Recently I saw a cartoon featuring a woman who said she suffered from ADHD: Attention Deficit House-Cleaning Disorder. She'd start cleaning in one room and find so many little messes leading into other rooms that she would move around the house cleaning for hours with nothing to show for it! I had to laugh pretty hard as that pretty much describes life in the Lamb household: moving from one mess to the next without time to finish what you started. And it is only going to get worse!
House-cleaning is not the only are where I suffer from this disorder. To quote one preacher, at times being a pastor seems to be all about being“a quivering mass of availability”. We spin ourselves in circles with meetings, schedules, phone calls, texts and emails. When a crisis does come, it can often seem overwhelming because of all the energy that has been spent in anxious activity. There is nothing to show for all the work that has been done and there is not much left in the tank to deal with the real problems.
One of the ways I am trying to combat this tendency is by trying to be more mindful about what I am doing each day. I realize that I spend a majority of my day running from one thing to the next or even trying to do two things at once. But why? I don't pull out my laptop and start emailing someone in the middle of a church service. That time is completely dedicated to worship. I don't make phone calls in the middle of a home visit. That would be rude not to mention that it would defeat the entire purpose of a face to face visit. Why, then, do I answer text messages when I working on a sermon? How is it that I let my mind wander to the Sunday service while I am reading a book? I won't even pretend that this is multitasking. I am too eager to give into distractions. That is why I see the need to slow down and be mindful of what is right in front of me.
Being 'mindful' means recognizing the sacredness of each moment and each task we have in our day. Sure, working on the announcement page for the bulletin can be a distraction from more important things. Or it can be seen as a somewhat restful task that brings satisfaction up its completion. Either way, it is something that has to be done for the good of God's people. Viewing it as one item on an extensive list makes this task appear as just one more random act of busyness in the day. However, by taking time to appreciate the ritual of updating the bulletin I can allow the Spirit to possess that moment so that it can be come a time where something sacred happens in my life.
There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness in everyday life as self-help gurus have been quick to point out. Mindful parenting helps parents to appreciate the moments that they spend with their children by shutting out distractions and creating abiding, interpersonal relationships. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction helps people with chronic health conditions to reduce their levels of stress and lower their reactivity to stressful situations. Even if you don't know the meditation techniques behind a particular mindfulness practice, you can work on focusing your attention as a first step toward being more mindful.
As Christians we are called to live our lives with the knowledge that God dwells within us. When we stop and focus our attention on the tasks before us to the exclusion of all our distractions, we are not attempting to clear the mind of all thought. We are trying to reconnect with the Spirit that helps us discover our calling to be stewards of the moments of our life. I don't know about you, but I would love to live the kind of life where changing a diaper is an act of service, where washing dishes is an act of love and where my undivided attention has the potential to build up those around me. For when we place our intention on the things above rather than the things below, we truly see the purposes that God has for us in our everyday lives. When practiced in faith, mindfulness can be the ultimate act of the love to ourselves and to those around us.