors have little to do with me personally, but I can always find ways to improve in arriving on time.

I am also good at caring about how to spell people's name.  My first name is Jennifer, so this can be hard, as there are even multiple ways to spell this as a nickname.  Jen, Jenn, Jenni, Jenny, Jennie.  But don't get me started on my last name.  Inevitably no matter where I go, it is spelled wrong.  My children will receive certificates of completion or other awards, and it is a rare occurrence to have it spelled correctly.  It's gotten to the point where I laugh about it and rarely bother to correct anyone, but I also notice that whoever is spelling it has not paid attention to detail.

One detail that I notice increasingly is eye contact.  Also in an interview, eye contact is crucial.  I tease my husband because he has an extremely hard time looking anyone in the eye for more than a moment at a time.  He is more comfortable looking away from me during a conversation, than directly at me.  Why?  No idea.

I also notice this at church.  Growing up in a small town, I knew everyone's name at church.  Walking down the hall, I took great enjoyment in being able to say hello to everyone, and having them look me in the eye.  There were probably only a few exceptions to this, and it was probably the cute-ish boys that I was too awkward to say hello to.  Beyond that, I knew everyone, and for the most part, we greeted one another.

Now, I know almost everyone still, but it's a crap-shoot to know if those walking past me will look me in the eye and say hello.  It's not just in my growing ward, but in my previous ward as well.  The church is growing larger, however I don't know if it's because we just don't have time to get to know everyone, or the lack of caring to express basic greetings or recognition of one another.  I suppose sometimes it's because we don't want to get to know everyone, or perhaps we don't want to have the chance to be stopped for communication.  So we put on the blank stare and carry on walking down the hall with tunnel vision.

But the commandment is to love God, and then love our neighbor as ourselves.  If we don't have capacity to look people in the eye and simply say hello, what does it say about how we love them?  If we don't have the care, concern, or capacity to love others, even for a moment in a greeting, what does that say about how comfortable we are with ourselves?  Do we love ourselves?  Do we consider God's love for us?  Are we willing to look at ourselves with such detail?  Is it uncomfortable?  Why?  Is it possible we'll find things we don't like, and don't know how to address or overcome them?

(photo source)

We can compare just about anything in life to an iceberg.  In this case, I'll compare our weaknesses to one.  We see a small piece of ice above water (liken it to ourselves), but a giant piece of us is hidden underwater.  As it's hidden, it may be hard to recognize that it's even there, much less take a moment to examine it.  If we consider that the unknown areas might contain hidden weaknesses, what does it take to examine it in full, to help those weaknesses to be rectified?

Christ says
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)
As in all things, Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, the light.  To get to the Father, we must examine our faults, our weaknesses, and apply Christ's grace.  For it is sufficient for those who will humble themselves.  It's like an equation.  Jesus' grace + our humility = strength through Christ to ourselves.  
What are your weaknesses?  Do you dare take them to Christ?  

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