Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Enemy of Distraction

The calendar is not my friend.  I avoid them at all costs.  You see, my personality type serves as one in which time restraints bring immense amounts of anxiety.  They serve as ticking time bombs.

I am back in college, which has proven to be one of the greatest experiences in my life as I have discovered I am not as dumb as I once believed and according to my professors, I can write.  However, with that said, the moment classes begin, panic sets in for this disorderly girl. The second courses open up online, all the content and assignments become immediately available to view ( a concept I seriously dislike) which leaves me instantly overwhelmed as I look at my calendar and the list of work ahead of me. 

Currently I just finished my first Psychology class and last counseling class both which had research project/paper assignments.  Knowing about the papers since the end of June, I immediately began mentally preparing for them by taking a glimpse at my already crazy calendar.  With all the additional assignments required for the classes, along with the abundance of other responsibilities in my life, I felt in that moment, accomplishing the task of completing those enormous assignments was impossible.

The problem begins with my writing. I put the whole kit and caboodle into my writing assignments and at times they consume me.  I am one who best communicates through writing and when writing a paper, it is imperative that my words convey exactly what I am trying to express.  I can have a 400 word assignment typed out in less than thirty minutes, however, the editing process, takes forever due to my pickiness.  Apparently this attribute serves me well as I have yet to receive anything other than an A on my papers, however the consumption of perfection eventually becomes my enemy.  My writing becomes my distraction.

Day in and day out, my mind remains consumed by those assignments. Each assignment sits patiently waiting for my triumphant return to the keyboard for polishing and completion.  Whether preparing dinner or folding laundry or watching a movie with the family, the process of completing my latest assignment floods my mind.  Even during our weekly small group, I must fight intensely to focus on what’s happening around me, though truthfully, my mind winds up back to the computer screen. 

I do not obsess over my work, but instead truly aim to offer my best.  When I write, no matter what the task, I pour my heart and soul into the words I write.  Each blog post, writing assignment or words on a card serve as a reflection of my heart and I desire each to be the best reflection possible.  However again, it becomes my enemy.

Recently, I shared the anxiety of my upcoming assignments with my small group.  The anxiety from not just finishing the assignments, but finishing the class strong as up to this point, I have taken six classes and received six As.  The thought of anything less feels unacceptable and so I create an anxiety filled world.  “God please help me.”  I truly prayed that simple prayer before I went to bed the night I shared my anxiety with my group and this is what happened.

The next morning, I sat in front of my computer and when I pulled up my school email, low and behold, a message to the entire class popped up from the professor which went something like this,

These are grades and not what defines you as a person. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t allow grades to stop you from doing your very best on each individual assignment.  All it is, is a number.  What’s important is what you are learning!

Now understand, I attend a Christian university.  From day one, the same message has been repeated by every professor.  God first, family second and school last.  Be content with a C if it means priorities stay intact.  That’s enormous as those life priorities serve as the way in which I attempt to live life and work best for me.  However, I still aspire to succeed and that following morning when I read the message from my professor, I knew God was attempting to grab my attention.  As I processed the professor's message, I realized that the enemy had been using my schoolwork as a distraction from those moments which truly mattered.  My eyes could not see past the subsequent “A” I wanted to earn.  The world and life, continued to pass me by and I was missing it because the enemy found my weakness. 

How often do we miss precious moments in which God grants us to share His love or hope with someone due to our own "distractedness?"  I cannot help but consider my own missed opportunities.  It becomes so simple to allow the world to consume our thoughts and leave us overwhelmed by mundane things. However, I am learning that this is not my home.  This place is a temporary stop along a remarkable journey and right now, while I am here, I need to be mindful of those God given moments of greatness. To be mindful that opportunities constantly surround me to accomplish something enormous for His Kingdom.  I pass people on a daily basis who walk the road of this life without Jesus beside them.  How can I care about an A instead of those without Jesus? 


Distractions: those things which prevent someone from giving full attention to something else.   They come in different shapes and sizes and we all have them.  The question becomes “How will we resolve our distractions?”

So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.

Hebrews 12:1