“K Man,” I asked my son, “Can you please run around the stairs 3 times making airplane sounds, do 2 somersaults, then pull all the cushions off the couch?”
Yeah. That’s not what I said. The request was to please go upstairs and get his shoes.
You might think that if my kids #1 are actually listening and hear my request, and #2 immediately get up to complete their task, that would be a miracle in itself. And you’re right. It’s jaw-dropping when that actually happens. But even at this point in the request process, I am usually still holding my breath. Will there be follow-through? As they walk through the living room on their way to completing the requested task, it’s suddenly as if they’ve never been there before. They look around them in awe. Wow, look at this soccer ball, this balloon, this toy! And imagine all the possibilities with the cushions on that couch! Suddenly, the shoe request (that was made only seconds before), is buried far beneath a pile of hundreds of other thoughts that have already flooded their minds and stolen their attention. Distractions.
More times than I can count, I will come upon one of the kids and it will be obvious that midway through the completion of a task, some distraction led to a complete 180. My son, fresh from the tub, was found naked in his chair, playing a video game, and another time on the sit-n-spin. Or, he was once caught in the bathroom with his pants and underpants at his ankles, totally engrossed in playing with the string on the blinds. The time I sent him to his room to get his shoes, I noticed 20 minutes later he was happily singing at his lego table.
“Did you get your shoes?” I asked, knowing the answer.
“Oh!” he said surprised, “Oops!”, he laughed as the clouds cleared and he remembered his original mission. “I got a little out of focus.”
I laughed at his expression, but think it’s pretty accurate. Our original task becomes a little out of focus as we allow other things along the way to cloud our vision.
I am equally prone to getting “out of focus”. I am easily diverted by distractions. Distractions can be so loud, they can deafen us to everything else. Worse, they can even fool us into thinking the distractions themselves are our goal. I get off track so often that it is hard to find my way back to my original goal.
Someone told me once that life is the distractions. That may be true. But I know for sure, if I’m not intentional about some things, I will be so “out of focus”, that I will never accomplish anything. Both at work and at home, I have often spent so much time “putting out fires”, that all I ever accomplished was just keeping things the same. So much effort can go into just keeping things the same, that it no actual forward progress is ever made. I call that survival mode. I’ve spent a lot of time in survival mode. And as I look back, I’ve never really been happy there.
So yes, I will appreciate the “life” that happens in the distractions. But I also will not let them get me “out of focus”. I could easily never make time to sit down to do this blog, to read scripture, or to exercise if I don’t make an intentional effort to ignore the distractions – even if just for a moment – and have enough focus to be intentional about meeting my goals. Because when it does happen, actually accomplishing something feels so good. Addicting. Energizing. Incredible.