5 Ways to Disarm Distractions

What’s your favorite distraction? We all have them. Those things that creep into our life and start stealing minutes. Then hours. Then days. Then weeks. Then months. Sometimes even years. You know. Those things that you substitute for the good things that are missing or messy in your life.

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How do you define distraction? When I look at the word, I see dis and traction. It’s hard to move forward when I don’t have the necessary power to pull me. I don’t want to get stuck in the mire of life’s messes and the enemy’s plans. How about you?

I’ll confess my distractions to you if you promise to confess your distractions to yourself.

Here are my top 5 favorite distractions to which I give way too much power and presence:
1.    TV I’ll admit it. There are very few programs I really want to watch. I don’t even have cable or satellite TV. Sometimes I just turn on the TV so there are voices in my home. A strange kind of company.
2.    Scrabble on my smartphone — I can play this multiple times a day (but not while I’m in my office or at work, by the way!), and I don’t have to think about anything else when I’m playing. All I have to do is pick up my phone and tune out of everything else I don’t want to deal with.
3.    Self-pity — I find my mind wandering to all the negative stuff in my life, all the mistakes, all the weird situations I’ve been in (and there are many, believe me). This happens a lot when I’m driving or trying to fall asleep. And what happens next? I can talk myself into criticizing or giving up on the person who is closest to me: Me!
4.    Life challenges — Analyzing and overanalyzing pull me down into the spiral of defeat so many times. Even at my age, I constantly have my challenge du jour, the one that threatens to suck the life out of me before I even realize it. Add to that the unresolved challenges from the past, the challenges that may come in the future, and the challenges that pop up out of nowhere, and there’s a recipe for mental disaster.
5.    Being alone — Isolation short-circuits community. The more time I spend alone, the easier it is to choose to spend time alone. And the more difficult it is to work for the Lord and make a difference for him in our world. In today’s world, there are many ways to make isolation more comfortable, to fill time with mindless and actually boring activities. See the top of this list.

Why are we afraid of quiet and silence? What is it that pushes us to fill every waking moment with some kind of activity or noise? 

My nephew Mark and my great-nephew Archer spending time together inspires me to be a better steward of the time God gives me.

My nephew Mark and my great-nephew Archer spending time together inspires me to be a better steward of the time God gives me.

The enemy loves nothing more than to distract us from God’s presence and God’s truth. Think about how our world is cooperating with his goals. When was the last time you just sat quietly, talked with God, and listened to God? Sometimes I wonder if this is even possible anymore! 

Let’s be honest. The hours we spend trying to defuse our perceived pain of reality would be so much better invested in growing into the people God wants and needs us to be. We’re cheating ourselves and others when we turn to our distractions instead of turning to the Lord.

Here are 5 ways I’ve found to help me disarm the distractions that creep into my life.
1.    Put it down. All of our handheld devices keep more than our hands busy. They tempt our minds into numbness and not thinking. When your hands are free, your mind will be freer, too.
2.    Turn it off. For all electronics, use the silent and off modes often. You’ll be surprised by what comes alive around you.

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3.    Plug into the positive. So much of what we can access in our smart-driven world brings much more negative than positive into our lives. Why let negative control you? Positive benefits your mind, body, and spirit now and for many years to come.
4.    Encounter God’s Word. Often, to help make sure I engage with God’s Word, I keep a pen and paper right there when I study and pray. When I hear something from God, I want to trust more than my memory to save it for me. The quieter and less distracted I am, the clearer I hear God speaking to me. The more quiet I have around me, the more I hear from God. Join me in speaking the Word aloud — to yourself and others — at least once each day.
5.    Pray. Setting aside intentional time to talk with God is a command with many reasons behind it. Prayer isn’t just a quick rote message thrown at God. It’s real communication. For you, those you love, our world, our leaders, and so much more. Instead of making excuses, prioritize prayer in your life. Talk with and listen to God every day.

Getting together with my high school friends is always a special treat. Give yourself the gift of spending quality time with those you love. (Photo by Ben Parkhill)

Getting together with my high school friends is always a special treat. Give yourself the gift of spending quality time with those you love. (Photo by Ben Parkhill)

Do we want to live the way God intends for us to live? Many things are vying for our attention. Choose wisely. Like Mary did (Luke 10:38-42).

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Pray this simple prayer with me at least once each day in 2018: Lord, help me keep you more important than any distraction the world offers me. Help me grow in the number of hours I spend distraction-free and plugged into you and your Word.

Photo by  Jordan T. Hansen

Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2018 by Laura Warfel