My husband and I just got a puppy.
Joke's on us. You know what I'm talking about if you've ever had a puppy. A puppy is pretty much a newborn that pees on the floor and eats your shoes and attacks your feet while you're walking across the kitchen. We've only had him for a couple of days, and I'm already realizing everything that has fallen to the wayside while I care for this rascal. The dishes, for one. The pile of laundry. My appearances this morning as I walked outside in Ugg slippers and no makeup. Although we love him, it's exhausting. And so very distracting.
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But isn't that life? So distracting and so very busy. We have so many things fighting for our attention every day—positive and fulfilling things and some negative things too. And to live a balanced life we need all of it (although, I wish I didn't need the pee on my floor).
But the trick is to recognize when there are certain things getting in the way of your relationship with God simply because you give those things too much attention. Here are nine things you are most likely putting before Him.
And if it's not your phone, it's your laptop or your iPad or tablet. Whether you're on Facebook wasting hours away scrolling through your news feed or taking and posting pictures of every desert you have, those are valuable minutes and hours that could be spent doing something else. Social media is a powerful tool to do good, but how much time are you investing, and what kind of good are you doing while on it?
Don't get mad at me! I'll explain. Kids are one of the biggest priorities of our lives and because of them we have so much joy and love in our households. But how many times have you gone through a day with playdough in your hair and spit-up on your shirt, and you realize you haven't done a single thing all day other than take care of kids? Start giving yourself at least five minutes each day to sit down to read scriptures or pray or have some alone time to sit and ponder and write in your journal. It might have to be after your spouse gets home or after bedtime, but God needs your time too, and he'll make you an even better parent.
In some ways, it does make the world go round. Without it, life gets pretty hard. But I've seen people walk away from God once they strike it rich and can afford the hot new car and the penthouse suite. I've seen the love of money destroy marriages, and I've seen workaholics devote every second to their growing business until they get addicted to the cash flow and never look back. Don't put the cash ahead of what matters. You can't take it with you.
There are lots of jobs and responsibilities within church congregations, and each one matters and keeps the wheels moving. But when those responsibilities cloud the very reason you're there or the very meaning behind why you're doing those tasks, the jobs themselves become a priority rather than Who you're doing them for.
This one can be easy to put before God if you're not careful, especially while you're young. You date, fall in love and plan a wedding; and life just rolls busily along. Even well after you're married, you have to choose together to put God first.
Fantasy football, video games, crafts, photography and … shall I go on? You have talents and interests, and they deserve plenty of your attention. But there's a balance in all things. How much time are you giving those hobbies? Do you thank God for those talents?
We all deserve a little R&R, especially after a long workday or day with the kiddos. But something to remember is we always have time for the things we prioritize. Think of your favorite things. Even in your busy life, you make time for them, right? Devote more of that time to service for others or reading your Bible or sending a prayer of thanks Heavenward.
I'm a huge advocate for higher education. But, for a lot of students, hitting the books can mean no time for anything else. The degree, the tests and the jam-packed classes and notebooks filled to overflowing is EVERYTHING that matters. Those things do matter, but nurturing your relationship with God each day matters too.
We fight addictions, or we watch a loved one battle a disease, or we work two jobs to keep food on the table, and during the battle we focus so very intently on the fire that we can't see through the flames. Sometimes we get so focused on our problems we forget to take them to the problem solver. God is there. He wants to help. He doesn't want us to forget Him when life gets hard.
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We all have things to work on and things we are putting before God every day despite our best efforts. The only thing we can do is recognize when we are placing anything before Him, work on changing and retrain ourselves to see past all the distractions. Just as a good woman I knew as a kid used to say, "What are you doing in this moment? This moment is your life," we have to remember it's what we do in day-to-day moments that makes up who we are.