Life is full of distractions. Anything and everything around us can be a distraction to something else. Some are good distractions (our kids being silly and distracting us from some household chore that can likely wait while we enjoy the distraction). Some distractions are neutral in that maybe they would be considered a waste of time in some instances, but in others they simply provide a welcome respite from a busy day. And then there are the negative distractions, the ones that pull us away from the good things in our lives.
Lately I’ve been more aware of the negative distractions in my life. I’ve been home on maternity leave since December, enjoying time with my newest bebe and the welcome break from my work. During these last few weeks of my leave I finally feel well enough to do more around the house, to get out to run errands and meet up with friends, and overall I just feel more like myself. Through all of this, I have had more time to evaluate things in my life, something I never get to do while balancing family and work, and I’ve taken more notice of the things that have become negative distractions. I have come to the stark realization, therefore, that there are things in my life that have to go.
Begone. Scram. Outta here!
For me, right now, I’m looking at the time wasted in front of the TV, my time online, and the piles of stuff I accumulate that need to be read, filed, or tossed. Those are the most looming at the moment. The most important realization in contemplating these negative distractions is how they affect my prayer life and my relationship with Christ.
That relationship is something I have been seeking for a long time. It’s something I greatly desire. And yet, no matter how much I desire it and seek it out, I feel like I haven’t grown in this area at all. And it’s not for want of trying. But there is an element I keep missing:
A regular, scheduled prayer time.
I’ve always taken a casual approach to prayer, basically that I will fit it in during the day “at some point.” You know what happens when you do that, right? Yea, I’m sure you do! We’ve all done it, I’m sure. You say you’ll spend time in prayer “at some point.” The first day you spend a bit of time in prayer after the kids go down for a nap. The next day you get it in before bed. Then you remember after you’ve climbed into bed, you tell yourself you’ll do it in the morning but mid-way through the day you realize you once again forgot. Slowly it becomes harder and harder to fit it in or you forget completely or something else distracts you and before you know it things start to unravel.
I schedule almost everything in my life. If it’s not on my calendar, it won’t get done. I’m also a list maker. There are three lists at work: a yearly “big projects” list, a monthly goals list, and a weekly to-do list divided up by each day of the week (which technically could be considered two lists in one). At home I also have at least one to-do list, sometimes two. I keep an electronic calendar at work which syncs with my iPod Touch calendar. At home we also have a wall calendar and I try to put everything from the wall calendar on my electronic calendar as well. Most things on the electronic calendar also have 15 or 30 minute alarms set. And the older I get, the more I rely on all these calendars and lists and alarms.
You know what the one thing is that is not on any of my lists or my calendars/schedules? Prayer!
You know what else is not on my to-do list? Watching TV, reading blog posts, sifting through Facebook, and playing online games. And yet I somehow manage to do all those things, practically daily.
They are all distractions. That has been my (oh so obvious!) conclusion. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out, but sometimes genius thoughts escape me. Oh, who am I kidding, genius thoughts never get anywhere near this girl.
It’s easy to get in a rut. And when that happens it’s easy to not see the obvious. I kept looking at prayer as something to add to my day, on top of everything else I was already doing. Instead, I need to refocus, get rid of the distractions, and make prayer a priority. A better prayer life will lead to a better relationship with God, which will in turn also lead to a healthy family life.
After thinking through all of this I realized that I have a good opportunity to start working on this. Lent is coming!! Less than two weeks from now we’ll be starting the penitential season of Lent. It’s a good time to work on a more intimate relationship with Christ. So this year, my husband and I have decided to give up TV.
As we approach Lent and you start thinking about what you are going to “give up,” I challenge you to consider this idea of “giving something up” as a way to clear the cobwebs and distractions from your life so as to have a clearer path for seeking a more intimate relationship with God. Hopefully in giving something up for Lent we are doing so in order to gain something else. That’s what I’ll be doing this year.
What distractions in your life are keeping you from bettering your relationship with God? Will you take those distractions into consideration when discerning what you will be doing this Lent?
If you need suggestions for things to do in Lent, check out last year’s Handy Dandy Resource Guide to Lent.
Kerri Baunach is a Catholic wife and mother of three boys (plus three in heaven). She and her family live in beautiful central Kentucky where she is active in her church, a member of Cursillo, and a Benedictine Oblate. Kerri often writes on her Catholic faith, pregnancy loss, her kids, and pro-life issues. Kerri is a former music librarian (16 years) now stay-at-home mom, was a musician for over 20 years, loves taking her kids to the library (and loves that they love it), is passionately pro-life, can’t cook, and has lived in six states. In additional to writing at Catholic Sistas you can also find Kerri on her own blog at Journal of a Nobody.