Concentration and Focus: Close to Extinction?
- February 21, 2018
- Lori Travers
Bounding up the stairs into my bedroom at breakneck speed with adrenaline flowing, I find myself standing in my bedroom scratching my head wondering what in the world was I supposed to do here? I’ve got half cooked food down in the kitchen, a half-read morning devotional on the coffee table, laundry in the washer and laundry in the dryer and laundry on the bed and laundry in the hamper and laundry on the floor (and all over my computer chair). I have half my makeup on from the night before and my hair is less than half fixed. And as I type these words at my desktop, I have a work laptop open and ready for press release requests, my cell phone next to me as it faithfully pings alerts, and the radio blaring in the background (how could I possibly miss the next big news item?!)
Oh but wait! There’s more!
Did I forget to check birthdays on Facebook (as well as replying to a nasty comment on my wall), email ministry requests back, return texts from friends who are struggling, and remember to pay my bills on time, checking once again my checking account balance??
Did Pinterest entice me to view projects that require skills I don’t possess, leaving me feeling crafting-challenged? Did I spend a few too many precious minutes viewing potential hair styles, that just plain do not work with my hair….*excuse me…my cell pinged* (So, what was I saying??)
Even when I go to exercise at a local gym there are numerous TV’s all blaring at the same time, along with a constant barrage of music videos. And yet the vast majority of participants have earbuds in!
We laugh about our ADD symptoms, our OCD, and our “brain fog”, having difficulty engaging in deep conversation. We bought into the lie that “multitasking” is actually a healthy way of life, and that eat-on-the-go child-rearing is going to produce a new generation of vigorous overachievers. But regrettably we’ve become a mile wide and an inch deep in our relationships.
We were meant to live deeply relationally, not deeply distracted.
I’ll be the first to admit that I believe I have a slight addiction to social media. I catch myself checking my phone numerous times throughout the day like a drug addict needing a fix. This might be considered acceptable and normal in our culture, but I don’t believe for a minute that it’s God’s intention for a robust Christian walk.
Hebrews 12 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” We cannot possibly fix our eyes on Jesus (or on anything or anyone of value, for that matter) if our minds are full of toddler-type tasks running around our minds, undisciplined. These things that hinder must be thrown aside for the greater good of taking the stance of Mary, and choosing the “better thing that won’t be taken from her”.
“…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” is what Romans 8:6 reminds us. Life and peace?! So many of us have the deadness of depression due to mental overload OR chaotic minds and lives that lead to anxiety.
What we’ve become accustomed to is miles apart from the Jesus way. Awareness is the beginning of change and I believe as we experience the fallout of our unhealthy multitasking, we can lean slightly, encouraging a paradoxical shift. We are called to “be still” in order to listen to the voice of God. Jesus desires to guide our steps and give us depth of character, but we cannot hear His voice if our devices block His “still small voice”.
I’ll submit a possible remedy for this condition. Can we launch our day with the sweet sound of God’s love and leave the phone on hold for a few precious moments with the One who knows us and can order our day? HE is our greatest need and truly the greatest desire of our wanting souls. No email, text, tweet, message, phone call, or written letter can do what one word from THE Word is able to. No amount of task completion is able to satisfy more than the reality of THE finished work accomplished for you and me at the cross of Christ.
Can we bring back the almost extinct quality of focus? Focus on a hurting human. Focus on completing one task at a time. Focus on that soul-healing book you’ve been too distracted to finish.
And focus on Jesus, the One who kept His eyes on you, completing the task He came to accomplish, not allowing distractions as He bellowed out on the cross, “It is finished!”
May all that’s vying for your attention humbly bow to this greater reality.