10 Habits to Break (and NOT live by) :: distraction.

focus I enter the day on fire already at dawn.

Each one lined up in demanding succession, already laying claim to time not yet, minutes too young to be accounted for, but they are before I even have the chance to live.  We live in some sort of deficit common to most and known by all.  Busy, we all are; some more than others by choice and some sinking in a devouring schedule.

It appears that life demands more at different times.  My schedule is busier now than I can ever remember, and balancing all of it seems more than daunting of a task most days.  Like plates spinning threatening crash and disruption of symphony - items on my calendar, tasks stacked in my to do list, appointments butting up to each other, project deadlines, responsibilities, opportunities, ideas - my days blur and bleed into each other, a monochromatic smear undistinguishable from the one before.

Just the other day, after juggling work meetings, finishing a writing project and coaching my little first grader through addition problems, I asked her if it was really Thursday.  She, matter-of-factly replied, “I don’t know.”  So we were both lost and disappeared back into our work because bath time, dinner and family talk awaited us, impatiently.

You get it just like I get it: we’re all busy, probably more than we should be.

My habit in busyness, distraction.

At the root of busy, I find deeper tension between the struggle for validation and meaning and reverently bowing low to idols of effort and independence.  Rather than reveling in sunset, I’m transfixed by the moving parts on my wristwatch, aware that the day is moving and afraid of being left behind.  So I scurry through the day ping ponging through dinging calendar alerts, scribbled notes and nearly forgotten ideas, all while new ‘things’ pull for attention.  I allow the distraction which devours focus and forwardness.  Lost in diverging moments, distraction splinters my effortful progression and the plates spin unattended, stretching the day endlessly into the next.

I’ve learned much more about myself the busier life has become.  For starters, I’m not as patient as I considered myself to be.  In fact, patience is a forgotten virtue as I speed through the day making frequent unplanned detours - distractions.

Less busy makes little sense, actually, like commanding the day to stop so that you can catch up.  If all I do is try to not be so busy, I get busier trying not to be busy - my life diminishes to schedule reduction rather than meaningful progress into accomplishing dreams and all that truly matters.  My family doesn’t need a less busier me; they need an intentionally present me.

To be clear, busyness isn’t the beast, distraction is.  And prone to distraction typically points to ungrace ruling my heart, a term Phillip Yancey describes as a path chosen lacking grace.  Reduce my distracted heart down beyond the frantic and rotten core issues are uncovered that are far more concerning than the mere pace in which I move through each day.

How I move troubles me.

The chasing after words to be written, the rushing through meetings, the whining about time’s apparent poverty and the weariness of it all give thorough evidence of a fragmented focus continually falling victim to a heart lacking grace and grasping to earn its way in life.  When, in our minds and hearts, we have to earn all that is good, enjoyable and meaningful in life, our focus fragments, dividing day to parts of life rather than simply the pursuit of life good, despite circumstance, and acceptance of grace.

The habit of distraction must be unsubscribed to, let go of, in the acceptance of grace - the reality of God distributing good to those good, and bad.  In light of grace’s freeing reality, my focus can steady on what matters and must be attended to while distractions fit to satisfy a broken, ungraceful heart can be ignored and discounted as muted enemies.