As I typed out the title for my blog, I became aware of at least a second meaning. If my computer cooperates, and if I can make the connection clearly, I’ll add the second meaning in at the end of my post.
In the Scriptures
There are a few scriptures that talk about weights and measures. The ones that come to mind are the ones that talk about people using them in the marketplace to cheat their customers. Obviously, the Savior and His prophets stood against such a practice. It strikes me, though, how easy it is to use “unsound measures” as I compare myself to others and they compare themselves to me.
For instance, I have discovered, in a few circumstances, that there are those who look at my talents and feel that they don’t measure up. What they don’t seem to grasp is that they are often comparing areas in which they have normal talent undeveloped to areas where I was blessed with natural gifts and have chosen to spend countless hours studying and working to improve on those gifts. Some have made comments that suggest that my drive to accomplish things leaves them feeling a bit less. I wish they understood that being as driven as I am often feels like having a demon pushing from the inside, especially when I am tired enough to drop, but have to keep going because I haven’t completed enough items on my todo list.
Another area where I find myself using unsound measures is actually in fitness and weight loss. I repeatedly remind myself that I am working out because I enjoy the health benefits, but it is impossible NOT to notice that, as I continue the process, my body is physically improving. There’s nothing actually wrong with that. Where I run into trouble is in front of a mirror. In fact, I will be out running my heart out and see a woman who is in the weight range where I started, pushing herself to her limits, and looking like she’s feeling completely out of her element – and I will think, “I hope she knows how beautiful she is and how much good comes from sticking out the tough start.” Then, I get home in front of the mirror and notice that my middle still bulges more than “it should” and that my thighs still have “too much jiggle.” I will mentally begin planning how I can ramp up the next week’s workouts, because it is obvious that I am not trying hard enough.
I’ve also discovered that I have a really hard time forgiving myself for making mistakes, having bad days, or not being able to perfectly relate to someone. I will rake myself over the coals for months (and sometimes even years) if I say something in anger to someone else. It’s even worse when the other person refuses to forgive me – especially after I’ve made several attempts to apologize. The funny thing is that I rarely stop to assess where the other person might be at fault, forgive them, and lighten up on myself. I hold myself 100% accountable for all of the ugliness that creeps in.
The sad part is that every time I use “unsound measures,” I cripple myself and my ability to stay in touch with the Holy Spirit. I set unrealistic goals and expectations for myself and refuse to be satisfied unless I achieve them. I blind myself to the truth, I set a course that leaves me too busy to always listen to the delicate whispers that the Spirit uses to speak to my heart, and I cloud my mind with worries and details that tend to wipe out all of the teachings of the gospel that I work so diligently to fill it with.
As I was typing the title to this blog entry, it occurred to me that “unsound measures.” Also occur in music. When I teach the concept of a rest to my elementary students, I have to fight against the idea that you “stop.” I am very careful to use the definition that a rest is making a silence. If I don’t, my students do not learn to continue to be engaged in the music when they encounter a set of rests. I even go so far as to show them a clap and then an “unclap” for the rests. In other words, lengths of rests in music are “unsound measures.”
That led my mind to the idea of how composers control sound. Even my smallest students agreed that if every instrument played every beat all the way through a song, the result would be an ugly blast of sound. However, if all the composer wrote were rests (a la John Cage), there would really be no music. Especially if we define music as organized sound.
So it is with life. If all I ever do is listen to and sound off about my own ideas and perspectives, I am shooting a “wall of sound” out into the world, and there will be little that anyone ever gets out of my need to always put my own agenda first. On the other hand, if I never speak up about the things that are important to me, my contribution to the music of this life gets lost. The answer is to follow my Composer and Conductor (also known as my Savior, Jesus Christ) in both making my sound and keeping silent so that I can listen.
Unsound measures – they’re interesting when you really take a good look at them.