I remember being young and reading a book for hours at a time, or sitting at the computer and pounding out pages of my current novel. I could sit and do one thing for a long period of time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been exposed to more of life’s distractions. Some are responsibilities, which of course need to be dealt with in due course, but so much of what vies for my attention is just… nothing.

     My baby is napping; I should be blogging. And while I am doing that now, over the past half hour I have visited Pinterest to browse crochet patterns, Amazon to add items to my birthday wishlist, and Facebook because maybe someone added something interesting to the Marketplace (because I totally have money to spend and time to meet up *eyeroll*). Oh, and I’ve also checked texts and perused some Fred Meyer coupons. I’ve been bouncing around from one thing to the next without really accomplishing anything worthwhile.
     If you asked me, “Hey Mariah, do you want a solid block of time to just write and get a post or two finished?”, I would emphatically answer yes! But when presented with said time, I suddenly find myself assaulted by distractions and caving to things that ultimately don’t matter.
     I don’t want to sit here and waste this precious time. Yet so often I do. Why? Why is it so hard to be diligent, to say no to the myriad of internet distractions? Even if you took all the electronics away and left me with simply a pen and piece of paper, my mind would still be busy and unwilling to settle down.
     The sad reality is, I have lost the focus I had when I was younger, and the fault lies with me. I think that this happens to many of us. When we start using the internet more, when we get a smartphone, when we have social media accounts and apps and this need to stay connected and in-the-know, it is dangerously easy to let it slip into something habitual. We cry that as adults we are so busy and have no time – and yet what do you do when you have a free moment? Chances are, you reach for your phone. I’ll just check Instagram real quick.
     I am not here to judge. I’m admitting that this is something I deeply struggle with. I long to be the kind of person who can really focus and be diligent, who doesn’t need to run to social media for a daily (or hourly) feeding, who is comfortable and able to embrace the quiet moments and enjoy peace, not run away from it in search of entertainment and distractions. I don’t want my daughter to ever think that my phone is more important than her. I don’t want to miss out on making memories with her.

     Our country as a whole has a serious addiction problem, and I for one don’t want to contribute to the statistic.
     What is the fix? I believe that the first step is to learn to say no. Maybe start in one or two areas first, wherever you struggle most.
     Let’s say Facebook is your big time consumer. Every time that you think about checking Facebook, whether consciously or just by reaching for your phone, take note. Be intentional. Ask yourself, Do I really need to do this right now, or am I just filling time? If it is the latter, I guarantee there are so many other more valuable ways to do so.
     Don’t give in to impulse. Force yourself to think about the what and why and make a conscious decision. You may be surprised at how often you walk away.

     I miss what I’ve lost, and I am determined to break free of these bad habits. For myself, my family, those around me, and the mission of the Christian life, it’s time to change.

     What ways do you struggle with media addictions / distractions? What are some ways you fight against it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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