Tuesday, April 30

I'm So Distracted: Why We Need to Find a Different Way to Live

I sat on the edge of my unmade bed, searching Pinterest for home ideas with half of my brain. The other half tried to decipher if the shouts and banging in the living room were worth getting up to check. Was that happy or argumentative shouting? Playful or destructive banging? It was hard to tell. Did I really want to know? If it was a relatively harmless argument, shouldn’t I let the kids work it out themselves?
The pull was strong to keep my Pinterest search alive, and the urge to investigate what might be going on in no-man’s-land was virtually nonexistent. There was bound to be something I needed to address — a behavior that needed modifying — but I just didn’t think I had it in me. The apps on my phone seemed like a much happier place to spend these minutes. I could scroll and tap my way to a flawless imaginary home, or I could go out there and grow my very own tension headache. Hmm … tough choice.
Except it actually was a tough choice, because parenting was calling. Was I going to let it go to voicemail even though I’m perfectly capable (and responsible) to answer the call? Why was this so hard?
When did my desire to attentively involve myself and counsel my kids fall behind my desire to do what I want, when I want? I don’t know when the switch happened, but once I realized it, I despised it and everything about it. My phone and other tools-turned-interruptions had become enemies, not the friends I thought they’d been.
The draw to temporarily escape the realities of life seems to plague me most when I need to do something important, like sleep, make dinner, work or look my kids in the eye. Interacting with the apps on my phone at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons serves as only a temporary high, leaving me frustrated with myself.
I’m guessing you might know exactly what I’m talking about. I know many of us struggle to stay focused. I also know many of us have a hard time sticking with the good and worthy pursuits right in front of us, things such as:
  • Building our relationship with God.
  • Studying the Bible alone or in a group.
  • Investing in our most important people.
  • Giving mindful attention to our work, from home or elsewhere.
  • Keeping our home tidy and functioning.
  • Making meals.
  • Having friends.
  • Helping others.
If our priorities are of utmost importance, how can we keep them in their proper place?
Proverbs 5:8 says, “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” This proverb warns us to avoid an adulteress and the places she dwells if we’re tempted, but I believe it applies here as well. Anything that tempts us to fall into sinful patterns should be avoided. In our case, true distractions could be the “her” in this verse.
What might it look like for us to heed this warning in Proverbs? Let’s use phones and the internet as our example. Avoiding temptation might look like:
  • Placing our device(s) in a room other than the one where we’re spending time with our family.
  • Looking up and putting distractions aside when someone speaks to us.
  • Setting timers for internet-related tasks to help bring us back to reality.
  • Taking a weekly day off from all apps and websites.
Discipline is a learned skill, one we must practice to improve. It’s imperative we find a way around what hijacks our minds, because what we want most is waiting.
Father, we love You. We want to honor You above all else. We come before You, hands open, asking You to help us live an undistracted life. May we bring You glory as we walk toward living a focused and intentional life for Your kingdom’s sake. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If these words resonated with you and you're struggling to stay focused on your top priorities, then you'll enjoy my new book, co-written with Anne-Renee Gumley, Shiny Things: Mothering on Purpose in a World of Distractions. Get your copy HERE
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