Here we are…September 12th…and this is now my FOURTH attempt (yes–I said 4th) at writing and completing a a blog post. Initially…I had writers block but as the months have continually sped by I can’t blame my lack of blogging on my writers block. I can’t blame it on my new job. I can’t even blame it on being really busy. I have to admit that somewhere in the midst of my blessings and just-plain being in my feelings I lost focus.
WHY OH WHY is it so easy for us to lose focus in this thing that we call life?!
When I thought about what I would title this post in particular I wanted the name to be catchy. I thought of using a line from one of the poems that most Greeks are familiar with (See It Through) but I knew that this post would not describe a time in which I overcame losing focus. In fact…I’m currently battling with regaining focus in my life as we speak but I know that faith without works is dead and therefore, I must encourage myself to keep going forward while encouraging all of my sisters to do the same. Whoever said that you have to”have it all together” before encouraging others must have been preaching from their own self-righteousness because truth be told…we’ll never have it all together. God uses us right where we are and heals our land (even our inner man) when we humble ourselves, pray, and obey what He’s commanded us to do (2 Chronicles 7:14). As a matter of fact, losing focus is an implication of disobedience and when we disobey God we put ourselves in danger of delaying or even forfeiting our destiny. The Holy Spirit reminded me of a woman in the Bible who lost focus and OH what a price she paid because of her disobedience. I want us to reflect on the life of the ultimate Salt Queen–Lot’s Wife...
Her name was never mentioned. The very mention of her existence occurred only twice but we find the story of our sister, “Lot’s Wife“ in Genesis 19. To make a long story short, Lot was Abraham’s nephew. Him, his Wife, and two daughters lived in the city of Sodom, which it, along with the city of Gomorrah were deemed as evil and corrupt cities according to God. These cities were so filled with sinful, disobedient, pleasure-seeking people that God planned to destroy the cities. Abraham was aware of God’s plans and petitioned Him on behalf of his family members. His request was if God could find 50, or 45, or 40, or 30, 20, or even 10 righteous people in the cities that He would spare them from destruction. God agreed but He couldn’t even find 10 righteous people. Instead, He decided to spare the only righteous man that He could find in Sodom along with his family; and that was the family of Lot. The Lord sent 2 angels to Sodom to deliver Lot and his family from the destruction that was to come and to give him very specific instructions on how his family would be saved. In verse 17, the angel commands, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” Even though God created a way of escape for them they lingered in the city much longer than they should have. The angels would soon have to force them to leave or else they too would have been destroyed. As they escaped, the Lord caused it to rain sulfur and fire from Heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. God wanted to shield Lot’s family from the destruction. He didn’t want them to be consumed by what was going on behind them but no sooner had they fled for their lives, Lot’s Wife did the very thing that they were instructed not to do…she looked back. As a result of her disobedience she was turned into a pillar of salt. Her protector; her husband was ahead of her leading the way. Their promised land of freedom from destruction was ahead of her but she couldn’t let go of what was behind her. She couldn’t let go of her past. She couldn’t avoid falling into the trap of her distractions and it led her to destruction. As a result of losing focus on what lied ahead of her…her end-goal…her greater purpose of being a Wife and mother to her daughters she lost her life.
How many of us continually lose focus of the goal ahead? How many of us are so attracted to our distractions that we allow them to have victory over us? How many of us can’t let go of our toxic past and therefore miss out on a beautiful, fruitful future? How many of us reject God’s warning signals and arms of protection because we don’t trust Him? Y’all…I’ve been in church my entire life and I remember hearing people question why Lot’s Wife had been so stupid. When I was younger I even posed the same question but now that I see the people in the Bible as forefathers and mothers instead of fictional characters I see myself in them. At some point in our lives we’ve all been like Sister Lot’s Wife. We all have taken our eyes off of God at some point and began drowning in our distractions. When we do this it pushes us farther and farther away from God and closer to the schemes of the enemy and that’s when he has us. When we lose focus on what matters most we begin to focus on our emotions; the things that feel good and the things that don’t feel good to our flesh instead of walking, talking, thinking, and moving in the spirit.
Unfortunately this has been my story for the last few months or so. Summers are always very different for me. As an educator, I’m always soooo busy during the year. I don’t have the time (or take the time) to focus on myself as much as I should…I tend to run on autopilot. The summer is usually my time to relax and regroup before the start of a new year. It’s a time for me to be reflective and handle things that I don’t have time to handle during the school year but it is also the time when I am under attack the most. Because I have a lot of free time the enemy plays with my mind and I’ve allowed him to for way too long. Anything from having limited summer income to dealing with my feelings about various things…he really tries it with me. That triflin bum is always up to something smh. A few months back I blogged about being Almost 28…Completely Single…and CONTENT (check it out!) and during that time I really was. I was in a really good place with God and growing spiritually at a rate that I hadn’t in years. I was focused…my eyes were set straight ahead on the Lord…but this summer…I blinked just a little too long. For years I’ve dreamed of starting my own nonprofit. I have notes formulating my plans as far back as 2012 and this summer I took a leap of faith and just did it. God graced me to be able to incorporate my nonprofit, receive 501(c)(3) status, and have a little money in my business account without having to come out of pocket for much. I mean I only spent $60 y’all! I was SUPER excited and doing all of my paperwork kept me pretty busy. As a means for raising money and pubbing for my new venture I spent a great deal of time on social media and that’s when the devil started working. As soon as the dust settled from my own excitement, my timeline was FLOODED with pictures of proposals, weddings, and baby showers. All pun intended…I’m NOT a Salt Queen. I’m genuinely happy for people when they experience monumental moments in their lives but at that moment I was sadly reminded that in the midst of all of the wonderful things that were happening to me I didn’t have anyone to share them with. I mean yeah…my family and friends are awesome and supportive but most of them have their own lives and their own families. They’re building joint empires…something that I also desire but haven’t had the opportunity to experience. I was reminded that I’m coming upon year 6 in my singleness without a prospect in sight and that made me very sad. I allowed the enemy to redirect my focus. I allowed him to make me forget that God allowed me to see 28 beautiful years of life, have more sustainability than I’ve ever had, and practically expedited a business process that should have taken a year or so. God did it for me in 2 months. I fell prey to ungratefulness and I allowed that ungrateful, “woe -is-me” spirit to assault my joy and I’ve been struggling with this ever since. My sisters, when we choose to pay attention to what’s going on around us instead of what God is doing for us we ultimately forfeit our peace in Him. We’re essentially telling Him, “I know You’ve done all of these wonderful things for me but it’s not enough Lord. I want it this way.” “I know You’ve never failed me but I don’t trust You with this area of my life because You’re taking too long.” “You’re not enough for me. I desire human interaction…food…me-time…cars…money…clothes…a house MORE than I desire You.“ That sounds HORRIBLE doesn’t it? Imagine how often we hurt God with the way our actions speak. How would you feel if you were in a relationship with someone who was constantly searching for affection from everyone else EXCEPT you? I’ve been in several relationships like that and it doesn’t feel good at all.
We must learn to put our spiritual blinders on. I love the way that Heather Lindsey interprets Proverbs 4:25-27. She says, “…do not look to the right or to the left but straight ahead to God’s Word.” When we are spending time in the Word, spending time with the Lord, and paying special attention to our assignments we don’t have time to focus on anything else. But when we fail to do those things we become discontent. Consider the way our vision works. We have central vision and peripheral vision. Central vision is what we use the majority of the time to see. It is our focused vision. But peripheral vision is what we use to see things out of the corner of our eyes. You can see objects moving through peripheral vision but it’s not until we use our central vision that we are able to make out exactly what the object is. If you’re driving, using your central vision is imperative but the minute that you take your eyes off of the road to look at something that was once in your peripheral vision you just might find yourself crashing into the back or side of someone’s car. Nothing is more important than the road ahead when you’re driving. It doesn’t matter if the Lexus RX 350 that you’ve been wanting is speeding by (shameless plug lol), it doesn’t matter if someone else has gotten into an accident on the side of the road, it doesn’t matter if you have a call or text message coming through; the minute that you take your eyes off of the road and focus on what’s going on around you you are going to crash. It’s the same with us. The minute that our distractions become our main focus our lives begin to crash and burn…or in the case of Sister Lot…we turn into Salt Queens. So how do we do it? How do we get back on track and stop allowing our distractions to deter us from the journey ahead?
- Identify Your Distractions– I believe that we can all agree on the fact that our distractions can be addictive. The first step in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs is admitting that you have a problem and the same is true for freeing yourself from your own distractions. You have to admit to and know what entraps you in order to devise your plan of escape. In the counseling world we talk about steering clear of “Playgrounds” (where you often make your mistakes, “Playmates” (who you make mistakes with), and “Play toys” (what your drug of choice is). For example, if you no longer desire to smoke then it is wise to stay away from the houses of your friends that smoke, your friends who smoke and are not supportive of your decision to quit, and to stay completely away from whatever it is that you like to smoke. When you fail to do these things you put yourself in a position where you’ll be distracted from your end-goal. For me…I know that I need to start spending less time on social media until I can return to the place where I am 100% content with my singleness again. That’s not to say that I can’t check my Facebook account throughout the week or that I’m going to melt into a ball of emotions anytime my friends get engaged and post pictures but the more leisure time that I spend scrolling away, the more the enemy is going to magnify my current struggle. This is a time for me to be more focused on the Word while scrolling through my Bible app. I need that a lot more than what any of my social media apps have to offer me because it’s in the Word that I find strength, rest in God’s Plan for my life, and peace of mind. Jeremiah 29:11 speaks on the fact that God’s plan for my life and thoughts concerning me are good but in order for me to access what He has I must set my natural and spiritual eyes on Him as we are instructed to do in Colossians 3:1-2. I have to remember that because the enemy knows that God has a plan for me that he is constantly devising plans to keep me from having what belongs to me. In 1 Peter 5:8 the Bible tells us that he walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. HE WANTS TO DEVOUR US! He knows that we have the power to defeat him but if he can convince us that we’re powerless by using what distracts us then he can steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). But when we learn how to have victory over our distractions by seeking FIRST the things that are of the Kingdom of Heaven and focusing on what God has called us to do right now in our current seasons then He promises to add ALL things to us (Matthew 6:33). Remember that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it“ (1 Corinthians 10:13). Escape my sister…don’t look back!
- Cut Off Anything that Fuels Your Distractions– This one is pretty self-explanatory and I covered a great deal of it in the last point but what I want to focus on the most is more than being aware of what distracts you…more than staying away from things that distract you…but actually breaking the pattern altogether. What price are you willing to pay to be free? Yes–this is easier said than done because sometimes what distracts you is someone who you love. Sometimes it’s something that you’ve been accustomed to doing for years and years. Sometimes cutting it off will cause you to face your greatest fear of being alone or being without something that you think you need. In Matthew 5:30 we are introduced to the thought of “cutting off your right hand if it causes you to sin so that you won’t send your entire body to Hell.” In other words, we must permanently let go of things that will contaminate us so that we won’t miss out on Heaven. What kinds of “right hands” do you have in your life? Is it sex? Your boyfriend? That gossiping friend? Being petty? Overeating? Whatever your right hand is I encourage you to start cutting before it’s too late. Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to “…lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” so that we may, “…run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Distractions and their aftermath can cause detours in our journey and that keeps us from reaching our ultimate goal which is Heaven. We must learn how to die to our flesh and do the things that don’t feel so good so that we can continue growing. For me, I know that I need to fast more often (for natural and spiritual purposes lol). During those times of sacrifice I am able to think more clearly because I have no choice but to focus more on God. Constantly starving your flesh for spiritual gain helps you to gain control over other appetites in your life that throw you off course.
- Count Your Blessings– This one is definitely for me smh! I get so distracted by what I don’t have yet and complain so much about why I don’t have it (mostly to myself and to God) that I sometimes forget the magnitude of the blessings that I do have. In order to conquer this, it takes a total mind transformation according to Romans 12:2. You have to literally train your brain to think a new way and focus on the positive while rejecting negativity. 2 Corinthians 10:5 encourages us to destroy every contradicting argument, opinion, and thought that is contrary to what we know to be true about God and make it subject to God. In other words…when we feel down about what we don’t have we must find a scripture or a thought about the goodness of God to combat that negative feeling because negativity is of the devil and even he must obey God. We must learn how to hold on to what we know to be true regardless of what our emotions and circumstances tell us to believe. Because we have been raised with Christ we are no longer citizens of this world and therefore reality does not control us…our faith must do that. Faith if foresight…we have to see it before we actually see it. We have to get fed up with the devil walking all over us and exercise our God-given authority. Make yourself pay more attention to your blessings than what you lack and soon you won’t be distracted by what you lack. You’ll begin to see that you have everything that you need. You’ll be more about your Father’s business and as He promised He will give you the desires of your heart. He has to make sure that you’re faithful over a “few things” before He gives you more (Matthew 25:23) because if He didn’t, you might become so distracted by your added blessings that you’d forget all about God. It’s easy to say that you wouldn’t but for most of us…especially if you tend to fixate on things like I do…it’s easy to focus on the wrong things even in a good situation. Search yourself, continue being thankful for what you already have, and work even harder to reject focusing on the wrong things.
I that pray this post was thought provoking for you and that you were able to see some areas in your life where you may have allowed distractions to get you off track. I said this before but y’all…I’m honestly preaching to myself on this one. I’m tired of losing this battle over and over again…I want what God has for me and cannot allow the enemy to continue stealing my joy and my focus. It’s time to get prepared for war and fight back! I ask that you pray for me and I will remember to pray for you all as well. This is what sisterhood within the Body of Christ is all about–lifting each other up when one of us falls short. Come what may… I’m going to keep pressing forward. We WILL conquer this together Sis! I believe in us and the God within us…we CANNOT fail (Psalm 46:5)!