Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When You Need to Shut Out the Noise

Our world screams for attention. In the age of Internet on cell phones, Facebook and Instagram, viral videos and more, we're surrounded by voices. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone tries to scream loud enough to be heard. It's overwhelming. Trying to listen to everything makes my head spin and leaves me feeling overwhelmed.

The sad fact is that most of what we hear isn't truth. We hear opinions. We hear twisted versions of what people call truth - but in reality it's their attempt to twist reality to meet their lifestyle. We hear a lot of outright lies. How do we focus on God when all this is happening?

Sometimes we need to shut it all out.

It's easy to forget what's really important in this noisy world. There is only one voice and one opinion that matters: God's. But how do we keep our focus on Him?

1. Start your day with God.

If I don't carve out time with God each morning, I can almost guarantee that my day will be rocky. I need time each morning to drink my coffee, read my Bible, pray, and focus my mind on the One in charge in my life. I write out what I'm thankful for, study the scripture I'm memorizing, do my Bible study (currently I'm using She Reads Truth studies), and pray. It usually takes 30 minutes or so. Do I have to get up earlier? Yes. Does it take some extra effort? Yes. But it's completely worth it because it helps keep my mind focused throughout the day.

2. Limit social media.

I'm not talking about leaving social media. I know people who have done this, and they felt it was the right thing to do. But I don't think that's the answer. There are great things on social media! I'm part of Bible study groups, accountably groups, and even a Scripture memorization group. We need to connect with others, and the online world offers a great way to do it. What I suggest instead: Limit what you see on social media.

Do you have friends who post inflammatory things on Facebook? Hide their posts from your news feed.
Are you part of a group that seems to lean toward the negative? Drop out. (I did this recently, leaving a "professional" group that acted anything but professional.)
Do you need to clean up your list of who you follow on Twitter or Instagram? Unfollow people whose posts drag you down.

Take charge of what you see. If you need to find more inspiration, follow Hello Mornings, She Reads Truth, A Holy Experience and Hide His Word, just to name a few.

3. Choose your words.

It's hard not to argue back when people shower a website or post with negativity. But in most cases, their mind is made up, and your rebuttal isn't going to change anything. In many cases, their entire goal is to start a fight. Don't give them the fuel, and don't get into an argument that will only raise your stress levels and keep you upset. I know it's hard to stay quiet, but leave your positive feedback, and let your words shine a light into the darkness.

4. Unplug

I'll admit, I'm preaching to myself here. I spend far too much time attached to my cell phone and iPad. It's a habit I'm working to break.

Sometimes we need to just unplug from the world. Every photo doesn't have to be Instagramed. You don't have to post every cute thing your child says to Facebook. Your latest email probably doesn't need your attention this very second. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just step away from the connectedness and just live our lives.

What are your greatest struggles when it comes to staying focused on God? What helps you shut out distractions?

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