It's easy to sit back and think you are doing great because the kids are fed and the laundry is folded. You then realize that you are so busy with the activities of the day that you have little time to focus on that thing in your heart that you have been meaning to get to.... You know prayer? Pondering and meditation? Praising God? You find yourself crawling into bed, another day gone and pledging to make the next day better. But, day after day not much changes.
We are often distracted from the things we are meant to be doing. Distractions are sometimes large and obvious, like binge watching your favorite shows on Netflix. (Oh, you do that?) These diversions are easy to spot, easy to evaluate and easy to turn off, or set a limit and maintain. But, distractions are often disguised and seem so small that they don't seem to be a problem, like Facebook. Facebook connects us to our families and friends from far away. It supplies news, information, recipes, and even food for thought. However, it's also easy to lose hours scrolling though the endless sea of pictures, ideas and advertisements. There have been evenings I have sat down after putting the kids to bed to check Facebook for a moment and then suddenly two hours have passed. (It's ok I can quit whenever I want to....) Still yet, there are other distractions. These seem like the best use of our time like chatting with friends or searching for better ways to clean or manage our home.
What is a Distraction?
A distraction is defined as "a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else." In this case, a distraction is anything that interferes with you giving full attention to the Lord's will for you right now. Our kids can be fed, clothed, clean, and happy and still be neglected because we spent a couple hours researching the best potty training methods. Sure, learning how to be a better parent or be more efficient with our tasks can be helpful, but when we neglect to do the Lord's will, it's a busywork. It's a distraction! Satan loves to give us busywork. These are the kind of things that seem helpful or like they are important but in the end, they yield no fruit and cost way more time and resources than the good they did. Yes, Satan will use good things, and true things to keep us from Christ.
A short while ago I had a moment in the day. The Spirit said to use the time to pray and read the scriptures. As I opened up my scriptures, my husband contacted me asking me to look into something online. Since it wasn't an urgent request, I should have left it for a few hours and focused on what the Spirit had told me to do. Instead, I got distracted and spent the entire time doing something that could have been done later. Helping my husband was a good thing to do. It was something that needed to be done. However, doing it at that time ended up being a distraction from what I should have been doing.
There have been many other times where I have been chatting to a friend when I should have been focused on my children or studying the scriptures or sending someone who needs help a message. Although there is nothing wrong with talking to friends, it can be a distraction from what the Lord desires us to do in that moment. We end up neglecting what we are meant to be doing.
Why Does Satan Want You Distracted?
We tend to think that Satan is going to try to get us to focus on sinning: yelling at your kids, gossiping, telling a small white lie, and so on. Yes, Satan will try to entice us to sin, but more often than that he is far more subtle. In the end, his objective is to create distance between us and God. One very effective way of doing that is creating distractions which if we give into, means we aren't doing the Father's will. They are difficult to recognize though because they are often good things we're engaged in.
Satan can even distract us by encouraging us to focus on studying and pondering doctrines that don't matter. They end up replacing what we ought to be doing: Seeking to know how to repent and becoming more like Jesus. In fact, almost anything that takes us away from seeking the Lord's will and repenting is a distraction.
How to Change Focus
So how do you know if you are distracted? Well, most of us are to some extent. Some more than others. We first must admit we are distracted. "Hi, I'm addicted to distractions." It's easy to assume that eliminating the problem fixes it, however that just keeps it out of sight and out of mind. The problem isn't that there is a distraction, it's that we can be distracted. There will always be things in our lives that can potentially distract us: friends to chat to; Facebook and other social media; our favorite television shows; and so on.
The way to overcome distractions is to improve our connection with the Lord and get to the point where we are asking what His will is for us throughout the day. Paul similarly encouraged the Corinthians to "attend upon the Lord without distraction" (1 Corinthians 7:35). Understanding the Spirit is key in overcoming distractions. Once you know what God's will is, don't be enticed to do something else. Focus on accomplishing what the Lord has instructed you to do.
Jesus tells the parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-15). He sows seeds in various places, but one group of seeds fell among thorns. When the plant grew, it was choked by the thorns. Jesus said about these seeds:
And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. (Luke 8:14)These seeds are symbolic of the word of God (Luke 8:11). As we become consumed with the cares of the world ("cares"), material possessions ("riches"), and entertainment ("pleasures"), it is like the word of God being choked because we cannot do the Lord's will each moment of the day while still seeking our own will.
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.We must desire the Lord's will more than our appetites for entertainment, or our desire to do what we believe to be productive. We must understand and submit fully to his will. This means we must be willing to give up anything that may be filling our time or taking our attention away from what really matters: repenting and doing God's will.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3)
Through constant prayer, regular fasting, and worshiping God, we can open a connection with heaven that is so powerful it will better enable us to overcome the ability to be coerced away from God's work. We can know how the Lord would have us use our time and attention, and gain heaven's help in resisting the proclivity to be pulled from it. Distractions can be addictive and habit forming. Just like most bad habits we can break it by learning temperance and submitting to the Lord's will.