It’s been more than 30yrs, but I still remember one tackle. I was in elementary school and my parents were moving me from the YMCA football league to the City league. These kids were older and bigger. I was a little scared, but also knew that I was good. (Well, I thought I was.) It was my first day of practice and in spite of my nerves, I had something to prove. They put me in as a Defensive End and told me that my job was to make sure the ball didn’t get outside of me.
The quarterback got the ball and started running my way. I recognized it as the “Option” and saw him pitch to the running back. With 3 blockers coming right toward me, I could make out one leg on the runner. My heightened awareness caused everything to go into slow mo. I could see one tiny hole to thread the needle of defenders and I went straight to it. This wasn’t just a tackle during practice. I was earning my place on the team. It was important. I got him and more importantly, it caught the attention of my new coach.
I wonder if this is what we are all longing for? Singular purpose. Focus.Heightened awareness. A higher purpose for the mundane things we do each day. There were no distractions for me that day – well, not in that moment. Nothing could have taken me away from that moment. I was passionately pursuing that tackle and wouldn’t have noticed if a two-headed purple alligator had crawled onto the field.
Is there something that makes you get lost in the moment? Anything that stirs your passions so much that nothing distracts you?
The older I get, I must admit that the number of things that distract me has probably increased. My children command my attention and my bride deserves it, but I’m certainly guilty of not “hearing” them. When I’m with them, I find myself thinking about work or other things. When I’m at work, my mind is at home. I wonder how life would be different if I could truly just “be” wherever I actually am? Could I develop the kind of focus that allowed me to make that tackle in my regular, everyday activities? Somehow, I think Jesus may have been this way – completely present in every moment. The people He was with always seemed to think He was completely in tune with them. He always “heard” them. I wanna be like Jesus. Present. Focused. Passionate. Attentive. Loving.
John Medina, author of Brain Rules, explains that multi-tasking is a truly a myth. The way that the brain works doesn’t allow for it. Although the brain can do multiple things simultaneously (You can walk and talk at the same time or breathe and read a book.) the conscious brain can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Our tendency to listen to music, answer the phone, and send e-mails or text messages, while trying to write a paper or finish a project at work is not productive. A focused concentrated effort can go a long way to help manage our time.
Here’s how Medina explains: “Research shows that we can’t multi-task. We are biologically incapable of processing attention-rich input simultaneously.” Without going into the neurological details, Medina goes on to explain that there are 4 steps that the brain must go through each time attention is shifted from one task to another – four more when attention is shifted back. The process takes several tenths of a second each time. It doesn’t sound like much time but it adds up quickly and maybe more importantly, the distraction hinders the more complicated processes of the task at hand. If you’ve ever found yourself losing track of previous progress, or heard yourself say things like, “Now where was I?” then you have experienced this problem. Medina says, “Studies show that a person who is interrupted takes 50% longer to accomplish a task. Not only that. He or she makes up to 50% more errors.”
This means that if we would put our cell phones on silent (or God forbid – turn them off), close the layers of applications running on the computer, shut the door, and give our tasks a focused effort, we could probably accomplish much more during the day and have fewer errors in our work. Our minds are just too crowded by all the messages competing for our attention. The immediate gratification of our “information addiction” is hurting us. Maybe we should just choose to ignore a few things. All of this thinking reminds me of another post which was inspired by the phrase, Selective Ignorance.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a student, I was a procrastinator. (OK – I probably still am.) But when the deadline was approaching, I would stop everything else and focus on the project. Although I had weeks to work on it, I was able to get it done in a couple of hours with focused effort. Based on my own experiences, I believe know Medina is right.
What would my life look like if I fasted from multi-tasking? Would my kids get more of me? Would I be more present in the moment? Would I get more done? Which messages/projects would I choose to ignore? Would I have to ignore them at all if I had more time ’cause I was getting more things done?
Kasen wouldn’t sleep tonight. He was too distracted. He went to bed fine, but then woke up around 2am. Miranda rocked him. It didn’t work. I walked him. It didn’t work. When you start rocking him, he normally closes his eyes and rests and soon he’s asleep. When I walk him it’s the same way, but tonight his eyes were wide open. I watched on as he studied my shadow as it flowed across the ceiling. Then he looked for the source of the gentle hum coming from the computer and although it was dark, he tried to make out the images in the frames on our wall. Almost like he thought it was morning and time to get up. I walked him again and by about 2:45am, he was finally back to sleep. Now it’s 3:35 and I’ve been wide awake since then.
Anyway, I’ve been up tonight thinking about God. I wonder how many times He wants me to rest, but I’m too distracted looking around at all that fills my life? How many times has He walked me hoping that I’d just rest in His arms and feel comforted by His presence? I wonder how often I have been resting with Him and then been distracted in such a way as to miss out on His real blessings? I wonder how often I have imagined that it was time to be finished with my time with God when He had more for me?
Lord, help me rest in You without distractions.
I just thought I’d write about the strangest Bible class I’ve been to so far. It really wasn’t strange because of Dr. Loken, but because of me. About 10 minutes before I entered my class on the Psalms the other night, Miranda called me and said that she was pregnant. WooHoo!!! I’m gonna be a dad! Amazing!!!! I’m gonna be a dad! God is blessing me with a child of my own!!! I will have the opportunity to understand more fully the love that God has for me as I love my child unconditionally. I will learn how it must feel for Him to take care of my needs and I’ll get to learn how to love someone else more like the way He loves each of us. There’s no question – I’m clueless as to how this is gonna impact my life. I know it’s gonna be an amazing blessing, but I also know there are some tough roads to walk ahead of me. Lord, help me.
Anyway, all these thoughts are just racing through my mind as I try to concentrate on how the book of Psalms was put together, how there are 5 main sections, and how some are considered laments, and others are joyous, and others are for specific occasions like when kings were enthroned, and how this one was blah, and this one has a subscript that explains its blah, blah, and it wasn’t long before my mind was hearing blah, blah, "you’re gonna be a father," and blah, blah, blah, and "that’s a huge responsibility", and blah, blah. . . . . . . . . .Oh finally, a break – I’ll go call my mom!!!!
With a little grin on my face. . . ."Hey mom – yep – she’s officially pregnant!" I think her word that night was "Ecstatic!!!" Anyway, she says, "be sure to call your sister." (I found out later, that she had an ulterior motive – she was making sure that I’d be talking to Brenda next, so that she could call and tell my brother.) Anyway, I call my sister, Brenda, and tell her the good news and she’s all excited that she’s gonna be an aunt again. She also tells me that she and Schonn are getting ready to buy a new house. (Gosh, God is good – He’s blessing all of us in so many ways.) Next I call my brother, Roger, and it takes him a while to answer, but when he does, he says, "Congratulations!!!" That’s when I figured out what mom had done. Roger said, she called and said she just had to tell someone. I’m gonna have to give her a hard time about that one later.
OK – break’s over – Psalms, blah, blah, You’re gonna be a dad, acrostic psalm 119, blah, you were just a crazy sinner, and now you’re gonna be a dad, congratulations, blah, blah, read your favorite psalm to the class, hmm. . . . favorite psalm? which one is about being a Father? maybe 103? I dunno. . . .
I’m not sure what else we really talked about in class, but I do have good notes that I can look back over. Hopefully it’ll all come back to me when I need to know it.
I looked around at some of the Psalms to find a favorite and Ps 103 captures what I was feeling that night the best, but I also found a poem on-line that pretty well says what I’m feeling about being a Father. I changed almost all of it to fit my circumstances better, but a few of the lines are certainly not mine. Maybe we can call it my "modern Psalm" or something.
COME OUT AND PLAY
My heart seems to beat a little faster these days.
Maybe it’s the thought of my life changing in so many ways.
I’ve heard so many tales of sleepless nights,
And tests of patience taken to new heights.
Yet my excitement grows as we count down each week,
For I know soon we will finally meet.
I have a little fear, I must admit,
The whole fatherhood thing, will I be good at it?
I’ve always been told that I’m a big kid,
But Dad was the same, and I hope to be like him.
Should I imagine playing with footballs and spaceships?
or maybe Barbies, dancing, and painting lips?
I’ll introduce you to family, cousins, and dogs.
Our fridge will be home to the things that you draw.
I’ll raise you in church and pray His Word be Your sword.
Will the way that we live introduce you to the Lord?
I’ll take you to the zoo, and the mountains, and the beach.
What’s your favorite toy? and for what dreams will you reach?
Can I watch on as mom leads you in prayer?
What will it be like to brush your hair?
Will you run to our bed when you have a nightmare?
Will you be tall? Do you like cheese? What will you like to wear?
Can I slay the monster under your bed?
What other things will run around in your head?
How will I explain the birds and the bees?
Oh, I must have a million of these,
Answers to questions, questions to ponder,
Things to see, places to wander.
Together, we’ll be the ultimate team,
Limited only by what we can dream.
So as the weeks are counted down, I anxiously await,