There are more distractions around us now than have ever existed in history. But distraction doesn’t just come from negative things, like vices or addictions. Good things can also distract. Anything can overshadow our existence and take the front place, if we let it.
I think we have to learn to distinguish from goals, and means. And if the means are taking precedence over the goals, then they become distractions.
Working out is a means towards physical strength, or athletic prowess. But health and physical strength are also both means, toward what? Towards service of others. So working out has to be directed towards its ultimate goal, and seen and understood within the context if its ultimate goal. If not, pride, self-love, and self-obsession slide in all too easily, and rob it of all its merit.
This can be true of many things. Constant activity, constant busy-ness, is often seen as a goal in our modern workplace, but how often can it be a distraction from true achievement. Focused effort looks a lot less busy than busy-ness, and seems to have for that reason been given a lower place. We can hide behind our busyness, in work or in life, missing the point of the larger path of growth and self-mastery that we are called to embark upon.
Even our prayer can be seen in this light, unfortunately. Even devotions and prayers can become ends in and of themselves. Praying for the sake of praying. Saying words, and forgetting the meaning. Repeating memorized phrases while our minds wander freely. The goal of devotion is union with God. If our prayer life is not accomplishing that, it might be time for a re-evaluation.
It’s kindof crazy, but pretty much everything we do can be twisted away from our goals and our happiness, and lend to our gradual self-distancing from both. So what can be done?
Intentional living. Understanding ourselves, and our activities, within a larger context of God and His will in our lives. Forming the habit of self-awareness, awareness of what we’re doing, and more importantly, why we’re doing it. Developing that habit can help us so much, not only to achieve our goals both short and long-term, but even more to order our lives toward our God, who is love.