Distracted and Consumed

I am chief among sinners. 

I thought about Paul’s words as my pastor spoke the words “Distracted and Consumed” yesterday. I felt the arrows of conviction hit straight and true as he continued on with his sermon, knowing those three words had struck at the heart of a problem. One that I know many wrestle with, even as a society and culture we are suffering from the very disease of distraction and consummation.

I get the irony of writing about this on a platform (and sharing it on other platforms) because it’s the very thing which is distracting and consuming this heart, this mind, and this time. I like to say “well it’s to keep up with this or to share my writing.” Unfortunately though it’s to the detriment of my heart and my focus.

Maybe it’s not so much social media that distracts you, maybe you don’t get consumed by the words, the actions, and the thoughts of others in such a divisive culture we are living in. Maybe the distraction is binging on the newest release from Netflix or your kids’ ballgames (this one I saw first hand last weekend y’all). It is whatever is consuming your time and distracting you from the very thing which God desires of you.

What is consuming your heart that it’s not allowing Him in? What is distracting you to the point you cannot hear Him? I am the first to admit that I willingly would choose those over time with Him, time digging in to His Word, time spent in silence with Him, waiting on Him. I would rather be consumed with distractions than allow Him space in my life…that’s what I am telling Him when I “scroll for just a few minutes.” Or when I say “just one more episode” or let someone else take up residency in my heart.

When I am distracted and consumed, I am more prone to worry, anxiety, doubt, fear, and control. I find that peace and stillness are commodities in short supply. The quiet filling of connection is negated with an empty longing to be known when we are consumed by anything other than the God who desires to know us more.

Maybe it’s time to stop the fighting for our attention and our hearts by simply giving them solely to Him. Not a screen, not the success or failure of our child’s pee wee league team, and not some fictional characters we enjoy.

 

My Wagging Foot

I am really bad at sitting still. I used to get in trouble at school and when I played basketball because of it. These days I would probably be labeled as ADD, but in fact, that’s not the case. I am inherently a doer, active at all times. I laughed a few years ago because I looked down as my foot was bouncing back and forth, just as my oldest nephews was doing while we watched a movie.

DSCN2342Needless to say, my active self (mind, heart, spirit and body) often finds itself in tension with the words “Be still.” I wrestle with those words, when said by people around me as a child and when they are whispered into my heart by God now. Every few months though I stumble back into those words, when they come at me as an accusation not as a balm for a worried heart, a fretting mind. It will surprise me often because I won’t feel as though I am actively in the way of God working, but when He whispers (and sometimes shouts, to be honest) stillness I see where I have gotten busy instead of waiting and trusting on Him.

I realized this earlier this week when I wrote out the words below. It was a confession and a prayer because I needed to get honest before God about what I had been doing, justifying actions of honesty and transparency when I know full well it was my way of doing rather than being.

I want to DO rather than invite to BE WITH.

Truth of the matter is that I find being still being framed as inactivity. It frustrates me and seems rather passive. That’s where my understanding has been wildly misleading and skewed to a fleshly mindset. Being still is not inactivity with God, it’s active dependence on a living Lord. It is active obedience to be still…it’s honoring Him to turn the worry over, the fretting of a mind and say, “I will be here, in You Lord.” It’s an act of trust and worship, each and every moment I choose to not do but be.

Active dependence is being still. It is knowing and trusting, it is being with Him. It’s a fight against my own nature and one that I am finding I am having a hard time learning and applying to life, even as I walk into my 15th year as a believer. It’s seeing that bouncing foot and being mindful of stopping it from leading me where He isn’t. It’s trusting when it moves, it will be following the God of stillness.

In the Stillness.

I can identify with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman just a bit. Not for the whole prostitute made good, but for that moment when Richard Gere sees her waiting in the restaurant for her and he says, “you look stunning when you aren’t fidgeting.” I am a fidgeter in life. In a lot of aspects…

Lately I have seen my fidgeting ways become more prevalent as I sit in a place of unknown and newness. With my personal life now at a place of singleness again, it has been mildly difficult to understand this season, to learn what is being written in my life. I want to mess and squirm to get out of the uncomfortable season that this seems to be.

I want to rush through the process of learning what God is teaching me in this season professionally as well. I am learning that I need to stop messing eventhough my Activator strength is in overdrive at the moment. (that’s not a superpower, but from a StrengthsFinder assessment) I fidget, and get antsy when the only action step is wait.

I alluded to this yesterday on Instagram when I shared that I kept getting the same verse after my workouts recently. Our fitness and recreation department puts “spiritual vitamins” for people to take with them as they leave a class or the facility. After much haggling over the last few days of waiting I got this verse…again:

Drawing by Sara Stacy. Photo property of Sara Stacy. Do not copy or use without permission.
Drawing by Sara Stacy. Photo property of Sara Stacy. Do not copy or use without permission.

I laughed…because that’s what Sara(h)s do. But I will be really honest with you all, being still is not a strength of mine. Activating, doing…that’s me. I’ll even color-code it, index it, and file it for you properly. But waiting? Where do I put that? How do I schedule that?
Being still though is crucial to listening. To actually hearing from God. Being still means my hands remain off of things. It means letting go of the grip I have had on some issues and finally letting God do His work in them, but using me in the process, instead of me just messing it up.

Being still looks vastly different for me than it may for you. But I do know that the theme of stillness will keep coming up in my life until I get still. Until I learn what waiting (longsuffering/patience) looks like in my life. Until I see how I reflect that image of Christ’s waiting the way God designed me to bear it. Until I realize that I need only be still, because He fights for me, not against me. That I should stop fidgeting, because the beauty is in the stillness.

The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still. -Exodus 14:14