I’ve been noticing something about myself lately. And I don’t like what I’m seeing.
I have an attention-span problem. No, I’ve never been diagnosed ADD, but I am beginning to notice that I have trouble focusing on what’s important. My mind wanders – when I’m praying, when I’m reading Scripture, when I’m singing in church. All those times when it is important for me to give my undivided attention to a matter, I find my attention dissipated, wandering far afield, unfocused.
I’ve been thinking about why this is so. Part of it, surely, is the fast-paced, over-stimulated envrionment of our culture. I saw a headline recently that we are exposed to some 5000 ads every day. (Of course I didn’t take the time to read the article. My mind wouldn’t slow down enough to do that.)
But I cannot lay the blame solely at the feet of my environment. My own habits are at least partly (okay, probaby mostly) to blame. I have cultivated the habit of filling my personal space with sound, words in particular. I don’t like to listen to music when I’m driving. When I’m in the car, it’s sports-talk or a sermon or NPR or an audio book, something that will occupy my mind. It’s like I have a constant craving for mental stimulation.
I think I’m allergic to silence.
A disciple of Jesus is someone who is constantly about the task of bringing every aspect of life into obedience to Christ. In my case, it’s my wandering thoughts I need to bring into captivity. I think I need to learn to practice the spiritual discipline of silence.
That’s why Brian Croft’s article “Four Reasons Every Christian Needs Time in Silence” caught my attention (momentarily, at least). Although Croft writes as a pastor to pastors, everyone who is weary of the frantic pace of life needs to stop and consider what he has to say. If that’s you, click on the link and see what he has to say.
P.S. In case you’re interested, I have deleted Twitter from my phone, and I am now on a radio-fast in my car. My mind still wanders incessantly, but it’s a start…