Tonight as I watched the newest Hallmark Christmas movie (Yes, I have a problem. But no, there is not a support group for that.) I was sidetracked by a realization. The main character was a writer. When working, he sat down at a clean, orderly desk in a clean, orderly room. He wouldn’t be embarrassed if a delivery man rang his doorbell. In fact, he could’ve been working in an office job with the way he was dressed. When music interrupted his quiet, he was unable to work.
In almost every movie I’ve seen about writers, the professionally dressed writer sits at some variation of the same highly organized desk in their quiet working environment. I must have missed the memo on proper writing spaces and attire. In theory, this dedicated, peaceful place to write sounds wonderful. I may even dream of someday being able to write full-time and setting aside a room in my home for that purpose. My reality is very different.
Though my passion is writing, it has yet to pay the bills. I work a full-time job as a receptionist. I live in a house with four other people. There is no room for a dedicated work space. More often than not, I write in sweat pants while stretched out on the living room couch. I’m interrupted by the cat who can’t decide if it wants in or out. My teenage sons need help with homework, something to eat, or questions that must be answered now. My husband calls to see if we need anything before heading home at and usually wants to chat too. Silence for writing? I think it’s a myth.
Some days the distractions pull me from my course. I set out with an admirable goal of writing that next chapter only to find myself hours later with one measly paragraph on the page. I turn off my computer frustrated at the wasted hours and disappointed with myself that I couldn’t get something done.
Disorder and distractions are part of my writing life, but I can’t let them keep me from what I love. Instead, I manage them. I don’t come home from work and jump straight into writing. I know I have to make supper. So, I do that first. Then, I leave it so they can eat as they arrive home.
I’ve mentioned writing to music because it sets the tone for what I’m writing, but that’s not my only reason. The music is ordered sound. It helps me block out the chaotic sounds of three teenage boys whether they’re talking, playing video games, or listening to their own music.
Distractions can do more than derail writing time. They can be a powerful source of frustration and disappointment in other areas of life as well. Distractions in our spiritual lives try to pull us from getting closer to God. There are times when our own desires provide the distractions. We let other things we want to do come between us and our personal time with God.
Other times, we shift our attention from God to what the world offers. Consider Peter’s venture onto the stormy sea. He let what was going on around him move his focus from the only one who could help him to the wind and waves. Then, he began to sink. He’s not the only one. When the people of Israel sent the twelve spies into the land God promised them, only two of those ten men kept their focus on the truth that God promised them the land. The other ten focused their attention on the challenges in front of them, and their distraction caused the people of Israel to lose out on seeing the immediate blessing of God’s promise.
Instead of becoming distracted, we need to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). We need to remember that God’s greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). When we do these things, our relationship with God will become stronger. We’ll begin to see what God wants to do in us and through us. We can become the people God intended us to be when we get rid of the distractions.
By the Book: Read the story of the twelve spies in Numbers 13-14:38. Think about the things that distract you in your relationship with God. What steps can you take to rid yourself of those distractions?