by Emily Conrad
I’m sitting here, wasting time. Everyone is quiet, but my mind isn’t having it. Like a ping pong ball, it refuses to hit and land. What do I expect to miss by focusing instead of constantly checking my social media, email, and blog stats?
I am not my best self and I think it’s partly due to not maintaining the slower, reflective practices of reading for pleasure and writing fiction for long periods. Instead, I blog and bounce around from email to website improvements to Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and in so doing, I’ve trained my brain not to settle in and create.
Sitting to scribble this down is a challenge in itself. But now that I’ve been here a minute, it gets easier.
I try breathing like I believe I need the air.
Ironically, this glimpse into an old journal entry ends there, abruptly. Something distracted me after I’d written less than a page.
What was I afraid I’d miss? The first moment when I would receive empirical proof of my significance in the form of likes, shares, and emails. The fact that those can never be enough to satisfy can whip me into a frenzy of checking and rechecking, just waiting for events to turn and for my worth to finally be a fact tallied for all to see.
This is a poisonous way to live.
As last month’s series on God’s love was meant to convey, our need to be seen, known, and loved is met perfectly in God through Jesus Christ. Our worth is there, regardless of how many people like our posts on social media, regardless of how many friends text throughout the day, regardless of how many invitations we get for any particular weekend.
Because Jesus supplies for my most basic needs each moment of each day whether I am conscious of that or not, I’m free to be calm. To breathe like I need the air. To see how God is already meeting my needs, and abundantly so I don’t even have to pause to think about them. To live like I already have all the love I need, because I do.
Life becomes simpler. I can cut the distractions that would have me scrambling to fulfill needs that can only be (and have already been) met in Jesus. I’m free to feed my creative mind with reading and reflection, with prayer and meaningful connections. I can relearn to focus.
And focus does take practice.
If I’ve been mentally hopscotching for too long, it takes determination to write just a half page in my journal. It takes a really good book to distract me from distraction. These are worth the effort. Dedicating my mind to one pursuit for longer and longer periods of time becomes easier each time I push myself to do it.
With practice, I can pray like I need the relationship, relate with friends like I need the connection, read like I need the words, and write like I need the purpose. Because I do. Just like I need the air God breathes into my lungs.
How do you slow down and put the focus on the things that matter?