The second treadmill from the left was the only one open. I jumped on it before anyone else had the chance. It was the perfect spot, too – because I could only be distracted by 6 of the 12 large screen televisions, each playing a different channel. Several choices for the next hour’s entertainment were in front of me.
But I had already chosen what I was going to spend my hour listening to.
With my earphones in, I tuned into the latest sermon of the day. I listened to the preacher as he began teaching on Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Somewhere about 3 minutes into the sermon, I found my eyes glued to the television screen where repeated images were being shown of the most recent terror attack in Bangladesh. On the television next to that one were the latest developments in the second most recent terror attack – two days ago in the Istanbul, Turkey airport. The television next to that one was playing music videos with dancers showing more skin than I cared to look at. On the next television, a political argument was going on. I found myself wandering my glances from TV to TV, and before I knew it 45 minutes of the sermon had passed and I had probably only barely tasted five minutes of it.
Wow! What a picture of LIFE and its distractions! Right?!
Nothing that my eyes had wandered to had been even remotely close to being pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. None of it.
I kind of laughed at myself, removed my earphones, finished my walk, and left the gym. The sermon? I’ll re-listen to it after this blog is finished.
The past few months I have been purposefully trying to “listen more, talk less.” (This is also the reason for my writing “hiatus.”)
I have eliminated distractions (sometimes in the form of just having to say no to engagements, without feeling unnecessarily guilty). I have rearranged my calendar to go for walks with people I long to see, rather than sit and share another restaurant meal. I have learned how to just say no, instead of bitterly trying to squeeze engagements in between my already busy schedule. I have begun eating my lunch at work and then going for a peaceful walk outside. I have eliminated all television and cable from my home, and have made a conscious effort to be choosy who and what I listen to. That has been the most difficult.
Purposefully, I have prayed to concentrate on pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and things worthy of praise. And oh, how the devil has LOVED distracting me from such things…… Sometimes he uses televisions, like today, and other times he uses people and relationships.
I am unsure I could have concentrated on that sermon or that scripture verse any better had I gone to the park I love to walk at. Though there are no televisions to distract me there – it is July in Michigan, and that means I would have been concentrating on dodging the swarms of fish flies currently at the beach these days – in record numbers!
But it doesn’t matter where I go. There are potential distractions everywhere. Concentrating on pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent things worthy of praise is difficult. I am still reminding myself of the importance of it, and I am still eliminating those things that distract me from it, and incorporating those things in that help me to think pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praise worthy thoughts!
So, what about you? What’s distracting you? Your calendar? Demanding relationships? Toxic ones? Do you have trouble using your “no muscle?”
Are your relationships suffering because you say “no” when you should say “yes,” and “yes” when you ought to say no?
(These questions are for me too!)
It’s a beautiful evening here. Blue skies and a cool breeze. And, it’s been a very sweet, relaxing, peaceful day. Shall I end it with a walk among the fish fly swarms? Or an ice cream cone down at the corner?
Hmmmmm I think I’ll say NO to the fish flies, and YES to the ice cream!