What in Our Lives Distracts Us from God?
Remove Worldly Distractions to Make More Space for God
We live in a world of clutter. We’re surrounded by things that constantly demand our attention, if only for a fraction of a second. Some of it is our own doing, such as our technology with its 24/7 beeps and incessant call for our attention. Other things are out of our control, such as the constant deluge of marketing messages that surround us in both our physical life and our online world. Beyond these two areas is our environment, the reality we create for ourselves to live in. Combined, these things clutter our lives with constant distractions.
Each time one of these things encroaches our life, we make a split-second decision to give it attention or to ignore it. This happens so frequently that we seldom realize it, but it occurs several times each minute, maybe even each second. Most of the time we deftly deflect these distractions, but when added together over the span of a day, they represent tens of thousands of potential distractions we must deal with.
Though we handle most of these interruptions subconsciously, they combine to weigh us down, to weary us and open us to interference. These needless micro-decisions compound over time to rob us of our self-discipline and weaken our self-control. At best, this renders us ineffective, and at worst it opens us to temptation, because we have little decision-making energy left to fight it.
We must do what we can to seize control of our surroundings and remove the clutter from our reality as much as possible. Here are some steps to accomplish this.
Simplify Our Lives
There’s a saying that we don’t own things, but that things own us. There’s truth in this. Each thing we possess demands something of us. We must take care of it. We must find a place to put it. Does the utility of it exceed the demands that it’s presence places on us? Too often, I fear, the answer is no.
Our possessions take up space, both physically and mentally. We must get rid of what we don’t need, what doesn’t bring us joy, and what doesn’t add value to our lives. We must purge junk, because each item that we have represents another micro distraction. Some people go so far as to say that if we haven’t use something in the past three months, we should get rid of it. I’m not that extreme, but I do experience joy each time I eliminate something that only clutters my life.
I spend much of my working day in front of the computer. With dual screens and always online, technology provides many distractions. I must declutter my computer.
First, I pursue the goal of “inbox zero.” Quite simply, I strive to keep my email inbox empty. I don’t let things pile up, because I know that each pending message serves as a micro distraction all day long. Ten messages means ten distractions each time I glance at my inbox. To work toward achieving this goal, I try to deal with all messages each time I check my inbox. This means I quickly delete, respond, or handle each one. But I don’t continually monitor my email. Instead I periodically check it and handle messages in batches.
Next, I apply this strategy to my web browser. My goal is to move toward one open tab. If I’m not careful, it’s easy for me to have ten or more tabs open. Yet I know, each open tab serves as another micro distraction each time I glance at my browser, which happens frequently throughout the day. Right now, I have seven tabs open, that’s seven distractions each time I look at that screen. How many can I close? Each time I do, I eliminate one micro distraction.
Third, I also look at my physical desk. Each item laying on my desktop represents another chance for distraction. Ideally, I aim for one pile of papers, with the top sheet representing my focus for that moment. This way, when I glance away from my computer there’s only one thing to see. It reminds me what I should be doing.
Celebrate That Less Is More
As we remove things that don’t matter, that don’t provide value, and that don’t fill us with joy, we can better focus on what remains. We can celebrate what stays, what matters most. Though the idea that “less is more” is an anathema to our materialistic society, it’s a mindset we must diligently strive to reclaim.
Simplify Processes and Procedures
We should look at each thing we do in our life, both at work and at home. Over time, tasks balloon to encompass more steps and take more time than they need to. We must become an efficiency expert and look to streamline everything we do. As we pursue this, it gives us more space and more time.
The Simplest Solution Is Usually the Best
As we consider that less is more and look to simplify what we do, we come to the inescapable conclusion that the simplest solution is usually the best one. Don’t make anything more complicated than it needs to be. Streamline everything, and cut out all that doesn’t matter.
Embrace the Results
Why should we do this? Why should we strive to take more control of our lives by removing the distractions that reduce our ineffectiveness and rob us of peace? As we do this, it increases our effectiveness. But more importantly, it also takes a huge swipe at the multitude of things that distract us from realizing God’s presence and threaten to push him to the side of our life or even outside it. God is present in every moment, but too often are endless distractions keep us from being aware of him. We must remove things that distract us from God, so we can place him in the center of our reality. Click To Tweet
We must remove things that distract us from God, so we can place him in the center of our reality where he belongs. Though getting rid of some of our stuff may seem like a trivial exercise, it’s the first step to reducing distractions and embracing our Creator and Savior as the focus of our lives.
As God says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV). Removing distractions from our lives will help us do this.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.