Distractions are the topic for this week. As I was thinking about this topic, I saw some different causes of distractions and some possible ways to deal with them.
I am the kind of person who likes to plan out my activities for the day. I used to schedule far too much for any one day and then be frustrated because I wasn’t able to complete my “assignment.” I saw anything that interrupted my schedule as a distraction from my “real” work. It has taken years for me to see that often the distractions are the “real” work for the day.
In 1987 I received a letter from a PW that described her own experience with this kind of distraction. Jeannie wrote, “There was a knock on the door, I went to answer a little slowly. It was our day off and my husband was gone with the children. There stood a couple from church and I saw she’d been crying. So, of course, I invited them in and put the coffee pot on. They were having trouble with their teenage daughter. As they talked about how their darling seventeen year old turned into a rebellious, impossible eighteen year old, I now and then looked out the window thinking my husband had to arrive soon, but he didn’t come. Then I realized, ‘God, we’re going to have to do this alone, aren’t we?’
I went back to concentrating on the subject at hand. “I felt so inadequate. After the mom had cried, I had cried, and we’d prayed and had our cup of coffee, they were on their way again. I hadn’t said anything revolutionary and the situation was the same when they left, except they were smiling.
“Then my husband drove in and said, ‘Well, have you had a nice, quiet afternoon?’
This distraction was the “real” work for Jeannie that day.
Another type of distraction lead to me write a poem a few years ago. Sometimes when we are in a very busy season, everything becomes a distraction. The source of the frustration is not the activities and demands, but our own lack of reserves.
He Restores My Soul
by Diane Constantine
In the hustle and bustle of every day,
in the rush and crush that demands too much,
there is a cry from within. . . from my soul.
I’m testy and moody with those I love most.
I’m restless all day and sleepless all night,
tossing in bed. . . my mind will not stop.
What’s wrong with me? What’s happening to me?
I’m not ill or angry or even homesick.
What can it be? What can it be?
I love being wife and mother.
I like being teacher and counselor and friend.
It’s a pleasant job. Why does it make me so tired?
There’s not enough time to do all I must do.
There’s not enough strength to finish my task.
How can I go on? What should I do?
A son’s memory verse…is that the key?
“He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters,
He restores my soul.”
“Lord, there’s no time to lie down,
to dawdle beside still waters!”
A quiet voice inside asks,
“Do you want to be restored?”
“Yes, Lord, You know I do.”
“Learn the lesson of the lilies, they toil not, nor spin.
Don’t worry and don’t fret what can’t be done today.
Tomorrow is another day for you to do it in.
“Come to Me, you who are weary and burdened. . .
learn from Me. I am gentle and humble in heart,
And you will find rest for your soul.
“Stop to smell the roses, to listen to the brook,
to hear your husband’s dreams
and to read a story book.
“Stop and take a long cool bath,
use a little perfume too.
Don’t worry at the extravagance
of a late evening meal-for-two.
“Enjoy the little blessings I give each day to you.
Remember them, cherish them,
be thankful for them too.
“You needn’t be a long time restoring peace within,
But know it’s necessary
or your patience will wear thin.
“Come walk with Me, My child,
in the quiet of your soul,
I’ll give you peace within. . . I’ll restore your soul.”
Personal quiet time and taking time for the little blessings along the way give us the resilience to cope with the distractions that are just a part of our busy lives.
Constant demands on our time and emotions wear away our strongest resolves. Some years ago I talked with a group of ladies who lived on one compound and who worked together. They shared some insights that might help us take a more realistic look at the demands on our time.
First, housework takes so much longer to do in tropical climates and third world locales. If we have lots of family responsibilities or heavy work schedules, we should not feel guilty for hiring help to do housework. Having help with those chores leaves us free to do more important things.
Secondly, we often see our own children as a constant demand on our time. We need to see them as a priority and not as an interruption. As they get older and more independent we have more and more free time to take on other responsibilities.
The ladies in that group shared some specific ways they dealt with the distractions and constant demands in their own lives.
- When I have a big project ahead, I make long range plans and map out what has to be done each week until the event. Then I make daily plans that will help me to complete each week’s tasks on time. I only do what is scheduled for that day and I don’t worry about the other details for that project.
- Scheduling each day helps me to keep from being swamped.
- Setting priorities helps me to not worry about what doesn’t get done. I do the things highest on my list of priorities, then I know I’ve done the most important things.
- I learned to pace myself because no one else will. If I don’t pace myself, I will burn out.
- God gives us the strength for what He calls us to do. I have to recognize the sovereignty of God. If I say no, He has some other way for it to get done if He desires it done.
- I know that I get pressured when I am behind in my work, so I find I must keep up on my work.
- I make it a priority to keep things running smoothly at home. Our schedules are so full we cannot afford to get home and find that there is nothing in the house for dinner.
- When things get hectic, I take an imaginary ride with Jesus in a helicopter. I hover above it for a little while. I rest in the Lord. Then I see things from a different vantage point.
When was the last time you stopped in the middle of a task to listen to a bird sing, watch a butterfly or listen to a child tell a story? When was the last time you had a good old-fashioned belly laugh? Do you have some fresh flowers in a vase where you enjoy them often? How long has it been since you listened to your favorite music or played your instrument- just for fun? Are you fun to be with? We should be the happiest people in the world!
Allow the Lord to restore your soul and you will find a new bounce to your step, a new song in your heart, and a resilience to the interruptions of life.