Do you have Betty Haynes Syndrome?

Have you ever watched the movie White Christmas? The song White Christmas is the number one selling Christmas song of all time.  But this story is about the film itself, and its relationship to almost every Hallmark movie, and to our own lives as poor listeners.

The movie White Christmas came out in 1954. It starred Bing Crosby (as Bob Wallace), Danny Kaye (as Phil Davis), Rosemary Clooney (as Betty Haynes –  George Clooney’s aunt), and Vera-Ellen (as Judy Haynes).

Here’s a brief synopsis of the movie, White Christmas. Bob and Phil are World War II, veterans and a very famous song and dance team on the night club circuit as well as on Broadway. They meet up with Betty and Judy (who are also entertainers) at a night club after they find out the girls brother was in their army unit. They all end up going to Vermont together to vacation and entertain at an inn that ends up being owned and run by Bob and Phil’s, now retired Commanding General, from their old army unit. It doesn’t take them long to see that the inn isn’t doing well, so they decide to put on a Broadway-style Christmas show to attract customers, and they include the girls in a lot of the acts and numbers. Yes of course romances ensue, but so does misunderstanding because of not listening to the whole story.

While on the phone to a producer Bob is discussing the show, when Betty picks up another phone in another room (yes back then they were all connected and you generally only had one line). She overhears part of the conversation by the show’s producer who is telling Bob, they could really do it up big and make a lot of money using the sympathy angle for the general. Judy, very upset, hangs up, but never hears Bob’s response of no! He responded to the producer that no one will make money on this show, all the money raised is going to help the general.

Of course, now she (Betty) won’t talk to Bob, gives him the cold shoulder, and eventually leaves the show (story to continue later)

Now, let’s fast forward to current day, and Hallmark movies. My wife and I love Hallmark shows, movies, and especially their Christmas movies. They are very predictable movies but at the same time, fun and heartfelt. Betty Haynes syndrome is seen at almost the same time of any Hallmark movie (1 hour and 40 minutes in). There is generally a miscommunication or a partially heard conversation that causes a temporary break up until about the 1 hour 51-minute mark of the film. At this time, either the guy or girl finds out that they misunderstood something or didn’t hear the story correctly or is enlightened to the fact that they are making the wrong move in their lives. All because they didn’t listen to the whole story!

How about you? Do you listen to the whole story? Do you let people explain, and speak without interrupting? In Mark 4:23, Jesus says, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus is telling us, it’s important to hear His stories/parables, and to pass them on to others. It’s essential to listen to what He has to say and get the whole story, so when we do share the Gospel with others, we’re sharing it correctly and totally.

This idea crosses over into everyday life too. Listening to others is important, and it’s essential to hear the whole story, not interrupt and compare it to something you’ve done in your life. How many times have you had someone interrupt a story you’re telling, and say something like, “Oh yeah I had a friend have the same thing happen to him.” What a great conversation stopper!

As Christians, we need to be Disciples (learners) and what better way to be a learner than to be a good listener. As I mentioned in my book, “Adventures in Youth Ministry,” How many mouths did God give you? One. How many ears did God give you? Two. So if he gave you two ears and one mouth shouldn’t you listen twice as much as you talk. It’s important to listen to people when they need/want to talk to you. Give them your full attention, hear and listen to the “whole” story, not part of it, and get it all wrong. Don’t interrupt when others are talking to you about critical things in their lives unless you need clarification on something. They need two good ears to bend, not a mouth to compete with.

Oh, I almost forgot, the White Christmas story. Betty caught a TV special (yes we had them in 1954, complete with antennas) where Bob was being interviewed, and she got the “whole” story. She came back to the show. And they lived happily ever after. Well, in Hollywood anyway.

Just think, Betty could have avoided all the anxiety she put herself and Bob through if she had only listened and gotten the whole story. Listen to God, listen to others. Use your ears, not your mouth when others need you the most. They also come in handy for listening to God 🙂

Joe G

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