The Enemy of Distraction & How to Name It
Have you ever had that moment in your life where the same thing – the same message – keeps popping up over and over again?
You know, like when you see the same Bible verse five different times in one day and you just know that the Lord is revealing something to you through His Word? Or when a certain topic keeps knocking on the door of your heart and then your friend comes to you about that same topic even though she had no idea that’s what you’ve been thinking about, too?
Yeah, I’ve been having that kind of moment recently.
The word ‘distraction’ keeps popping up all over the place, as well as the concept of spiritual minimalism.
Although the concept isn’t anything new or groundbreaking, the term spiritual minimalism is something I came up with to describe the act of surrendering, or letting go of, internal and external things that weigh us down and keep us from looking more like Jesus.
So far, I’ve given an overview of what this concept is and 4 practical steps you can use to start practicing spiritual minimalism in your every day, right now life.
Today, I want to give you another step, an additional practice or practices, that you can use to narrow down what the Lord may be inviting you to let go of in this season of life.
Know Your Enemy
I received an encouraging email this week from an organization that I’m subscribed to. The email talked about – you guessed it – distractions, and even quoted John 30:30, which I just so happened to quote in my last blog post regarding spiritual minimalism which says, “He must become greater, I must become less.” (NIV)
They wrote about the seasons changing, summer slowly fading into fall, and at the end of the email, they invited us, readers, to pay close attention to the changes that are happening both in nature and within ourselves, and posed the question,
“What can you let go of to make more room for Christ in your life?”
Sometimes, it can be hard to pinpoint distractions and discern what it is we need to let go of or what it is we need to make more room for. Author and blogger, Joshua Becker, who just so happens to be the human that’s inspired my minimalist journey, in his book, Things That Matter, says “The enemy of intentionality and a life well lived is distraction. Know your enemy.”
In my last blog post, I shared 4 practical steps on how to pinpoint what area of your life you want to practice spiritual minimalism in and then how to execute it.
But the question that I want to unpack today is, how exactly do we pinpoint what’s distracting us from living a meaningful and intentional life?
Because once we name our distractions, once we know our enemy as Joshua Becker says, then we can begin to remove whatever that distraction is and walk freely toward what we value most and the kind of life God is calling us to live now.
How to Name Our Distractions
For each of us, that invitation and calling might look a little different, and we all have different distractions that need to be named. Here’s a list of common distractions that keep us from growing and pursuing the meaningful life that Jesus invites us into:
- Past regrets or wounds
- Imposter syndrome (insecurities)
- The opinions of others
- Toxic relationships
- Substances and material items like alcohol, clothes, money, etc.
- Technology like social media
Before we go any further, I want to make it very clear that I’m a beginner on this journey of spiritual minimalism and living with a more minimalistic mindset. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and what I share with you within these blog posts is just an outpouring of what I’m learning, wrestling with, and questioning.
So thanks for being here and allowing me to unravel this journey with you.
With that being said, it’s been really helpful for me lately to call out my distractions by doing these two things:
- Naming the season of life I’m in
- Making a list
I believe that naming our distractions helps us discern what the Lord is calling us to cultivate and tend to in each season of our lives. It helps us behold Him more clearly and births contentment and joy where worry and anxiety once lived.
Naming The Season of Life You’re In
So let’s begin the process of calling out our distractions by first naming the season of life we’re in.
Now, I didn’t come up with this concept on my own and first read about it on writer, Lauren Carrizal’s, blog. She did an entire blog series about stewarding well the season of life you’re in (which, side note, I would highly encourage you to check out and I’ll link here for you to read), and how stewarding it well begins with naming the season you’re in.
Lauren says, “Being able to name our current season empowers us to live it more fully and presently. When we understand where we are, we can become a more active participant in our own life. Instead of going through the motions, we instead can show up, eager to experience what God has for us.”
Naming our current season brings a sense of clarity and calm as we face the reality of where our hearts truly are. John 8:32 says, “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (ESV)
Seeing the true condition of our souls and our lives rather than choosing to remain comfortable in our own ignorant bliss by ignoring the reality of our situation is going to free us from the illusions that keep us from real, lasting, and transformative growth.
I’ll share with you the season of life I’m in and maybe it will spark something within you that will help uncover what season you’re currently walking through.
Right now, I’m in a season of resting. I’m in a season of taking a step back, letting go of control, and choosing to surrender. Surrendering my marriage, my creativity, my dreams, and my longings and placing them in the hands of Jesus and trusting that He will bring to fruition what is meant to be.
I’m in a season of learning to listen rather than speaking and telling others what to do. I’m in a season of silence – not passive silence – but active, expectant silence. I am being invited to rest, wait, and enjoy where the Lord has me right now as I listen and follow His lead.
When we take the time to sit down with the Lord, look at our life, and name the season we’re in, it becomes easier to pinpoint what is needed in this season and what is an unwanted distraction.
How to Name Your Season of Life
If you’re having a hard time naming the season of life you’re in, it’s helpful to start with prayer and reflection. Quiet your mind in God’s presence and ask Him to help you put words to the season of life you find yourself in.
In her blog posts, Lauren states that it can be helpful to utilize the practice of reflection to help name the season that you’re in, and I’ve found this to be true in my own life.
Start by journaling or contemplating prayerfully one or more of the following reflection questions:
- What feelings or emotions do you notice rising to the surface regularly?
- What feels new or different in this season?
- What feels the same or familiar?
- If you could describe this season of your life in one word, what would it be? Write it down and then explain why you chose that word. You might be surprised what comes up the more you write about it.
The spiritual practice of naming gives us information, and that includes naming the season of life we’re in. Emily P. Freeman poses this question in episode 6 of The Next Right Thing Podcast, “What would it look like to let ourselves be gatherers of information when it comes to what’s happening within us, beneath the surface?”
We must first gather the courage and the humility to sift through what lies beneath the surface of our souls if we are going to grow in our relationship with the Divine. Our spiritual lives hinge on our ability to name what we need from God, ourselves, and at times, people.
Naming our current season of life acts as an arrow that points to what may be distracting us from what the Lord is inviting us to cultivate and focus on in our current season of life.
Make a Life-Giving & Life-Draining List
The second practice that I’ve found incredibly helpful in pinpointing unwanted distractions and baggage in my life is making a list.
Not just any list, but what Author, Emily P. Freeman, calls a “life-giving and life-draining” list. Again, I’m introducing you to a practice that I did not invent, but one that has been really helpful in my own spiritual journey.
I own Emily’s The Next Right Thing Journal, where she invites us to record and reflect on lots of things that are happening in our lives throughout a single month. One of those things she invites us to notice is what brings us life and what drains the life from us.
The concept is simple yet powerful! Throughout the next few weeks, notice and write down in your journal anything that feels life-giving. Did brunch with your girlfriends bring you life? Did spending time alone reading a good book rejuvenate you? Did moving your body during a workout relieve stress?
Anything that brings you joy and gives your soul a sense of wholeness, write it down.
On the flip side of that, also notice and write down what drains you. Did an argument with your spouse leave you feeling empty? Does working out this week feel exhausting? Is your job frustrating you?
Anything that sucks a little bit of life from your soul and leaves you empty and unfulfilled, write it down.
At the end of the week, or month, however long you decide to keep this list (although I recommend making it a regular practice), read over your list. Do you see any repeats? Does something keep popping up, whether it’s good or bad?
Making a life-giving and life-draining list is a really clear way to call out what might be a distraction in this season of your life, and what your soul is needing more of.
Distractions & Spiritual Minimalism
Distractions and spiritual minimalism go hand in hand because what distracts us keeps us from living fully into where God is leading us. Distractions are the excess baggage that no one is asking us to carry, but that we insist on keeping close.
Sometimes that’s because what distracts us feels familiar. If fear or shame is all we’ve ever known, then of course the thought of surrendering that is going to feel scary. If living a life chasing a money trail is what we’ve always thought would make us happy, it can be a little eerie to let that mindset go.
Trusting the Lord is ultimately the invitation here. Trusting that whatever He has to give in place of the distraction He’s asking us to surrender is going to be so much better than we could’ve ever imagined.
Will the process of surrender be hard and painful? Maybe. But letting go of what weighs us down is so worth the temporary pain and struggle, friend.
Shedding our distractions propels us forward into the life that Jesus is inviting us into. I’m not sure what that kind of life looks like for you because the invitation is going to be different for all of us. But I do know that it’s God’s will for you to grow and bear fruit and live life abundantly.
John 10:10 says so, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV)
And again in John 15:8, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (ESV)
The word abundant means existing or available in large quantities; plentiful, overflowing, huge, great, and bountiful.
Abundant doesn’t mean without pain, heartache, or trouble. But it is a promise that your life will be full to overflowing as long as you are abiding in Jesus. It’s a promise that in Him, you have all that you need to face this troubled world, and so much more.
More peace, joy, love, meaning, and purpose, to name a few.
A huge part of living with a spiritually minimalistic mindset is calling out what needs to go in our lives and souls – what distracts us from living into our God-given purpose in each season – so that we can live full and abundant lives.