Even if we are constrained by health problems or other restrictions, it’s all too easy to fail to be fully present in the moment. I thought multi-tasking was beyond me as an M.E and chronic illness sufferer, but I was wrong.
Having committed to a 30 day challenge to be “intentional about being fully present, tackling one task alone, wherever you are”, I realise my failure to do just that. Margaret Feinberg asks, “Could it be possible that focusing on one task at a time makes life better and more enjoyable?”
The main motivation is to “make more space for meaningful relationships, including our relationship with God”. Though I live a pretty inactive life by most standards, it turns out I still multi-task.
Here’s how I multi-task and fail to savour the moments
- Eating breakfast while scanning my phone/texting/tweeting/reading.
- Drinking coffee as I try to read the papers/check my phone/ try to maintain a pretence of conversing/assisting with the daily crossword puzzle.
- Reading erm…up the table or watching TV while eating lunch.
- Using the laptop with several tabs open at once so I can flit with ease between e-mails, writing, blogging, reading blogs, and internet browsing.
- Resting in bed while reading/checking my phone/finding it hard to relax..surprise, surprise.
- Eating dinner and making conversation with my husband, with the PC on in the background and TV audible from the living room.
- Watching TV as I talk through the programmes/maybe glance at a book/have a drink/snack/chat to my man/browse social media etc.
- Go to bed and read/pray/write a bit/try to sleep/jot down precious thoughts, poetry and insights/count sheep.
I’m not proud of my inattention. It can’t help me function well. My ‘wakeful’ periods tend to become filled with a quiet desperation to make the most of them. Though this way of carrying on isn’t wise, and it doesn’t equip me to savour my life.
Having a butterfly mind is a distinct disadvantage for an already fatigued, foggy, forgetful brain. Therefore you can see why I really need to do this challenge! Tuning out God’s voice is all too easy, but if we persist He may be forced to regain our attention.
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world” ~ C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain
Learning how to slow and savour God’s word
In an attempt to really concentrate on one task, I asked God to speak to me through His word as I was reading Psalm 147. Quietening myself before Him seems to work well as I start the day but there is a tendency to forget to reconnect with Him as it progresses.
As I read and re-read the passage, verse 18 seemed to leap out at me:
“He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow” – Psalm 147: 18
He sends his word..God takes the initiative. He begins the process whereby we hear from Him.
and melts them.. Our hard hearts are melted. The icy veil we pull over our hurt feelings becomes a soft puddle. Frozen emotions are thawed as we respond to His love.
he stirs up his breezes.. Again, the activity is first and foremost from God. The wind of the Holy Spirit is in the air. The scent of new life invigorates and cleanses out the old. Spring arrives and change occurs with an awareness of the sigh of His Presence.
and the waters flow.. Our tears may fall. There is an unimpeded flow as stagnant waters now flow freely. Dank pools of resentment and unforgiveness are cleared. A refreshing rain, cleansing and watering anointing for dry souls that thirst for a touch of grace to baptise us.
Those few minutes of undivided attentiveness yielded great abundance. If I’d simply read once, scanned briefly then moved on, I would have missed so much more that God was willing to teach me. I wonder how many precious moments could be lost from not being fully present, not taking time to savour them slowly?
The importance of pausing and going deep
How many more conversations would be deep, rich and meaningful, rather than lead to confusion and misunderstanding, simply because we fail to listen properly? Or how much of life’s enjoyment escapes eyes that skim the surface?
Sadly, far too much. So, I am going to have a go, to try to do one thing well instead of several things badly. I’ll aim to give people due consideration, give life due attention, and give God the time and focus He deserves.
As His One Word for me this year is, “Come” then I am signally failing to heed it if I prioritise other people and things or only pay Him scant attention. I may not succeed every day or be able to record every attempt.
But I want to zoom in, get up close, really notice what’s around me, be awed, amazed and..yes.. Wonderstruck anew at God’s goodness and grace.
What would it be like to glide with swan-like serenity through the choppy waters of adversity, with eyes calmly fixed on the route ahead? Far better, I expect, than duck-dabbling with furious, flustered paddling going on beneath the waves.
Perhaps this 30 day challenge will enable me to live with the peace of trusting God for each moment, this moment only, then the next, and so on. Will you join me? Uni-taskers unite!
You don’t have to take part for 30 days, but if you do then you’re giving yourself enough time to form new habits that may transform your life. Our friends and loved ones will benefit and so will we. Let’s try to savour the moment…starting now.
Funny you wrote this today. In church this week, Father's homily suggested that we aren't fully present when we pray because we are often involved in other tasks at the same time. He challenged us to write down how we felt before prayer this week, then to fully commit some time to the Lord in prayer, then to write down how we felt afterward. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't found the time to try the exercise yet, but I think perhaps your post is God's subtle reminder to me to take more time with Him. Thank you, Joy.
Thanks very much for sharing your insight, Staci. It's amazing how God uses various means to get us to listen to Him and be encouraged to be in His presence. I am happy to have been a small part of that process for you. May you be greatly blessed as you spend more time listening to God 🙂 xx
Joy lovely post, we all do this and we need to stop, slow down and smell the roses, appreciate what we have and live with the best intentions. Even though we have days where we fall short thats ok as long as we realise it and try again the next day. Thanks for your inspiring post.
Yes, Kathy, giving ourselves grace is SO important. That's a really valuable thing to realise. The usual tendency is to be hard on ourselves and give up on our good intentions before we've barely begun! Thank you for your lovely comment. 🙂 xx
I will join you. I can so identify with your chronically ill, always playing catch up during the non sleeping periods state. There becomes no time to just be and to fully appreciate the beauty of all God is and has done. Joy you inspire.. I want to be wonderstruck anew too!
Hi Mandy. Great to have you on board! We can share our progress and recognise the problems due to chronic illness. Let's do our best to live mindfully, focus on one thing at a time and enjoy to the full the great gifts God has given us. Bless you 🙂 xx
Joy I think this is my favorite post of yours so far! This line was so relatable "My 'wakeful' periods tend to become filled with a quiet desperation to make the most of them." You touched my heart today
Hi Christa. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such a lovely encouraging comment that touched my heart! I may often feel that quiet desperation but I hope to learn to be more at peace as this challenge goes on. Bless you 🙂 xx
Joy, I agree with Christa – this is my fave post of yours up to now. So full of truth and insight – we all multi-task way too much don't we, and a lot of the time it isn't a virtue at all. Thanks for sharing this wisdom with us, really grateful for this post (and love the quote by Lewis, just awesome!).
Hi James. It's an honour to have you here! Thank you very much for taking the time to leave this really encouraging comment. I think multi-tasking is going to be a very hard habit to break but it is worth the effort to seek to maximise performance and minimise stress. Bless you 🙂