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Control and Distraction: 2 Sides of the Same Counterfeit Coin

My life was dominated by a solitary quest: control.

Humanity’s desire for control began in the Garden of Eden, and no different than any other human, attempting to control my circumstances and the lives of those around me,  I inevitably end up stressed, anxious and burned out. 

Controlling things like my:

  • Children
  • Spouse
  • Family
  • Employers
  • Co-workers
  • Friends
  • Enemies 
  • Future
  • Loved one’s futures

Attempting to satiate my unhealthy appetites of comfort and self-promotion, I’m like a kitten dangling on a tree limb by its tiny claws, attempting to climb the unscalable. 

Jesus offered a light and easier way, but the unburdening took a guided, gradual awakening to His truth.

I hit rock-bottom before understanding, or hearing.

In the movie White Christmas, the Rogers and Hammerstein-like producers, Wallace and Davis, had a revealing conversation. Phil tried to convince Bob he needed to settle down. His logic depicted my life perfectly in 2018:

When what’s left of you gets around to what’s left to be gotten, what’s left to be gotten won’t be worth getting whatever it is you’ve got left.” 

I had nothing left to give, least of all, myself.

First working through my past with a counselor, I discovered healing through identifying false narratives and limiting beliefs.

Next, I learned essential skills like determining my values and setting healthy boundaries.

Control

The weight of the world less crushing, finally letting Jesus heft my burdens upon His brawny back; we walked the road less traveled at a less frantic pace.

Disclosing truths in all their brilliance and beauty as we walked, a blackness in my soul surfaced:

 I want what I want when I want it. Enter the twin taskmasters, try and try harder. 

In the ongoing process of letting go, Jesus continues to expose the cracks in my false beliefs. Completely counter-cultural and intuitive, His truths free me to let go. 

I lose sight of these truths when my desire for control surfaces, and surprisingly, distractions play a huge role.

Distractions induce stress because they’re time stealers. Losing my sense of agency over time—time famine—I’m suddenly fighting to control everyone and everything.

But I learned something beautiful from the Master of conquering distraction.

Jesus was fully present in every moment of His ministry.

We could never comprehend the level of distraction Jesus faced; He experienced the spirit and physical worlds simultaneously, yet He commanded them perfectly.

Leaving Jericho one hot, dusty day with disciples and a large crowd in toe, Jesus was surely bombarded with 20 questions at any moment.

But a man in the distance began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

Now, how many people were clamoring for His attention that day? Hundreds? 

Yet Jesus was present enough to hear this man’s cry. And not only that, He asked this man to be brought to Him, granting his request for healing! (Matthew 20:29-34)

What if Jesus had been deep in thought, wondering when He’d get a decent night’s sleep, a hot meal, or a moment’s peace? 

Would a marginalized, blind man left to beg for his survival have regained his sight that day?

For us, staying present requires cognitive resources, and our culture, replete with distractions, quickly depletes reserves.

Succumbing for years, I either raced at a frantic pace or was caught up in my own thoughts, most of them about me. (95% of our thoughts are about ourselves!)

How many giggle-filled moments with my children escaped because I had to check emails, finish a chore, or tend to the computer in my pocket distracting me a hundred ways?

How many crucial hours of sleep eluded me as I lay awake rehearsing conversations or circumstances that never materialized?

But when I manage the distractions instead of them managing me, it’s easier to hear the gentle whispers of the Spirit. Clarity of mind keeps me more fully engaged and alive to His Kingdom and my purposes in it.

Think about your last hour. What conversations and tasks ensued? Do you remember the words spoken, the sounds, sights, smells, and emotions you experienced? 

Or how many times did your phone ding or vibrate, shifting your focus from the people or tasks at hand? Each one begging to be noticed or managed.

Not every moment is memorable, but every moment has Kingdom potential.

Potential for connection, communion, productivity, and rest—of which desperately we need more. 

This week, would you join me in this potentially life-changing exercise? 

Pick a day to commit to documenting your activity in 30-minute increments.

I know; you’re thinking, nice idea, but no thanks. I thought the same thing. 

But if you write down 30-minute increments from waking to bedtime, jotting a word or 2 about your activity, you’ll likely find you have more time than you thought.

The science says we do, and we’re more distracted than we think. I sure was. We can do this together! 

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    “Time famine”. What a great word combo that describes what so many of us feel. I am going to try the 30 minute chunk of time exercise. Great job! Your writing always makes me pause and be still. Thank you!

  2. Lisa Underwood

    As I lay in bed this morning at 4:30AM, I started thinking about work, then the things I’m always praying about, first, my children. I had to force myself to think first about God, saying the Lord’s Prayer and going over every line, the first 1 being, “Our Father” two words which have give me so much to think about. My prayers are mainly, about me and mine. Then I prayed for the Ukranian and Russian people and the pain and turmoil of their lives. My point is it is definitely a skill and practice to put God first and others needs before my personal requests to the Lord. I hope I can find the discipline KC, to write down my thoughts, it sounds like a good exercise. It starts with awareness. And we both love data! Thank you friend. I am grateful for you.

  3. Lisa Underwood

    As I lay in bed this morning at 4:30AM, I started thinking about work, then the things I’m always praying about, first, my children. I had to force myself to think first about God, saying the Lord’s Prayer and going over every line, the first 1 being, “Our Father” two words which give me so much to think about. My prayers are mainly, about me and mine. Then I prayed for the Ukranian and Russian people and the pain and turmoil of their lives. My point is it is definitely a skill and practice to put God first and others needs before my personal requests to the Lord. I hope I can find the discipline KC, to write down my thoughts, it sounds like a good exercise. It starts with awareness. And we both love data! Thank you friend. I am grateful for you.

    1. KC Edmunds

      My dear friend, I am so thankful for you. Your honesty and integrity are truly beautiful. You have a precious heart for your family. And God sees that.

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