Distracted

Distraction has become a habit.

The world is a busy place. “Busy” is the new “fine.” How are you doing? How are things? How’s life? It’s fine. It’s busy. Busy but fine.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most distracted one of all?

Huh, that’s funny. The reflection’s not changing.

I am a full-time high school student, scrambling to not just get college applications in but also to do interviews, apply for scholarships, fill out information for honors programs, and schedule visits. In addition, I work about 20 hours a week, volunteer twice a week, head the school newspaper, and try my best to have a social life.

Distracted.

It’s funny how even the busiest of us still find times for our phones, though, isn’t it? For the internet? Goodness, I love the internet. I think it’s a wonderful place. But it’s another

distraction

meant to ease our minds. But does it?

Listen, the reality of it is, I can’t really simplify my life all that much. I have to go to school, I have to navigate this college chaos, I have to work in order to save for said college. But I can change my outlook on it.

I’m a fairly anxious person. I don’t show it that much. I’ve gotten better in the last few years at dealing with it. There were some cool but not super fun ways God has made me more resilient. But I have this color-coded schedule glaring up at me as I type and it’s just so

distracting.

Most of my anxiety is future-oriented. I’m a pretty future-oriented person. I have a hard time relaxing now knowing I have work to do later. Even when I’m in the moment of something part of my brain is worrying about the other three things I have to get done that day and mentally calculating the time I’ll have to do them and when on earth will I have the chance to refuel and it’s completely crowded, drowning,

distracted.

Learning to live in the moment is less about not planning for the future and more about, as my dad says, “controlling the controllables.” When I’m in school, I can’t also be working or planning. When I’m with friends, I can’t also be writing an essay or doing an interview. So controlling the controllables means looking at where I am and saying, “What am I doing right now?” and doing that to the best of my ability, with my whole mind, rather than letting it splinter.

“For I have learned in whatever situation the secret of being content.” I was talking about this verse with my Pre-K Sunday school class this morning and I asked them why they thought Paul could be content, why he could be joyful and satisfied, even when crazy things were happening. The answer? “When I am afraid I will trust in God, I will trust in God, I will trust in God. When I am afraid I will trust in God, in God whose Word I pray.” I will trust in God, whose Word I pray.

(This is a quick side note, but the Word of God is the most incredible thing. The words wash over you in this way that is both refreshing and restorative and cleansing and yet also cuts straight to the heart.)

Lord, teach me the secret of being content! Let me trust you not just with my words or even actions but with my heart. I will go out on the limb, I will scale the mighty summit, I will step into the waves, just keep my eyes above. Thank you, Jesus!

“Lift up your eyes on high, and see! Who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power: not one is missing.

“Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.”  (Isaiah 40)

It’s funny how when we remember who exactly our God is, everything else goes strangely dim.

May you not strive to control the uncontrollables, but remember who can.

Blessings,
Bre

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Thanksgiving and Grace

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Okay, so maybe it’s just me, but I had a bit of a harder time than usual with the “thankful” part of Thanksgiving this year.

Granted, I had all the prerequisites in place: family gathering at grandma’s, more food than we could eat, football and an Eagles victory…but still, something seemed lacking. Maybe it was the stress involved in the rush out the door in the morning; maybe it was the long car ride; maybe it was simply that my focus was wrong.

Today, I realized what it really was.

Every year, I get asked if I’m going Black Friday shopping. And every year, Thanksgiving becomes more and more consumer-focused. It’s really just Black Friday Eve. Two years ago, stores opened at midnight. Then they bumped it up to 9 pm. This year stores opened at 6 pm or earlier, and some were open all day.

It’s not just Black Friday shopping, though. On Thanksgiving Day, I received an alarming number of notifications and texts from friends–and I replied to them! I’m not saying we shouldn’t be announcing our thankfulness to those we love, but isn’t it better to enjoy it with family rather than being distracted by other conversations at the same time? Wouldn’t it be worth it to unplug, just for a little while, and enjoy the moment?

Even as I ramble on, though, I realize that it’s not just Thanksgiving. We–meaning society as a whole, myself most definitely included–have a general attitude of self-serving entitlement. We look out for number one, rather than living for an audience of One. We think about ‘what’s in it for me’ rather than looking to serve. We think we deserve a good life rather than recognizing that everything we have is all because of grace.

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It’s a powerful word. A provocative word. A beautiful word. A scandalous word. A marvelous word. A taken-for-granted word.

I deserve nothing.

“God,” wrote Max Lucado in his book Wild Grace (which I highly recommend), “answers the junk of life with one word: grace.

“We talk like we understand the term. The library gives us a grace period to pay a late fine. The no-good politician falls from grace. Musicians speak of a grace note. We describe an actress as gracious, a dancer as graceful. We use the word for hospitals, baby girls, kings, and pre-meal prayers. We talk like we know what grace means.

“Especially at church. Grace graces the songs we sing and the Bible verses we read. Grace shares the church office with its cousins: forgiveness, faith, and fellowship. Preachers explain it. Hymns proclaim it Bible schools teach it.

“Here’s my hunch: we’ve settled for wimpy grace. It politely occupies a phrase in a hymn, fits nicely on a church sign. Never causes trouble or demands a response. When asked, ‘Do you believe in grace?’ who could say no?

“This book asks a deeper question: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped by grace? Strengthened by grace? Emboldened by grace? Softened by grace? Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace? God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A whitewater, riptide, turn-you-upside-downness about it. Grace comes after you. It rewires you. From insecure to God-secure. From regret-riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid to die to ready to fly. Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off. Once you encounter it, you’ll never be the same.”

Grace–real, wildwater grace–is the kind of grace that demands a response.

So respond.

My mentor, Emily House, has told me multiple times that “Thankfulness is the opposite of entitlement. It is impossible to complain when you’re being thankful.”

So if you’re struggling with selfishness, remember grace. Remember how far you were, how worthless, how sinful, how shameful, how lost, and remember the God who saved you from yourself, who loved you when you rejected him, ignored him, cursed him, denied him, and who never let you go, never gave up on you, and never will.

Grace is a God who stoops.” –Max Lucado

Just a little reminder. I know Thanksgiving is over, meaning its time to deck the halls and all that to get ready for Christmas, but everything I’ve said still applies. So happy holidays, and don’t forget what really counts.

–Bre