Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Fresh Take: On distraction

Time for the Sunday Fresh Take!  Let's talk a little about distraction and the impact it can have on our relationship with God.

You go to do some work at your computer and you end up checking your e-mail and forgetting about the work.  Distraction.

You intend to play with your kid and the phone rings and you end up talking for an hour and ignoring your child.  Distraction.

You head to the kitchen to make yourself a salad for lunch and discover the leftover pizza from the weekend so you eat that instead of a salad.  Distraction.

You engage in quiet meditative prayer time only to find your mind wandering to your to-do list and leaving any prayers to be recalled the next time.  Distraction.

These examples are good, simple examples of the way that constantly indulging our desires can negatively impact our lives.  There are so many distractions in our daily lives, ranging from television to our own thoughts, that it can seem impossible to have a good, pure, simple life.  The question ends up being, "Can we have distractions in our lives and still have a relationship with God?"  I think we can, but it will take a lot of work.  So how can we go about living with these distractions without impeding our ability to live a spiritually free life?  One step at a time!

The first step we can take is to take a look at our lives and discover what things we can live without.  Can we survive without television?  Cell phones?  Computers?  If it is impractical for us to go without these things (and so many others), could we scale back?

The second step towards reducing our distractions is practice.  When you go to do work at the computer and you catch yourself beginning to check your e-mail, stop and redirect your actions to your original intention.  When you sit down to play with your child and the phone rings, let it go to voicemail.  When your thoughts wander during prayer, take a deep breath and start over.  Just practice!

The third step to a life without distraction is to recognize the benefits of living without our distractions.  If you stop spending so much time on the computer, you may just find yourself feeling less aggravated from slowing running internet, pop-ups, and SPAM in your inbox.  If you redirect your thoughts during prayer time, you might start noticing your prayers being answered!

After all of the aforementioned steps have been implemented, you can start the steps all over again until you've learned to live a life free of distraction.  This will not happen anytime in the near future--it will probably take most of your life to acquire this kind of spiritual freedom.  However, it would seem logical that the sooner you take steps to minimize the distractions in your life, the sooner you would be able to achieve the freedom you desire.  There's a reason the bible so frequently expresses that the poor have favor in God's kingdom ("poor" as would be defined in the bible, though, not the gov't definition of poverty).

Indulgence isn't always a bad thing--after all, we are encouraged to celebrate and live lavishly during the Easter season as a reminder of the promises that God fulfilled through Christ--but we do need to indulge minimally.  We can take time to indulge in checking our e-mail, eating dessert, talking on the phone, etc, after we've accomplished what we set out to do in the first place.  After we've tackled the necessary tasks of life, we can sit back and briefly enjoy the fruits of our labor...until tomorrow when we start all over again.  It may be a continuing struggle for us, but the rewards will be everlasting!

Till next time...


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