Sound Bite Malnutrition



As a grandmother of six grandchildren ages 12 to 23, I love connecting with them via text, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to try to stay connected in their busy lives. We live hundreds of miles apart and this is no substitute for phone calls and visits, but it gives me brief glimpses into moments in their daily lives.


I am sometimes kidded by them as well as my “senior” peers for being a techie grandma. (Of course, I smile at that.) There is really so much I don’t know about tech things, but I have jumped in with the help of children, grandchildren, and You Tube to learn some basics.


When I was their age my grandparents were all dead, but I had one great aunt who had moved from Ohio to Florida and she and I exchanged letters faithfully until her death. I loved writing to her and looking in the mailbox for her responses. (I still love writing notes and letters and am blessed to have one grandchild who seems to enjoy it as well.)


Somehow the handwritten letters gave me more of a sense of her. Not only did she take time to speak in full sentences and paragraphs, but her handwriting also allowed me to know her in a special way. (Have we forgotten the Bible is like that?)


I think we have all increasingly been adapting to a “sound bite world”. When we can’t handle listening or watching a full newscast, we get the sound bites, the headlines. When we don’t have time for lunch or coffee with a friend, send a text or Instagram pic.


That same style can creep into other parts of our lives as well. In the busyness of daily life and distraction, it can be easier to skim a brief devotional in the morning than to sit with a Bible in hand carefully reading and reflecting on what is written.


I get that!


We all can have seasons like that when the ages of our children or our parents, the demands of our jobs or ministries keep us moving from the moment our feet hit the ground until we collapse into bed at night.


IMG_3012I really do get that! I sadly led that kind of life during several seasons. One occurred while I was teaching full-time and going to graduate school part-time while trying to manage being a wife and mom. Another occurred when I was involved in working as a professional clinical counselor with enough church life ministries attached to comprise a second full-time job.


During the latter one I had not even taken time to clearly see what was happening for a while. At recent calling hours for a deceased friend, I saw someone who knew me during that season. She commented on how good I looked using words like “refreshed” and “brighter/lighter”. I laughed and commented that I was no longer working 24/7. She responded with a smile but with a serious tone and said, “You mean 36/7.”


I know many (perhaps most) of us deal with this. Then we get bogged down with the guilt that comes with the “ought’s” and “should’s”. I know about those too! I am not here to add to those, but rather gently remind all of us what happens to our spiritual lives when they are only nourished by sound bites regularly.


No matter how busy we are or what season we are in, there are going to be challenges. Our challenges will often leave us weary, worn, and worried. When those become relentless, then doubt, discouragement, and depression can soon follow. We can feel lost and alone and wonder if God has lost our address. (“Doesn’t He see what I am going through or facing?”)


I know He does and I hope you do as well; but when we are trying to keep going with sound bites and have done it for too long, even if we had a strong foundation of faith it can start to erode. If we never had a chance or took the time to build a strong foundation to begin with, we are in even worse shape.


It is time in the Word that speaks truth into the darkness. It is time in the Word that brings me hope. It is time in the Word that renews my faith.


I am not prescribing a formula. I am not one of those who suggest you read a Psalm or Proverb every day, even though that is not a bad thing. There are lots of great suggestions out there, but if we’re honest and we are in one of those sound bite seasons we probably aren’t even getting something like that done. If we try it, we will often be so distracted that we can’t focus well enough to be able to tell anyone what we just read 5 minutes later.


What I know and can say with assurance is throughout my lifetime, it has been the seasons where I could read longer passages and reflect more deeply that the foundation of my relationship with the Lord was built. When I was able to do that, I was building the foundation that got me through all those other times. Those longer times in my favorite chair with Him allowed me to know Him more fully. It wasn’t about a particular verse as much as it was knowing on an intimate level who He was.


If I only read in snatches or pieces and parts of the Bible, I can be like the blind man and the elephant. You know the story. Touching one part of the elephant gave him only one sample of the elephant and as a result he totally misperceived the truth and reality of the elephant. It can be like that with the Lord as well. If I only read about His grace and mercy, I miss His holiness and justice. If I only read about joy, I miss His sorrow and longing.


I also know that even on the busiest of days (even in the busiest of seasons) when I did not neglect to spend more than sound bites with Him, He never failed me. I discovered at the end of those days that I had been more productive and accomplished more than I would have dreamed possible.


Be careful to avoid “sound bite malnutrition” in your walk with the Lord. He has so much more for you…a bountiful table with everything you need for health and life and strength.


I like to remind myself that during the night while I was sleeping, He was not. He was watching, maybe like I sometimes took joy in watching our son or daughter sleeping when they were young children. He is also looking forward to me opening my eyes in the morning and starting the day with me. He has things He wants me to see and know and sometimes I like to think He just enjoys hanging out with me (maybe like He did with Mary, Martha, Lazarus and His other friends).





11 thoughts on “Sound Bite Malnutrition

  1. I love connecting with my grands on social media too! You are so correct. We need to connect in real life, not just social media. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  2. What a fabulous post! I have been trying to get this through to my children who are now 21 and 20. Boy has it been an epic journey! They now know when they come to visit that our house is a no phone zone and that they are for whatever time they are with us in the moment. Now to get them to practice in their day to day life!!

    Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous post with us over at Waste Not Wednesday!

  3. My grandchildren are still too young for their own social media accounts and even phones devices, yet I see how their life can be affected by ‘sound bites’ when I allow sound bites to be distractions too. I’ve started to leave my phone in the car often now. Fear of missing out could also lead me to sound bites of information as started to believe that knowing a little bit about as much as possible might be better than just knowing a lot about a few things! And focused is lost…I’d like to live my life as a full song rather than a sound bite of many that really wouldn’t sound good if any orchestrated! 🙂 Very though invoking post, Pam. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for all you shared here. I think all of us are dealing with how we manage all of these devices we have come to count on and enjoy so much. Thanks as well for you kind comments!💕

  4. As a young mom, I am realizing how important it is to spend the slow times building a good foundation in my relationship with God AND my family. I recently was hospitalized for 24 days with my most recent pregnancy. I was so thankful that I had focused on spending quality time with my daughter and husband the weeks before–not something I always remember to do. I used my time in the hospital to study and prepare myself spiritually for the coming days of NICU and life with a newborn. I definitely miss having so much time to dedicate to strengthening my relationship with God.
    -Stopping By from Raising Homemakers Linkup

    1. That’s a lot to handle, Charity. I will be praying for this season and so grateful the Lord gave you some quality time with your daughter and husband before being hospitalized. This is one of those seasons where you should not feel guilty about the demands of caring for a tiny newborn and another child as well. You’ll have time again beyond this season of right now. Congratulations and blessings on all of you!💕

  5. This is fabulous, Pam. As our attention spans get shorter and shorter because of aging or our endless obsession with screens {and hopping from blog to blog!}, it’s so easy for this to impact how we relate to God, how we spend time simply basking in His presence, how we approach His Word, the place we give Him in our days.

    I see the places where I’ve reduced Him to ‘sound bites.’

    God, have mercy.

    Basking. Yes, that’s what I’m aiming to do. Thanks for your wisdom, for going there today, friend.

  6. Wise words! I think this “sound bite” mentality is damaging to relationships, with others and with God. And we are cheating ourselves out of the strong, deep, abiding relationships that come with really investing ourselves in someone … and into the Lord. I agree that the more we read and meditate on the Word, the more we get from it. And the stronger our faith will be when hard times come. Blessings to you!

    1. I very much agree about the damage to relationships at all levels. I spent 25 years as a marriage and family therapist and saw it on the increase year-by-year. Thanks so much for your insightful words and comments.💕

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