Staying Focused in a Scattered Season

 I flip from Word back to my browser  to look up the correct spelling of the winery I’m writing about, but see my notifications lighting up on Facebook. Soon I’ve scrolled down 100 Twitter updates (how did I get on the Twitter tab anyway?) before I come back to myself and back to my work, the article due 30 minutes ago.

Come on, Kim, focus, I whisper-scold.

It’s also interview time for a multi-issue quarterly publication I work on, which is my favorite because I get to ask people about their stories all day, but it’s also unsettling. Difficult because I have five interviews scheduled across an afternoon, or three here and there during the day, and it’s the in-between times where I get lost.

My day fragmented, I divide things up into chunks and then watch each piece fall through my fingers.

Flitting from task to task, I feel like I’m barely holding on to where I’m supposed to be, checklists in my head, actual check marks on the paper, stacks of notes piling up. Nearly I every day I get up and sit right back down again, today it was because I’d just remembered what he said about emailing him for the photos and I’d better do it now before the memory flies away again.

My tasks are like this — I feel like so many of them are on the tips of my fingers, a breath away from falling into the recesses completely if I don’t curl my finger, hook and reel them in now, write it down somewhere, make a note, check a box, then I’ll have a blessed minute to attend to the kids, then finally sweep the crumb-ridden floor, then think about dinner, bedtime, baths.

I seem to have forgotten how to focus on anything.

I’m getting to the end of Barbara Brown Taylor’s ‘An Altar in the World,’ and I don’t even know what to do about practicing Sabbath. Forget focusing on work for two hours — the practice of Sabbath is focusing on self, minimizing distractions, and resting (what’s that?) for a full day. Or if you’re out of practice, doing what you can to be present. I look around to find myself and see: I’m anywhere but here.

I’m seeing how prayer is practicing being present, prayer is everything. It’s possible to pray all day just by noticing your life.

Just now, I added two interviews to my calendar for tomorrow. And so it continues.

I believe there are seasons of necessary scattering, but soon our souls will know they’re lost. Soon I realize I haven’t really seen my children all day and not because they’re not right here. Soon you’re weary of tying up the dangling threads of thought that clutter.

In that moment, give in. It’s what your soul is asking you to do anyway, and it’s not weakness. It’s strength. Rest in the midst of it, acknowledge the mess is still there, and turn on your peripheral vision.

Breathe in God, breathe out praise. In the midst of the scattered mind, bring it to focus for a moment on a pinpoint of truth: I am here. I am nowhere else.I can resist the pull of distraction. It doesn’t rule me.

Then, continue being faithful in your work, but with a new vision: Present. Imperfect, messy, but all there.


Practices of Imperfection

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3 comments on “Staying Focused in a Scattered Season

  1. Caris Adel says:

    This is beautiful,, and I completely relate. Twitter never ends!!! Now that I’m trying to be much more intentional about writing, I’m finding that I am even more busy and scattered. I can’t even imagine what I will be like once school starts up again. I have tried to get rid of sweeping the crumb-ridden floor – I’m spending the summer teaching my kids to clean the whole house, so then they can do it once school starts up for chores. But it does take so much intentionality to focus, especially when you have so much stuff to do!

  2. Donna Pyle says:

    Vulnerable. Real. Necessary. Those are just a few of the words that flashed across these tangled thoughts as I focused here … for now, in this moment, before my mind flitted off again – much like yours. One of your phrases in particular rings with truth personified: “Rest in the midst of it, acknowledge the mess is still there, and turn on your peripheral vision.” Basically, peace. We can sit among the piles of papers (or piles of checklists in our minds) and still rest. That’s what our busyness lacks, my Friend. The franticness of accomplishing in hopes we don’t forget the one thing we are afraid we might: prayer. I feel it often and have to remind myself to stop the roller coaster to kneel – whether mentally or physically. Thanks so much for your resting here and breathing peace into us as we embrace Sabbath breaks – regardless of their length. Blessings!

  3. This is exactly what I needed today. Beautiful and full of grace for my own scattered season. Thanks friend.