Tuesday, September 27, 2016

limiting distractions // mary and the proverbs 31 woman

"but Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. she came to Him and asked, 'Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? tell her to help me!'
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’" -Luke 10:38-42

Martha was distracted and Mary chose what was better. busyness and imbalance is Martha's way. Martha rushed around doing the work and stressing out. but Mary chose to spend time with Jesus. Mary was okay with saying no to the other things so she could say yes to being fully attentive in His presence. 

i was out with my daughter the other day and we had a really nice conversation about Mary and Martha. we considered their differences and talked about why Jesus is "better." and then we brought into the conversation another woman deemed "worthy" and "virtuous" by the Lord: the Proverbs 31 woman

"She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.
She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.
She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.
She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants."
-Proverbs 31:13-24

come on, now. she seems like a busy woman! and yet her husband trusts her- she greatly enriches his life. she does the shopping, the meal prepping, takes care of the kids, makes household and family decisions, lends a helping hand to those in need, and contributes to her family's income. it even says that she wakes up early and works late into the night.

here is the difference, i think, between a perpetually busy woman and the Proverbs 31 woman...

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised." -Proverbs 31:25-27, 30

the Proverbs 31 woman is not burdened by her busyness. she laughed! that tells me she is lighthearted, easy going, and chill. she is kind and wise, strong and dignified, fearless and watchful. she reveres the Lord and He orders her steps. Mary and the Proverbs 31 woman had their priorities in order and did not give in to distractions. 

giving this some more thought, i examined the distractions that crop up in my life and contribute to that busy, unbalanced, frazzled feeling that i dislike so much. and just like the boundaries i try to have in place to prevent my own busyness, i have found some ways to limit distractions so i can stay focused on my daily priorities. it's very practical, yes. but i believe Mary, Martha, and the Proverbs 31 women are mentioned in the bible so we can learn from them. cheers to learning and growing!

how i limit distractions:

// i don't watch tv during the day. the only time the tv is on is at night after the kids are in bed, unless it's family movie night or on the weekends, the kids get a little bit of tv time. we don't have tvs in any of our bedrooms. there are a LOT of reasons our family chooses to limit our tv-watching, one of them is that it is simply a distraction. i do like to turn on the radio sometimes so we have uplifting music playing quietly in the background of our day. 

// i don't spend a lot of time on facebook. i literally log on, post or schedule posts, and log off as quickly as i can. i check notifications sometimes but not always. yep i am probably missing out on the latest updates from friends and cute puppy videos but remember how i feel about FOMO? just say no! ;) it is so easy to get distracted scrolling the feed, reading everyone's updates, looking at everyone's photo albums, feeling obligated to comment or like or share, clicking through to websites, and searching for long lost pals...so many rabbit trails. again, there are a LOT of reasons i limit my time on facebook, but mostly i have identified it as a distraction from the better ways to spend my time. maybe facebook isn't your distraction, maybe for you it's something else like pintrest or twitter or snapchat? identifying distractions is crucial if we want to limit them and find that natural balance. this is not the first time i've written about this. 

// i make presence a priority. one of my personal top priorities is to be present. i don't want to get to the end of the day and look back on it and it's all a blur. many moments throughout the day when i'm with others, i have the choice - i can either distract myself in my phone, with a household chore, or with work, or i can engage with my kids, my husband, my friends, or do something purposeful in that moment if i'm alone like read for personal growth, journal, pray, or send an encouraging text. i choose to be fully present, turn moments into something memorable and meaningful, and not escape them in a meaningless distraction. my kids will remember that i was available, attentive, made eye contact with them, engaged in their conversation, or if i was always on my phone too "busy" with an app or game to look up and be present. i won't get this time back. the opposite of presence is absence, and the last thing i want is to be an absent mom/wife/friend. i want to be like Mary.

// i don't get caught up. i try not to get overly involved in things that don't matter. and by that i mean things that waste my time, are not life-giving, and are not eternally impacting. for instance, world/local news (i don't read/watch it!), celebrity drama, neighborhood gossip, community rumors, work politics, or things like that. it's not a priority of mine to be involved in the latest political boycott, to keep up with the YouKnowWhos, or to know the private business of my neighbors. i'm very selective about the blogs and articles that i read online, too. if it is consuming my thoughts, making up most of my conversations, or playing a factor in how i live my life, it's a distraction. also, a lot of those kinds of distractions contribute to anxiety, depression, and isolation. there is a difference in being aware and being distracted. getting caught up in stuff of that nature distracts me from the more important things in my life. staying off of facebook and not watching tv helps me to not get caught up in worthless thinking/speaking. i love this Rick Warren quote: "living in light of eternity changes your priorities."

// i don't beat myself up. that is to say, i give myself grace. if i have a busy day or for whatever reason my priorities slip out of line, i don't wallow in guilt or shame, and i don't give up entirely. i consider even those days that seem out of order ordained by God; everything for a reason. and i keep moving forward. guilt (over things like this) is a distraction that will certainly mess with my head and my heart, keeping me from being productive and focused.

identifying and limiting the distractions in life is key to finding balance, as is putting boundaries on our busyness. having priorities in order, keeping eternity in mind, and considering the things that will matter and last gives my life a natural, easy balance.

doing the things- being a wife, a mom, taking care of the house, serving at church, having a social life - it can all be done and done well. i believe God's will for us is to live full, abundant lives (John 10:10), unburdened and with ample time of rest (Matthew 11:28-30), but that we need to be aware of distractions and busyness (Luke 10:38-42). the goal is to walk in that. 
there is a right time for everything... -ecclesiastes 3

how do you find that natural balance? what distractions do you limit in your life?