This post was inspired by Five Minute Friday’s prompt: Discover. Two rules: 1) Freewrite for five minutes 2) Don’t edit. (I broke all the rules.)
Maybe this isn’t you – you don’t suffer from distractions. You’re ultra-focused and a productivity maniac. If you are, I’m totally jealous, but I’m also totally willing to learn from you. Would you be willing to leave a comment sharing a tip with how you stay focused?
For the rest of us, while it may not appear on the surface to be a super spiritual topic, distraction can wreak havoc and keep us from accomplishing what we know we’re meant to do (or to discover what that is in the first place!).
Two nights ago, I sat down to write, but somehow I ended up online taking a right-brain/left-brain quiz instead. In my defense, I was researching an analogy – that didn’t end up working – but did you know they’re now saying it’s a myth that we’re predominantly one side of the brain or the other? Um, anyway, if the tests were reliable, the first five indicated I’m equally split down the middle, which I already knew. (But I had to take three more just to be sure.)
Right?! How ridiculous is that. I’m ashamed to even admit it.
What do you do when you have work to accomplish and needs to meet, but distractions of every kind lure you here, there and everywhere?
Don Perrini, Professor of Creativity and Innovation and Director of the Creativity and Innovation Honors Institute at Cornerstone University spoke about “getting out of our own way” at a plenary session at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference I recently attended. He said, “the voice of resistance always starts when you’re about to do something important.”
True, isn’t it? It doesn’t bother us when we’re online wasting time taking eight quizzes or eating another can of Pringles. But as soon as we’re onto something important – BOOM! Out comes resistance. Slicker than a snake. Spouting lies about how much time we have so it can wait, how unimportant or boring the work is, so why even bother? Hey look – a butterfly!
Professor Perrini suggested a rather counter-intuitive thought – thanking the voice that distracts.
“Thank you, your very presence confirms that my work is good, true, and beautiful.” Otherwise, why would it have shown up? Time-wasters and distractions are ultimately settling for a path of least resistance. Mediocrity. Like riding a carousel when I could actually go horseback riding. (Remember that scene from Mary Poppins when the horses in a sidewalk fairytale world hop off the carousel and go for a ride…oh, getting distracted again…)
As a Christian, this makes a lot of sense. Sin keeps me from ultimate happiness.
It made me think of one of the first humans on the planet. Cain was so distracted comparing his lack of favor with God with his brother’s favor with God that it never entered his mind to own up to the reasons God wasn’t pleased with him and change. Instead, he felt unnecessarily threatened and flew into a rage. How often do I look at someone who is successful and feel unnecessarily threatened?
So God has an actual conversation with Cain and tries to reason with him. “If you do well, shall you not be accepted? But if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 MEV)
Cain decides God doesn’t know what He’s talking about and puts his little brother six feet under.
I am not saying getting sidetracked by silly online tests is equal to murder. Or even that distractions are always necessarily sin. I just don’t want to ignore the warnings in the small stuff because small grows into big.
So I gave it a try. I saw distraction coming and felt the battle between the important and the trivial. I’m here to tell you, I think this is a habit I’m going to have to practice frequently. I didn’t exactly get it right, but something important still got done. That was about the time the voice of resistance turned up the volume to nearly deafening. So I said it outloud. Somehow this helps.
“Thank you, your very presence confirms my work is good, true, and beautiful.” Despite a grueling mental battle, the day’s items of importance were accomplished.
Resistance will hunt us down when we have something important to do – a God-given assignment. Why not send distraction packing by thanking it for showing up? (And then showing it the figurative door with a forceful kick.) One small step for you, and one giant leap for good, beautiful, and true!
What good, true, and beautiful work are you going to take one small step towards today? I’d love for you to go do it and – only if it’s not a distraction – tell me in the comments!