I've settled in at my favorite coffee shop on two different occasions to write this post. I have started writing probably more than 10 times. Chai latte at my hand and Derek Webb's Feeback in my ears. It's the perfect combination of no lyrics and upbeat driving rhythms--perfect for keeping this girl engaged and on task, but not distracted with another set of words in my head. Regardless of my seemingly ideal conditions for writing, half of my attempts failed because I had ideas that fell flat once I began typing. They began falling so flat, in fact, that I gave up and decided to try it again another day. So here I am. Round 2 with another cup of Chai and Mr. Webb serenading me once again. Round 2 has provided the second half of failed attempts due to interruptions from Facebook chat. Seriously. Every time I turned on the first track to Feedback and pulled up the blank window, I'd hear that intrusive ding. Yeah, yeah, I know. Turn it off, right? That's what I did after time number 5. I'm a slow learner. My nights aren't usually so eventful, I promise you. So here I am. Uninterrupted and without distraction...except, of course, by my delicious warm beverage on this snowy night...trying to write. All that to say, this preamble to my entry only affirms what I'm about to write.
We are flooded. Flailing, drowning even, in the amount of audio, visual, technological, emotional, and every other kind of -al stimuli you can think of. We are flooded. I have been trying to do a lot of creative planning and thinking for work since I've returned from Nicaragua and it has been grueling. I LOVE doing this kind of work, mind you. It's just been such a struggle to focus on the task at hand and stick with it. Going from a place where I didn't have my phone or computer for 2 weeks and the only things I had to read were my Bible and an extra book for fun. I didn't have a hundred tasks at hand that needed to be juggled, but just a few things each day that had to be done and would be. My mind was a million miles from anything here. It was attentive to the time and space that I inhabited and I felt simple. A good simple. No worries to muck up my mind. I wasn't overthinking anything. We ate 3 times a day, played with kids, rode in a truck, played some games. As we were making our final descent back into MSP, I lamented to my friend about getting my phone back once we landed and once again being plugged in. I went on about how nice it was to talk to people in person have that simplicity that Nica had to offer us. He simply said, "you don't have to leave it there."
He was right. So I come back struggling for simplicity and realize that I'm the one allowing complexity. Yes, there are some complexities we have in order to function within our society. It's the way it works. However, me feeling invaded by the complexity of culture, technology, and social stimuli is because I've allowed them to do just that.
Proverbs 4 says: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
Maybe I'm taking this too far, but I think we (mostly speaking to me) need to be aware of and proactive about the things we're exposing our hearts to. When my computer screen has taken the place of my Bible as the first thing that greets me in the morning and the thing that tucks me in at night, my heart isn't guarded. When I allow and partake in talking about others in a way that's not uplifting, I'm not guarding my heart. When I allow myself to go on another shopping spree for new clothes because I'm bored or think it'll make me look and feel better, I'm not guarding my heart. What's the hole in your fence? Where do you need a shield? I need lots of them at the moment.
It's funny, I am a notorious wall builder when it comes to most things. I'm one who likes to keep people at an arms' length. I have walls that atomic bombs could only dent. However, something about the world can become so appealing and before I know it, I'm overcome. It's too late to simply "unplug" or tell the world to back off. I'm sinking.
That's so like us, right? Trying hard to hold it together and show the world that we're strong and really, the world sees that we're full of it and drowning. But Jesus. He's close at hand. Scripture calls God our refuge, our fortress (Ps. 46), our light, our salvation, our stronghold (Ps. 27), our rescue, One who is Mighty to Save (Zeph. 3).
When we haven't guarded in our own hearts, when we haven't turned our ears only to what God is saying to us, when we haven't been attuned to where God is guiding us next, when we are perishing in the noise that surrounds us in our earthly wait, HE becomes our guard.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
Thank you, Jesus, for doing things we can't do in ways we can't understand. Forgive us for handing our hearts over to this world. Fill us with Your truth. Wrap us in Your promises. Guard us as we wait on earth. Guard us as we wait for You. Amen.