My day began with a list of “things to do.” I started with my emails. While responding to an invite I am reminded of an upcoming trip I have yet to book the hotel for. I jump to Google to check on hotel room availability when the side screen displays an ad for a sale on a sweater I am interested in. My sister sends me a text. I leave the hotel website, and go to check out the sweater. As I am finishing up my purchase I remember I haven’t sent the email response that I started with. My phone rings. I am distracted.
This scenario is a common occurrence. The internet now allows us to manage life from a screen. We can instantly communicate with friends and family, shop for everything from groceries to travel, read novels and newspapers, and so much more. The conveniences of modern technology should make us more efficient. However, because of our multitudinous choices, it is becoming increasingly difficult to decipher what is important and what is just a distraction.
Distraction has become one of Satan’s greatest tools. Some of you may remember the internet story that was widely circulated entitled “Being Under Satan’s Yoke.” Its purpose was to show how Satan keeps us busy – B.U.S.Y. for Being Under Satan’s Yoke – to distract us from doing what is most important. The busier we become the less time we spend focusing on what will draw us closer to God. In thinking about what helps me focus I’ve come up with five ways to avoid being deceived by distraction.
Hours of skimming through social media, endless surfing on the internet, and the unconscious twitch of checking your inbox can all become a trap of distraction. If media limits are good for our kids, might they also be of value for ourselves? The American Academy of Pediatrics released a study which showed that our kids are spending an average of seven hours of screen time a day. What message are we sending the next generation? Take a day off from Facebook, let the internet just be, and give your phone a bedtime. Find the right time of day and the right place – then turn them off and lock them up.
Our priorities will differ from person to person. It is easy to view the life a friend as seen on her Pinterest boards or Facebook timeline and feel that her lifestyle works better than mine. However, allowing myself to be wishy-washy in my resolve to focus on my own priorities ends up with me doing a whole lot of nothing. Identify what defines you, what makes you tick, and what is truly important – then stick to it. Don’t allow the world to deter you from your vision and focus.
Slow down, say no, and find your rhythm. Like the racehorse that is driven by the pace-setting rabbit, we have all felt the need to keep up. We push ourselves to do more and accept every request only to miss the joy of the journey as we spiral out of control. Being mindful allows us to be present in the here and now.
When we allow ourselves to become idle it is a natural tendency to become fixated on the non-essentials. Taking a 30-minute walk, going to the gym, or running around the playground with the kids helps give us a healthy perspective. Physical health clears our mind, gets the right kind of endorphins flowing, and helps our overall well-being.
The scripture reference to “be still and know that I am God” reminds me of the most important thing that I can be distracted from. My relationship with God is essential in my life. It is what brings me peace, direction, and power to accomplish great things. When I neglect that relationship because of the frivolous distractions around me my spirit suffers and I fail to become what He intends for me to be.
I feel closest to God when I immerse myself in His word. It has been said that “I speak to God when I pray, He speaks to me when I read the scriptures.” Russell M. Nelson cautioned, “We should never make reading the [scriptures] seem like an onerous duty, like the gulping of nasty medicine to be swallowed quickly and then checked off with finality.” As I have pored through the pages of my scriptures I have come to know my Savior and his infinite love for me. What power and purpose that has given me in my life.
Beware of Distraction
The Book of Mormon specifically warns of distractions in a dream that the prophet Lehi had. He saw God waiting at the tree of life for him and his family. Along the path, there were distractions to Lehi and his family. Distractions trying to keep them from reaching and partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. Jeffrey R. Holland said, “The principal point of the story is the successful travelers resist all distractions, including the lure of forbidden paths and jeering taunts from the vain and proud who have taken those paths.” Satan wants nothing more than for us to become so distracted we neglect the important things we are here to do in this life. I must be determined in removing those distractions. I can’t afford to let their noise drown out the Lord’s voice.