I barely grazed the surface of the Laurel vs Yanny debate before deciding I am not going to let the pointless debate rent any space in my day. However, as I was catching up on my Bible reading plan today, I read the following verses that brought Laurel/Yanny back to mind:
“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 HCSB
The prized crown for the winner of the Greek games would have been a Laurel wreath: a ring of twisted branches that would eventually whither. God’s Word encourages us to live with diligence: our way of racing for the unfading Laurel crown of finishing strong as followers of Christ.
I have been running hard these last few months. The Holy Spirit has clearly instructed me to finish the Bible Study for young women that I began writing several years ago. In obedience, I have pressed hard to finish strong. I have also been training my body with more diligence, spending money more conservatively in attempt to stick to our budget, and striving for more intentionality in how I parent our kids.
I am aiming for the Laurel.
But every time I do, Yanny gets in the way.
It is easier for me to hear apparently. I looked for the official definition of the word Yanny and couldn’t find one. Apparently, it is simply a cacophonous sound of distraction (the internet proved it). This is certainly true in my life.
The distracting voice of Yanny in my life comes in the form of instagram stories, Facebook videos, my own negative or self-loathing thoughts, my fears about the opinions of others, over-thinking simple things—your ultra-basic selfie problems. When I get stuck thinking about myself, whether thinking highly or poorly, I get trapped in the deafening dissonance of yanny:
- Shame on me for letting our son get a sunburn.
- I should have tried to sound more intelligent or witty in that conversation.
- Wow, my hospitality deserves a pat on the back.
- I totally need a break from this mom-thing.
- I am defeated.
- I am a rock-star.
- I am numb.
- I need Ben and Jerry’s.
I try to engage it, defeat it, overcome the “yanny” echoing in my head. However, my debate with the voices of my fleshly temptations or the worlds expectations is like training as “one who runs aimlessly or boxes like one beating the air.”
We might not have the cognitive or auditory capabilities of hearing Laurel instead of yanny. But we can choose the self-control of our awareness and intentionality to reach for the unfading Laurel of Christian discipline.
Here are some areas I know The Holy Spirit is coaching me to begin training in for godliness:
Bible reading: Spiritual nutrition is necessary, even if the spiritual appetite isn’t always there. I ask God to help me become less like a Pharisee about this–feeling godly because I checked it off the list. I want to feel more like a devoted child, who knows time spent with Dad is a treasure, even if it feels like we are just reading the morning paper together.
Prayer: We must connect with The Lord, because He is worthy, and it is what is best for us. He deserves our praise and worship in prayer, is big enough to hear our fears and complaints, and longs to have that kind of open intimacy with us that only comes through direct conversation. Right now, this discipline is the most difficult for me.
Journaling: it is like a soul detox.
Meditation: a re-centering of body, heart, soul, and mind, to come in submission under the authority and grace of Christ. This is my focus when I do yoga at home.
Fasting: Figure out what is “Yanny” for you, and take a break from it. A few months ago for me it was snacking. Now as Summer begins, I am going to take 3 weeks off from social media and online shopping/browsing to make a little more space for the voice of TRUTH to be more prominent in my heart and mind.
Worship: It is all about Jesus.
Fellowship: How can I get to know my Beloved better if I do not take time to get to know His Beloved: His bride, the church? I get more of Jesus when I spend time with His people.
Service: This is perhaps one of the best ways to siphon the Yanny out of my head. This week, I am in quarantine for being sick. So I write letters to encourage Gods people, and I pray for those I know do not have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus… yet. Activities that focus my mind on others energize me to tap into God’s heart. When I connect deeper with the truth of God, my heart and head clear of insecurity and selfish thoughts.
Scripture Memory: I almost forgot this one! Romans 8 is my goal this year, and the process is slow, but imperative for instilling truth deep in my heart where it can make a difference in my identity.
Isn’t it ironic?
I was quick to dismiss a superfluous internet debate as a waste of my time. However, when it comes to the actual voice of victory (by focusing on Jesus) vs the voice of defeat (by self-centered distraction), I realize I need to pay a bit more attention to what I am actually hearing.
Maybe you need to recalibrate your perception too.
Need a bit more perspective on Spiritual Disciplines? Listen to this short interview with Don Whitney from DesiringGod.org.
Feeling stuck in the self-centered spiral? I read The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller at least twice a year. I can not recommend this tiny book enough. It is a very helpful, Gospel-centered, focus-reorienting guidebook.