When I first looked at that word, I knew instantly what I would write about. In my head, I began a blog describing all I do in a typical day as a mom, wife, friend, and woman. As most other ladies know, the tasks within our days are nonstop. We often can’t complete a single one of them without being distracted into halfway doing another - leaving us scratching our heads at bedtime, staring at unanswered calls, a messy house, kids starving for your attention, a neglected husband, and thinking, “What the heck did I do all day?” To further solidify my argument, I looked up the word “distract" on Merriam-Webster.com and read, "to draw or direct (as one’s attention) to a different object or in different directions at the same time." Yup! There it is! The bane of my existence. The problem with my lack of accomplishment throughout the day is the complete presence of DISTRACTIONS. Tie it in, with a nice little bow, the need to yield to God in discipline and focus while being a good steward of His and my time, and BAM! I had a solid blog post.
Only it didn’t sit right. So often in my life I think of how confused I have been about myself and my happiness based on what I thought was “distracting me.” In the above-mentioned original draft of this blog, I was claiming that the distractions were keeping me from my most productive self and, overall, a happy satisfied life. My feelings about who I was in regards to God’s purpose for me, and my success at executing that, were completely wrapped up in the amount of things I could do within one day. Anything that directed my attention astray was bad and needed to be eliminated. In the midst of everyday life, it was only a “good day” if I avoided distraction from my to-do list and stayed on task.
After sitting with this idea, I realized God didn’t wrap my purpose up in a to-do list and He certainly wasn’t holding out my value based on my productivity. It came to me that I had the roles completely reversed. Connection with my family and friends, rest for my soul and body, and all these so-called interruptions weren’t “distractions.” They were the purpose! And my to-do list was actually interfering with what was very important to me. I was reading a book called Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist and this line jumped out at me. “I was not well, but I was very very productive. And it didn’t occur to me to stop.” Ain’t that the truth? How often do you find yourself exhausted or grumpy or short with your family while trying to ignore the distractions? When discussing her success and busyness even further, she said, “I gave myself away indiscriminately. Be careful how much of yourself you give away, even with the best of intentions. There are things you cannot get back, things that God has not asked you to sacrifice.” I too, give so much of myself away to all that I need to get done, that I sacrifice things, good things, that God certainly has not asked me to ignore. Such as playtime with my kids because dinner has to get cooked, messes on the dining room table because my 9-year-old wants to add glitter to her project, a spontaneous date with my husband, listening for far too long to a friend having a hard day. I have labeled these things as interruptions from my goals for the day. My goals of earning my “self” through productivity, success, and a check list.
I’m not saying housework is a horrible distraction that shouldn’t get done. (I mean, that doesn’t sound like too bad of an idea though. Amiright?!) However, in the moment of deciding what gets your attention, it may be helpful to think of the long-lasting impact this task will have on your connection with God, with your people, and with yourself. I don’t know about you, but sometimes vacuumed floors give me a buttload of inner peace! SO GO FOR IT! And with that being said, saying 'no' to the opportunity to write for a new outlet, or volunteer at church (although great things!), might not give me enough time to rest or enjoy my family. We all know that each day holds room for many tasks for each of us to get completed. The thought we need to really ask ourselves is: Which of these distracts me from what is most important to me? And which of these serves my purpose?
I’ll leave you with my new promise that is another excerpt from Shauna in the book. “This body and soul will become again what God intended them to be: living sacrifices, offered only to him. I will spend my life on meaning, on connection, on love, on freedom. I will not waste one more day trapped in comparison, competition, proving, and earning. That’s the currency of a culture that has nothing to offer me.”
This is Candace. She hates long walks on the beach and would prefer a short drive to get a doughnut. Her creative spirit leaves her husband constantly guessing which room she'll decorate next and her kids requesting elaborate birthday parties. She'll tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it. But don't worry, she'll make you laugh to soften the blow. Her heart longs to share the realness of her life and provide someone else a "me too" in a moment of isolation. Words are her thing; she writes to heal. God grasped a hold of Candace as a teenage mama, and she's been desperate for His love and sensitive to His voice everyday since.