Distract Us

January 5

Distract Us ~~ Christina Villa

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground. Genesis 3:19

I was walking my dog around the local pond when I saw a father with his two small daughters riding along the bike path toward me. The dad was steering his bike one-handed while talking on his cell phone, using the tone of his voice I think of as “business pompous.” The two girls pedaled behind silently.

Just after they passed me, I spotted a mother duck and baby ducks swimming around in circles and squawking at the water’s edge. Exactly the kind of thing you take young children to the pond to see. What other spontaneous, kid-appropriate, free-of-charge mature sights would they miss before they went home? The big ugly carp circling under the footbridge? The flock of geese coming in for a water landing?

Maybe that father regularly takes his children on hikes and bike rides and walks, pointing things out to them, or just talking, and that day on the cell phone was not how it usually was. When my kids were young, I was certainly too distracted much of the time to notice plenty of great sights I could have pointed out to them. Everyone survived.

And I know every profession has its version of “business-pompous” that people are required to speak if they want to get ahead. There’s nothing wrong with working hard and doing what it takes to support yourself and your family.

But the Sunday bike-riding Dad on the cell phone reminded me of a term coined by Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. “Sunday neurosis,” he said, is “that kid of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”

Frankl wrote in the 1940s; today, technology means we need never been freed from the work week. People complain about this, often with an undercurrent of self-congratulation: see how important I am? But sometimes there’s a less obvious undercurrent – one of relief. How much of our checking our various devices for the latest from work is really necessary, and how much is instead a rush to fill some emptiness?

PRAYER: Distract us from work, help us change the subject, show us that we are more than our jobs. Show us some ducks by the edge of a pond. Amen.

 

God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 6-7.