Minimalist Believer

A blog about minimalism and the Christian life

Month: June, 2013

Refocus

Sometimes we lose focus. It happens to all of us. We get distracted and lose sight of our goals. It happens.

I seem to have lost focus over the last couple of weeks — on just about everything. I have just been drifting through life doing whatever sounded good at the time. I didn’t get things accomplished. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t eat right. I did very little that actually mattered.

So how do we get out focus back?

Take Five. When you’ve lost your focus helps to stop floundering, take a step back, and regroup. For me, that means some extended journal time, a run, or some time on the yoga mat. Whatever it is, it’s a definite break from the meaningless activity that has gotten me off track. Having that time away will give an opportunity to think about what you’re doing and what you’d like to do differently.

Decide. It is essential that you know what you want to do and why. If it helps, write it down. Create a dream board. Get clear on what you want to do and the best way(s) to make that happen.

Get into the groove. I like structure. I function best when I have a rhythm to my life. For me that rhythm includes  work or study, writing, eating well and exercising. If I can get into that rhythm — instead of mindlessly floating from activity to activity — things go much more smoothly. I get more done, and getting things done decreases my anxiety level. Do you work well with a schedule? If so, make one and get into your rhythm that way.

Visual or musical cues. Several years go, I was preparing for a standardized test. One of the study books recommended that you take something or wear something in particular that you could look at to regain focus. I chose to wear a gold ring. Whenever I got distracted I would look at the ring to bring my mind back to the task at hand. These days, I put on my Janet Jackson playlist if I want to get things accomplished. It’s important to have a cue that tells you to focus.

Using these techniques I have been able to get back on track. I am getting things done and feeling good about the direction my life is heading.  How do your bring yourself back after losing focus?

People. Not Things.

As of late, this phrase has really been on my mind. Simply put: people are more important than things. People should occupy more space in our lives than things. Yet, how many of our lives reflect this?

Yes, I am about living simply, but that is only half of the story. I am also about social justice and helping people. I can help more people when I’m not out chasing stuff.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

Luke 19:10

Jesus’ priority was not the accumulation of stuff. He was more concerned with people than with stuff. In Luke 19, Luke tells the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector who had become rich by overcharging the people. Zacchaeus hides in a tree to hear Jesus’ teachings. Jesus offers to come to his house. Zacchaeus is so moved that he declares that he will give half of his possessions to the poor, and that he will repay four times all those he defrauded. Interestingly, it is after Zacchaeus shifts his thinking from wealth and stuff to people, that Jesus declares that salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house.

People were Jesus’ priority. Not things. He came to seek and save the lost — and he was not talking about lost stuff! The Son of Man came after people. That’s where his focus was.

That’s were our focus should be as well. As followers of Christ, we should have the same priorities that he had (and still has). We should be thinking more about people than we are about accumulating more money and more stuff.

Shifting our priorities is never an easy process. It takes time, and usually requires a change in behavior. How can we begin to shift our thinking?

Perhaps one way that we can begin to shift our thinking is to reflect on Jesus and his teachings. Jesus’ teachings indicate his priorities: the will of God, the Kingdom of God, the love of God, and the love of people.

Making the decision to live simply is another way to shift your thinking. Intentionally refusing to pursue more and more and more stuff frees up more time and money to help others.

When I’m out chasing stuff, or lusting after that cute little bag in the Brighton window, I am not thinking about Jesus at all. I am too busy daydreaming about how that bag would really set off my summer look. All this stuff is a distraction. It’s a distraction that we cannot afford if we are to live like Jesus.