If you wrestle with unwanted sexual behaviors and want to uncover why, here is one place you may not have thought to look: Your distractions.
Do you keep yourself busy at work or home? Do you always have music playing? Do you turn to your screen whenever you have to wait? Or do you serve as a helper for everyone else in your life?
While none of these are bad in and of themselves, they can all serve as a form of distraction–turning your focus from something of greater importance to something of lesser importance. The ultimate form of this is idolatry, when we turn our attention from God, the Creator of all, to the creation, occupying our senses with that which is made and ignoring the Maker (see Romans 1:21-25).
But we can also turn to distractions as a way to avoid more difficult issues needing our attention. For example, if you have been harboring unconfessed sin, you may find yourself drawn to distractions as a subconscious way of avoiding the truth. This can also happen when we experience an emotional trigger from a wound or unmet need from our pasts.
Are you Distracted?
When we turn to distractions rather than facing these deeper concerns, we may feel better momentarily, but the deeper matters will not go away. Eventually, those untended places in your life will increase in volume and you will have one of two choices: turn and face them OR increase the volume of your distractions: in other words, turning to a distraction that is more powerful, like sexual sin.
When we find ourselves distracted regularly we should take note. Jesus does not call us to sit quietly with him because he is a killjoy. It’s not that he doesn’t like your work or that he doesn’t want you listening to music, for example. But he does not want them to distract you from your own heart’s cries-–whether your heart is crying out for him, for healing from an old wound, or for something else.
Consider this passage in Luke 10:41-42 NLT. Martha was busy in the kitchen while Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus while he taught. Martha complained to Jesus that it was unfair that Mary wasn’t helping. Listen to Jesus’ reply:
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Martha was distracted from Jesus by her anxiety over feeding her guests. Was she wrong, wasn’t that her responsibility? Wasn’t that a reasonable request? Yes, but it wasn’t the most important thing. Martha thought she was doing the right thing by serving everyone, but Jesus pointed out to her that her values were disordered. Her anxiety over doing everything right and serving as the perfect host was not as important as her need–her heart’s cry–for him.
In our ever busy 21st century lifestyle, it is all the more important that we ask ourselves, in what ways am I being distracted? And what does our heart truly long for?
Lent invites us to repentance, beginning with repentance from the many ways we are distracted from God’s presence by prioritizing other things.
Fasting from things that occupy our hearts, minds, and schedules is one way to create space to sit at the feet of Jesus. It is in the presence of God that we find healing, peace and rest. The very things we look to our distractions to provide.
Let us align our hearts with David the writer of Psalms 27:4. “One thing I have asked of the Lord that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”
Lord, let me always desire to be in your presence seeking after the things that truly sustain, comfort and restore me. The things that provide what my distractions cannot.