Attend Without Distraction
Summertime is in full swing, and I’ve been working hard to find activities for the kids that don’t include letting them be completely distracted all day every day by electronics. It’s so disturbing to catch them watching television and ask them a question, and have them completely ignore me like I’m not in the room. How is it that we can place such a deep focus on an entertainment and have such a hard time keeping our focus on Scripture?
Like last year, I’ve reinstated the Helper Buck system to give them a little more incentive. For a small chore, like helping sweep the floor after church camp or helping stack chairs, they can earn either $5.00, $10.00, or $25.00 in helper bucks. And it’s been great. The kids are learning how to do a lot of different kinds of chores–all their volunteer work and completely their idea.
Once they’ve accumulated the bucks, the kids spend them on either a toy they want (Ten helper bucks = $1.00 of real cash), television or computer time, or a trip to the frozen yogurt place up the street. What I’ve noticed is that the kids are doing a great job keeping up with their electronics usage, limiting themselves to exactly the amount “purchased,” but I have to stop them and pull them out of the trance to tell them that time is up.
Which makes me think about my time spent in writer’s block last night. Edited a paragraph or two, noticed a Facebook notification pop up, checked it, decided to check email, too, while I was at it. saw the Goodreads tab I’d left open, and worked a bit on a review I’d promised a friend. Even though I’d just logged in, I refreshed the page on one of my writing forums, again seeing if I’d had any notificaitons. As my mind hopped about and my fingers mindlessly scrolled, the minutes ticked on. And before I knew it, it was 1 am and I’d accomplished very little toward my goals. And even worse, I dozed off in my evening prayer and stumbled through my Bible reading this morning.
Just like the kids, I find it so easy to be distracted by the Internet and electronics. I justify–I NEED my phone to check the weather. I NEED to check my work email and take care of this as soon as I see it so I don’t forget. I NEED to post pictures and such so distant family members can keep up with the kids. And I find myself envious of the women from Bible times–after all, they didn’t have to fight all these digital distractions. And they didn’t have to go to soccer practices and long, boring meetings. In fact, they probably sat around their tables and focused on their nightly Bible reading without ever wandering a thought. Right? Right? Okay, probably not. In fact, I’m sure Satan threw distractions their way, too.
During the peak of my writer’s block last night, I stumbled on I Corinthians 7:35
And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
Wow. Did I ever need to hear that! There’s actually a verse in the Bible mentioning distraction specifically. So, I went back this afternoon and reread the whole passage of I Corinthians 7 to get the context. Though the passage is about being married or unmarried, one theme resonates, which is about abiding in the calling for which you are called, and placing yourself under the best circumstances that will keep you unspotted from the world. A distracted Christian cannot effectively evangelize. A distracted writer cannot finish the story. A distracted mother cannot manage her household and raise Christian kids.
I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to not be distracted. It’s not intentional for our minds to wander. And the temptation to be pulled from our focus is ever-increasing. He’s not going to take away our temptations–we must overcome them instead.
So, kissing the kids and sending them to bed, closing out of WordPress, Logging off Facebook, turning off those little notifications on my phone. And then, one hour of clear-purposed, focused writing, and perhaps I could give myself some helper bucks when I’m done.