Okay – truth be known – I am easily distracted. (hold the “amens”, girls!) One of our daughters used to call out “Gayle” loudly when “Mom” failed to get a response after three or four tries. That did get my attention! I’ve always said my mind is on higher things – although that may not always be the case. I also have claimed I have an active mind. I am visually oriented, which has served me well as an artist, but occasionally leads to swerving off the road while spying particularly deep blue hydrangeas in someones yard, or noticing a combination of fall foliage that is striking. This is not due to advanced age – I attribute our youngest daughter’s unusually accurate sense of direction to the fact that she started at an early age giving me directions while driving since she realized I had missed a turn or was heading the wrong way.
Yet, I can focus when I choose to. As an act of my will I intentionally pay attention to road signs to get to my intended destination – beautiful flowers along the roadside flitting by unnoticed or not. There will always be things that distract me, but I can choose to focus my attention on what is most important.
I have visited playgrounds literally all across the country with our grandchildren. Our daughters all know where parks with playgrounds are located and we have packed picnics and enjoyed playing with our grandchildren as they show us their ability to navigate the jungle gym or slide down the big slide. I love to see children playing outside – running, swinging, jumping, sliding, climbing, yes, and sometimes falling. The joyful abandonment they feel playing in the outdoors is a blessing to watch.
I have noticed something that saddens me, though. As we are playing with the grandkids, I notice that many parents are sitting on the perimeter of the play area engrossed in their electronic media. Moms and dads are texting, checking the internet, even playing games on their smart phone while their children are unnoticed and sometimes unsupervised. They are not “playing together” – parents and children are isolated from each other by the distraction of their phones, etc.
I have had little boys and girls come up to me while playing with my grandchildren and ask me – a total stranger – “Watch me slide down – I can do it!” or “Will you push me next?” “Look – I can climb up all by myself!” These children see me bragging on my grandchildren, catching them, pushing them on swings, playing with them, and they want that same attention – but it is not available for them. I have a sense that sometimes the parents bring their children to the playground so the children will not distract the parent while the parent is using their electronic device.
Certainly their is a time and place to use I-Phones, Kindles, etc. Yet parents are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to play with their children at the playground. I will venture to say that there is opportunity to do both at a playground – play with your child and let the child play by herself or with other children. Yet I have watched parents look up in disgust when a child repeatedly calls for their attention – either looking like they are upset for being distracted from their I-Pad, or even saying – “Not now – can’t you see I’m busy?” It is important to be intentional about interacting with our children – that does not mean saying “Good Job” without looking up from Facebook!
It is likely that in most all these situations the parents are loving, caring individuals. They are just distracted. At that moment – something is more important to them than their children. What message is this sending to their child?
As a Christian, I can be easily distracted as well. Sometimes the very thing distracting me is a blessing, but it has moved into my field of vision in a way that blocks my focus on Jesus. I like they way the Amplified version of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews puts this –
1THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,
2Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds.
Let us make an intentional effort on focus on what really matters as mothers and daughters of our heavenly Father.
God Bless You!