This is a brutal admission. While everyone has been looking into how to be more productive and learn a new hobby, new information about myself has emerged during this crisis.
I am addicted to distraction.
In November, I welcomed our second child. After a long leave, I returned to work ready to ramp up my business. My calendar was full - Tuesday nights were Bible study led at my house, Thursday nights were RCIA class at church. My weekdays were non-stop again, getting up early to feed the baby, start my morning, and then I was out the door and in the office to then be swept up with the markets and ever-changing world of finance.
I was back in my comfortable routine.
And then, like everyone, my precious routine was chucked into a frenzied fan of quarantined life. I was now balancing a four-year-old, a 4-month-old, and my business.
My immediate reaction was not to create a new routine or figure out the balance quickly. Instead, I was refreshing my work email, my social media, and my personal inbox every 10 minutes. I was watching Netflix “trash shows” at home. Anything... anything that would get my mind off of this new reality became my new unintentional routine.
And I became exhausted. It’s the life of an addict.
Behind this addiction to distraction is a thinly veiled need for control. And when my control is disrupted, internal chaos ensues. This chaos has permeated my character.
I have been grasping at every distraction that has come my way to try to hang on while this crazy carousel is spinning faster and faster out of control.
But God is not a God of chaos.
He is a God of order. He is a God of intention.
Until recently, I had not taken this time to put down the device and crawl into the throne room of the Most High alone. I’d sent up in-the-moment frantic pleas with God, but I had not been still enough to be present with Him.
Even if God Himself spoke to me, I’m not sure I would have heard Him. Actually, I know I wouldn’t have. I was too caught up in my addiction to distraction.
Our 4-month-old, Samuel, is our rainbow baby. Do you know the story of Samuel in the Bible?
He is born to a woman named Hannah, who prayed for a child for years. She was believed to be barren. And then, she bears a child - Samuel - and returns him to serve in the temple when he is still very young, as a dedication to God.
While sleeping one night in the temple, Samuel is awoken by a voice. Twice this happens, and he wakes the elder priest, his mentor, and asks, “Did you call me?”
And then they realize it was the voice of the Lord waking Samuel.
The third time the Lord calls Samuel, and he replies:
“Here I am, Lord. Speak, your servant is listening.”
The Lord then spoke one of most critical messages for Israel to Samuel. But Samuel, this child... he had to be still. He had to be told that the Lord was calling him. He literally needed a wake-up call.
And here is ours: I am one of a billion people addicted to distraction. What are we doing, friends? What are we missing out on? What message has the Lord stopped time for to tell us?
We are choosing a perfect picture over a simple memory. Choosing an image, our image, before God. We are breaking the very first commandment. We are little gods. That’s what an addict does. She puts the addiction before God, and before His gifts.
And the Enemy loves it. After all, that was his problem too.
I recently read something that distinguished the ways God is present in the lives of men versus women. Men are always leaving to go find God - Moses, Abraham - both to the mountain. But God meets women in the daily routine of mundane household tasks or chores. Jesus met the woman at the well while she was fetching water for her household. Jesus met Mary Magdalene when she went to dress His body in the tomb.
The last few nights, I’ve let myself get there. I put down my phone and nurse my half-asleep baby boy. And I weep. Silently. By myself. I am with God in that moment. I am rocking a praise to Him back and forth for the precious gift of life He gave me. I’ve stopped long enough now to utter the words, “Thank You for making me a mommy.”
I’m slowly learning the meaning of choosing to be in the moment, and recognizing the presence of Jesus there too - in the unplanned moment of coloring a giraffe with my daughter or dancing with her in front of her mirror. I’m looking into her eyes and seeing the craftsmanship of this God of order.
He will break this addiction in me because He is here. He is present. He is with us, friends.
Recognize that your phone, your iPad, your need to keep a spotless house that no one will see are cheap distractions from this unprecedented gift we’ve been given:
Time. We’ve been given time to recognize that He is here with us.
Do not let the enemy steal away these moments. Put down your device. Have breakfast with your kids. Pray before your meals as a family.
Make a new routine centered around Christ.... instead of fitting Christ into your routine.
Stir slowly into the mornings. Jesus is there.
He is Emmanuel - God WITH us. Do not leave Him for an empty distraction.
In the words of Samuel, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
We are listening.
-- Leah Bendele