Writer’s block. Lack of focus. Yep. This has been where I have been over the course of the past few weeks each time I have sat down to write this blog post. Was it brain fog? Did I need a second cup of coffee? After all, I AM a sleep deprived mom of a toddler. I mean, right?
“What’s wrong with my brain….why can’t I just focus and pick a topic!? Um, hello, I have a deadline to meet!” I would anxiously think to myself while simultaneously checking Facebook, flipping back and forth to Instagram to respond to comments and likes on my most recent photos of my son at the park. The text message headline bar starts highlighting itself above my Instagram photo stream. Sooner or later I find myself in a text conversation, making plans for a spontaneous playdate and heading out the door to return home hours later exhausted after a slew of last minute errands along with a full bag of unplanned purchases from Target. Who ever leaves Target with the few things they had in mind to buy anyway? I mean I NEEDED that clearance tank top for ONLY $3.99 and that candle holder…and more art supplies for my son. More clutter. More distraction. Another day goes by.
“Ok…focus….Staci. You CAN do this.” I would encourage myself out loud the next day in front of the computer, taking a deep breath in and letting out an audible sigh of frustration. What was this chapter about again? I skim my Kindle highlights while sifting through all the mental clutter taking up my mind. Being present just isn’t happening as I re-read the same chunk of words over and over. I search YouTube for an inspirational song to get my spirits up, which then triggers a thought that I need to bookmark that one podcast my friend told me about at small group the week before. An hour later, I am on rabbit trail of random podcasts and sponsored links to mom blogs that leave me swimming in a sea of comparison. I make a mental note to buy clear plastic bins and labels the next time I’m at Target to organize my son’s new art supplies and toys. I stare out the window throwing myself a pity party in my mind for all the times I’ve failed this week in Mommy-hood.
I’m jolted out of my gloomy daze as my iPhone lights up and vibrates several times next to my computer mouse that is neighboring a huge leaning tower of books, mail, and miscellaneous papers. My son comes over to my desk, summoning me to a pile of toys with the tug of his little, precious hand and a grunt, bumping into the desk. The leaning tower of clutter gives way and scatters. I scoop it all up into an even more disarrayed pile and follow after my son.
Peering over at my computer screen, I see the block of the blank white light empty word document taunting me with its blinking cursor ticking time away with each beat. It dawns on me as I sit in a heap of my son’s mega-blocks just what purpose The Lord had in giving me this chapter: Clear to Clutter. I was drowning in it and needed to start being more purposeful and intentional with my time. No wonder I couldn’t focus to save my life! What was holding me back? What a handpicked topic just for me. I hear You, loud and clear, Lord! It was time to evaluate what weeds I needed to get to the root of and clear out. What was clear is that I was distracted and I asked Jesus to reveal to my heart WHY I was giving a foothold to so many distractions.
Lara Casey writes:
“Distractions are what we see on the surface; they are the things that grow in our lives because of something deeper going on under the surface. Distractions may include things such as excessive social media, TV, food, shopping, negative thoughts, chasing perfection, gossiping, comparison, worry, or other negative influences and temptations. Distractions themselves typically aren’t the root problem, though.”
Question: What are your most common distractions? What is the root cause of each distraction? Some possibilities include fear, anxiety, a need to control, or the desire to escape from a reality you don’t want to face.
What was MY root? Questioning my distractions started to magnify and bring into focus my dream I had shared with the Lord during this year: I wanted to encourage through writing. I wanted to become a better writer. The thing is, I see through my all my distractions that I am TERRIFIED of not being a “good enough” writer. I wasn’t like my favorite bloggers and authors. What if my voice didn’t resonate with people? The weeds of comparison was yucking up the growth of any fruit in my garden, deterring me from beginning a single sentence.
The roots of fear and wanting to escape from starting something that might not be received the way I hoped, kept me from tending to these weeds and sowing good seeds towards my dream. It has kept me from blogging, dreaming up a book, and seeking resources to help cultivate greater writing skills. I have found myself, more times than not, doubting my dream and talking myself out of stepping up, taking that leap and making it happen. The fear of failure was squeezing the life out of my dream.
Question: Are you chasing perfection or numbing something you don’t want to feel?
I once was told by a wise mentor: “ If you want to be a writer…you have got to start writing. Just simply begin and keep going.” It was much easier to give into distraction than start being intentional with my time and mental focus. How can I ever grow as a writer if I never put my fingers to the keys? Seems so silly, but the lie of the enemy can feel very real. 2 Corinthians 10:5 gives us the key to defeating fear filled mental clutter and taking hold of what God has for us when we start pursuing our dreams with purpose and intention:
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
So what is on my agenda so I can make it happen? In order to begin, I’ve got to clear the clutter, take my thoughts captive, and let His purpose for me take the stage. This means clearing mental (and physical) clutter by making the time and effort to live on purpose. This means making a plan and taking action! Once we take our thoughts captive and align our hearts with His, the staircase will soon appear leading us up to our higher calling. Lara reminds us:
“Don’t get overwhelmed by thinking you need an endless amount of energy to make a change; you need only the energy to take the first step. Then you can take the step after that.
If God is calling you to something greater, He will equip you in His way and timing.”
So today, my friends, I took another step. I turned off my phone and notifications, cleaned the mountain of junk off my desk, prayed in faith to overcome fear and wrote out these very words your are reading. It may not be perfect-but it was intentional, on purpose, and aimed to glorify Him through obedience. This right here is part of pulling up the weeds that clutter our faith and planting seeds of hope that birth dreams. These steps are how we make it happen.
What is your next step, sweet friend?
A little music for the journey…
We all have A LOT of stuff going on in ourselves and lining the shelves of the closet of our lives, but through a desire for a more intentional actions and reactions, God can use our “stuff” for good.
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