Aaron lay on the floor outside the classroom door, his face to the ceiling. All the other students had entered the room and were following the morning routines. Aaron had arrived seeking attention disguised as defiance.
I’d been around this block a time or two.
“Hey, Aaron!” Expecting a reprimand or an order, he was surprised by my next words. “Get up and tell me what you did yesterday when your dad picked you up from school.”
Aaron’s dad doesn’t pick him up every day, so when he does, it’s special.
The little boy forgot his defiant act, and his face brightened with a grin.
“We played Candyland!” he said, getting up and allowing me to help him slip off his shoes.
“Is that a game on the iPad or a board game?” I asked, effortlessly guiding him through the classroom door.
“It’s a board game!”
I close the door behind him, happy to have all my little chicks inside the coop. A battle of wills would have set a much different tone for the day.
The power of distraction can be an effective strategy in the Kindergarten classroom and beneficial in our own lives, too.
Sometimes we live in challenging circumstances that hold us in their grasp and threaten to choke us. We can’t see past our bubble of pain, and dark thoughts hold us captive. A distraction may not change our circumstances, but it could help us rediscover the joy of the Lord. In a secular sense, even continuing to go to work can give us something new to focus on.
Do you know the best way to redirect your attention away from your own plight? Serve others. Ask a church leader if they could use some help behind the scenes in one of their programs. Serve in a soup kitchen or food bank. Look for ways to improve someone else’s day, and it will likely brighten yours at the same time.
When God invites you to hand over your worries to Him, He doesn’t mean for you to continue focusing on the darkness. While that is a very understandable and human thing to do, it communicates a lack of trust that God’s got you covered.
My good friend Carolyn Cheer wrote a book called Do You Believe I Am God or Not? Anchoring our Hope in God’s Promises. (Check it out on Amazon!) While the question calls us out, the subtitle gives us the answer we need to have confidence in our heavenly Father. If we truly believe in a mighty God who created the universe and shows His love to humanity by saving, healing, and guiding us, it’s not a big stretch to think that He cares about our situation. We can anchor our hope in His promises.
In John 16:33, Jesus said to His disciples (and to us):
Jesus has overcome the world. God the Father reigns. He’s got you.
Of course, distraction can sidetrack us sometimes, too. In school, my students can be distracted during our whole group learning times by their peers, a toy, a stomach ache, or a daydream.
You may not have a strenuous situation that occupies your thoughts today. You may be on the other side of the fence where distraction prevents you from having a close relationship with God. Read the following list with your full attention, and note the things that might get too much of your focus.
Distractions might include:
Without expanding on this list, I think you can see how the pursuit of any of these things can easily shift your focus off God’s will for your life as your priorities shift. In moderation, none of these things are sinful. But when one replaces God as a priority, you move into dangerous territory.
When He made the commandment about not having other gods, the big G God wasn’t necessarily talking about statues or mythical beings. He more likely referred to anything that replaces Him in our lives. What is your go-to after a hard day? Who do you speak to when you have a decision to make? Where do you go first to share good news?
The lyrics of a song we used to sing in Sunday School were an acronym for “joy.” The simple statements are also a perfect summary of the Bible and the Gospel:
J-O-Y This is what it means: Jesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between.
We need constant reminders because our natural inclination is to focus on ourselves with our emotions and desire for comfort. Doesn’t joy sound like a great distraction, though?!
Do you need more distraction in your life by serving others or less distraction by leaning closer to God?
Either way, these verses are a great life principle. What will be your first step toward JOY?
Father, forgive me for often putting other things before my relationship with you. I’m setting you back up as my Number One Priority. When I go through hardships that give me tunnel vision, help me to get out there and help others so your light still shines through me and I experience your joy despite my circumstances. Thank You for the opportunity to choose JOY when I need comfort. Thank You for loving me with such a big love! Amen
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