When I fill out forms that are necessary for navigating my current existence, I sometimes come up against questions where my likely answer is not included in the possible responses. So I enter D/N/A or N/A.
Every day I deal with all sorts of messages that claim to be important enough for me to read, explore further or answer. It would be easy enough to open all of them—and enter the danger zones inhabited by hackers, spammers and phishers. It could also be easy to delete every one of them—and risk missing a critical piece of communication. The best way to handle all these messages is probably somewhere in-between. But how to find that place…
A few days ago, Chris and I were talking about the flood of e-mail and text messages that clamor for our attention. I wondered about the best way to filter the messages, somewhere between avoiding danger and honoring legitimate messages. She suggested a simple, guiding question: “Does this message apply to me in any way?” On top of that came her sensible advice: If the instantly obvious answer is “Not applicable” or “Does not apply,” delete the message, clean it out of the garbage files and go about normal life!
“Does not apply” acknowledges that not everything (or everyone) is immediately important. That, by comparison, my place in the cosmos is small. That I can easily over-imagine a sense of urgency. That I don’t have to feel guilt or shame by ignoring what comes my way in the online universe. That basic humility can guide my self-concept as well as my response to what swirls around me.
One connected, final thought: As God hears my prayers, God never disregards my hopes, needs or joys. God never writes “N/A” next to my messages….
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