Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Deadly Distractions

“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.”

“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don't just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.

Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance.

This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

Steven Pressfield

It’s not quite 5:30 in the morning and I’m extremely grateful to be here; extremely grateful.  Last night I tried writing, but I just couldn’t seem to stick with it.  So here I am, a few hours later, hoping that the third time will be the charm.  Maybe it won’t be.  Maybe I’m just going to write more garbage.  Maybe I’ve written my last blog.  Maybe I’ll take a look at the first two I’ve written and make them useful.  Or maybe I’ll finish this one. 
Sometimes writing is hard.  Well, no, writing isn’t hard.  It’s probably one of the easiest things in the world.  What’s hard are all the internal and external obstacles.  Ultimately, all the obstacles are internal.  All I need to do is keep my fingers moving.  I need to keep my mind grateful and clear and finish this blog.  I heard that every time I allow myself to get distracted that I lose an additional 15 minutes before I can get focused again.  I don’t think it takes that long, but I definitely additional lose time when I allow for distractions. 
Still, I keep writing.  As I said, the writing is the easiest part, but there are always those damned internal obstacles.  One of them is self-doubt.  One would think that after writing over 180 blogs, that I would just trust and know that something will come.  I mean, it’s the same battle almost every time.  I sit down to write, I say my prayer and I start typing.  Eventually something intelligent and worthwhile appears on the screen, but it always comes with a fight.  Yes, the words come naturally, but I still fight my fears, especially at this moment the fear that I have nothing left to say. 
This is why I don’t need pain in my life to create.  I’m already in pain.  I’m in pain every time I sit down because I desperately need to write and I haven’t yet.  I’m also in pain because my fear threatens to overtake me.  So do distractions.  I’m so tempted to switch over and look at Facebook.  I’ve done that once already, somewhere around the sixth or seventh sentence of the second paragraph.  I lost almost ten minutes! 
So I’m holding on for dear life now.  I’m just going to keep writing.  As I said, writing is not the hard part.  The difficult part is not writing.  The difficult part is ignoring the seemingly infinite number of distractions that keep me from writing.  The difficult part is not allowing my mind to wander and think about my kids or my job or money or love or the dirty dishes in the sink.
Here’s the exciting revelation though.  Every time I focus on my writing, then I am a writer.  When I focus on my teaching, then I am a teacher.  When I am focused on my daughters, then I am a parent.  When I am focused on loving and being present to what I do, then I am that.  I am a student.  I am a friend.  I am what God has created me to be. 
This is why distractions are one of the Enemy’s most underrated yet most powerful tools.  My callings are not jut lifetime callings; they are callings in each and every particular moment.  So when I’m called to write or teach or be a parent or a friend and I’m doing something else, then at that moment, I’m missing my calling. If I’m missing my calling, then I’m missing God’s plan for my life at that moment.   And then I’m missing God’s best for me. 
Distractions say that there is something better than God’s best for me.  That’s the lie I believe when I get off course, that there’s something better than what I’m supposed to be doing and being in that moment.  Looking at it that way, it seems ridiculous now.  The problem is that I don’t look at that way.  I just think it might be more interesting to look at a comic book than to do my work.  The moment I do anything else other than what I’m supposed to be doing is the moment I cheat myself and the world of my reason for living.  Distractions aren’t just annoying; they’re deadly because they threaten to kill my work and, ultimately, to kill me.
So now I’m staying focused and alert.  I’m almost done.  I can still feel the Enemy inside me, full of anger and frustration because I am staying focused.  It wants me to do be doing anything else but my work.   This morning it took a well-deserved beating.  Not only that, but because I stayed here and wrote, I was able to bring to the light one of its more insidious tricks and I’ll be more aware next time.
So now I can focus on other things peacefully.  And focus is what I have to do each moment.  I’ll fight this same battle later today and every begin writing, teaching, being a parent or a friend.  I need to focus when I’m studying or driving or making dinner.  But every moment I focus is a victorious moment.  The victory doesn’t come at the end.  There is no end to this battle.  The victory comes in each moment.  This really is a battle though.  As St. Paul says,
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

This really is a battle.  Anything worth doing is a battle. And anyone who doesn’t prepare him or herself for the battle is in for a shock.  Since I began writing this morning I’ve had to endure the incessant barking of some annoying little dog.  Now I can hear a mother and child arguing and I can’t decide who is more annoying, the whiney child or the mother who won’t stop lecturing.  Still, none of that is the problem.  The problem is allowing these distractions to get me off course.  I just need to get past the annoyances and distractions. 
The good thing is that I’m not in this battle alone.  The Muse is with me and this morning she helped me win.  As I said, I’m extremely grateful.  All I needed to do was to Get Started and to Keep Going…and stay focused.