I don't know about you, but I think I have spiritual A.D.D. (a term I made up for myself). Let me explain.
By God’s grace and for as long as I can remember, I have had a deep love for Scripture. Even as a young girl I would spend hours pouring over the pages of the Bible, reading, studying, reflecting and memorizing. In my late teens, early twenties, I got into a routine of reading my Bible, journaling, and praying every morning to start off my day. It is a discipline I totally recommend!
There is a problem though. The problem is me. Often, right in the middle of my meditation on Scripture, my mind will jump to other things. I find myself so easily distracted. Hence the title: Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder.
Most days begin with good intentions. I want to keep my thoughts focused on the things of Christ. But so quickly, without even realizing it, there are a hundred other thoughts that flood my mind and push my good intentions aside. There are just so many things vying for my attention all day long. There are superficial concerns before I leave the house, like what to wear or how to do my hair, and at work there is always a host of other distractions. After work a plethora of new diversions are calling to me: Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, novels (a personal weakness of mine), what to make for dinner etc. Your diversions are probably different than mine or maybe they’re similar, but the point is that there are so many things competing for our attention each and every day. Obviously some of these things are empty while others have some value. But if any of them pull our minds away from Christ they’re misplaced and need to be reorganized or maybe even cut out altogether.
I don’t think I am being extreme at all. Scripture is very clear:
"Set your mind on things above ..." Colossians 3:2-4
"All things are lawful, but not all things build up..." 1 Corinthians 10:26(b)
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8
So what are we supposed to do? Are we stuck? Can we blame stress, our personalities or our culture for throwing a myriad of entertainment, images and constant temptations our way?
No, spiritual distractedness, short attention spans, and busy minds (my spiritual A.D.D.) are merely symptoms of a much deeper problem.
There is a reason why Scripture uses the words "train" and "discipline" so many times. There is a reason why we are constantly exhorted to "put to death the deeds of the body..." (Rom 8:13). There is a reason why we are commanded in the Bible to train ourselves for godliness! This training is not unlike the physical training that many of us value and that, to some, can become an unhealthy obsession. And yet it’s better in every way! Even still, for some reason we tend to shy away from the "T" and "D" words when it comes to our spiritual lives. At times many of us struggle to incorporate an actual training regimen into our walks with Christ. We love the spiritual disciplines in Galatians five but often leave off the last one. We’re all for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and faithfulness, but what about self-control? Why is it that we feel like abstaining from things that distract us from Christ is being legalistic? Why do we think that limiting, even some of the good things in life, for the sake of training in godliness is taking it too far?
Why shouldn't I: Go on Pinterest, watch sports, drink alcohol, binge on Netflix, go to the gym for an extra hour etc.? Why should I wrestle at night while I lay in bed trying to curb my thoughts because my mind is flooded with a million things other than Jesus?
Maybe the answer to that question is in our motivations.
Paul says, "I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1 Cor 9:27) If we are not willing to give up some "good" things in this very short life, then how can we be sure that we really value the ultimate thing? Regardless of what we say or think, what do our actions tell us? If we are not willing to train ourselves for godliness, discipline ourselves for righteousness, and use self-control to shape our daily lives, what does that say about our desires?
These are the questions that I have been asking myself. If I am honest, at times the suggestion of abstaining from or limiting some of my daily comforts can cause my heart to kick back in resentment. Which tells me something about my desires. My flesh will often whisper deceptive things like: it's harmless, everyone else can, I deserve it, I can stop anytime, God wants me to enjoy things, but these are all clues that my flesh is clinging to something other than Christ. What I have discovered is that the only cure for my Spiritual ADD is truly knowing and believing that Jesus alone can satisfy!
Only in Jesus can we find fulfillment, joy, rest, strength and peace, that frees us from the constant need for escape. While, on the other hand, the more we allow our minds to reach out their greedy tendrils and attempt to find fulfillment for our desires elsewhere, the harder it will be to focus on Christ. Training, discipline, and self-control are not swear words, they are an integral part in our journey toward Christlikeness.
We have to be diligent in recognizing our areas of weakness and in creating helpful habits to compensate for these tendencies. And at the end of every day, every step in the right direction is evidence of God’s grace in our lives.