Tag Archives: distracted

Laurel vs. Yanny: Discerning Distraction in My Spiritual Life

I barely grazed the surface of the Laurel vs Yanny debate before deciding I am not going to let the pointless debate rent any space in my day. However, as I was catching up on my Bible reading plan today, I read the following verses that brought Laurel/Yanny back to mind:

“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-27‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

The prized crown for the winner of the Greek games would have been a Laurel wreath: a ring of twisted branches that would eventually whither. God’s Word encourages us to live with diligence: our way of racing for the unfading Laurel crown of finishing strong as followers of Christ.

I have been running hard these last few months. The Holy Spirit has clearly instructed me to finish the Bible Study for young women that I began writing several years ago. In obedience, I have pressed hard to finish strong. I have also been training my body with more diligence, spending money more conservatively in attempt to stick to our budget, and striving for more intentionality in how I parent our kids.

I am aiming for the Laurel.

But every time I do, Yanny gets in the way.

It is easier for me to hear apparently. I looked for the official definition of the word Yanny and couldn’t find one. Apparently, it is simply a cacophonous sound of distraction (the internet proved it). This is certainly true in my life.

The distracting voice of Yanny in my life comes in the form of instagram stories, Facebook videos, my own negative or self-loathing thoughts, my fears about the opinions of others, over-thinking simple things—your ultra-basic selfie problems. When I get stuck thinking about myself, whether thinking highly or poorly, I get trapped in the deafening dissonance of yanny:

  • Shame on me for letting our son get a sunburn.
  • I should have tried to sound more intelligent or witty in that conversation.
  • Wow, my hospitality deserves a pat on the back.
  • I totally need a break from this mom-thing.
  • I am defeated.
  • I am a rock-star.
  • I am numb.
  • I need Ben and Jerry’s.

I try to engage it, defeat it, overcome the “yanny” echoing in my head. However, my debate with the voices of my fleshly temptations or the worlds expectations is like training as “one who runs aimlessly or boxes like one beating the air.”

We might not have the cognitive or auditory capabilities of hearing Laurel instead of yanny. But we can choose the self-control of our awareness and intentionality to reach for the unfading Laurel of Christian discipline.

Here are some areas I know The Holy Spirit is coaching me to begin training in for godliness:

Bible reading: Spiritual nutrition is necessary, even if the spiritual appetite isn’t always there. I ask God to help me become less like a Pharisee about this–feeling godly because I checked it off the list. I want to feel more like a devoted child, who knows time spent with Dad is a treasure, even if it feels like we are just reading the morning paper together.

Prayer: We must connect with The Lord, because He is worthy, and it is what is best for us. He deserves our praise and worship in prayer, is big enough to hear our fears and complaints, and longs to have that kind of open intimacy with us that only comes through direct conversation. Right now, this discipline is the most difficult for me.

Journaling: it is like a soul detox.

Meditation: a re-centering of body, heart, soul, and mind, to come in submission under the authority and grace of Christ. This is my focus when I do yoga at home.

Fasting: Figure out what is “Yanny” for you, and take a break from it. A few months ago for me it was snacking. Now as Summer begins, I am going to take 3 weeks off from social media and online shopping/browsing to make a little more space for the voice of TRUTH to be more prominent in my heart and mind.

Worship: It is all about Jesus.

Fellowship: How can I get to know my Beloved better if I do not take time to get to know His Beloved: His bride, the church? I get more of Jesus when I spend time with His people.

Service: This is perhaps one of the best ways to siphon the Yanny out of my head. This week, I am in quarantine for being sick. So I write letters to encourage Gods people, and I pray for those I know do not have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus… yet. Activities that focus my mind on others energize me to tap into God’s heart. When I connect deeper with the truth of God, my heart and head clear of insecurity and selfish thoughts.

Scripture Memory: I almost forgot this one! Romans 8 is my goal this year, and the process is slow, but imperative for instilling truth deep in my heart where it can make a difference in my identity.

Isn’t it ironic?

I was quick to dismiss a superfluous internet debate as a waste of my time. However, when it comes to the actual voice of victory (by focusing on Jesus) vs the voice of defeat (by self-centered distraction), I realize I need to pay a bit more attention to what I am actually hearing.

Maybe you need to recalibrate your perception too.

Need a bit more perspective on Spiritual Disciplines? Listen to this short interview with Don Whitney from DesiringGod.org.

Feeling stuck in the self-centered spiral? I read The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller at least twice a year. I can not recommend this tiny book enough. It is a very helpful, Gospel-centered, focus-reorienting guidebook.


P.S.: New Website Coming Soon!

You may have noticed I am trying to get used to a new website name: Beckyrosty.com (coming soon!). Campfiregrace.com has served me incredibly well these last few years.  However, the new website name and format will better suit my goal to serve women and young adults through speaking and writing about God’s amazing love for us. (Don’t worry, the significance of Campfire Grace will make a reappearance.)

Stay tuned in June for the new website launch, where you can keep up to date on my speaking calendar, new Bible study content, and the book launch of Joyfully Ever After.

As always, if this article has impacted you in any way, please feel free to share!

Bible Study Tips For The Easily Distracted

Bible Study Tips for the Easily DistractedWhat is keeping us from studying our Bibles? Could it be that we 21 century Americans are a teensy bit distracted?

It’s not just a 21 century problem. Paul saw that the Ephesians were struggling with a similar issue. His words to them apply to us as well:

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:15-21

From this passage, we can identify a few distractions that keep us from being filled with the Spirit, along with ways to overcome them:

1. Time and space challenged: My husband says I’m directionally challenged. Well I am also time challenged and space challenged. Paul says be careful how you walk, making the most of your time. How long do you walk, or linger, on a path of pointlessness? For me, I tend to linger on social media… definitely not making the most of my time.

It distracts me from reading my Bible. I will be studying God’s Word, decide to look up a verse via the internet, then pop on over to facebook to post it; 20 minutes later I have scrolled through too many ridiculous political memes, teenager-posts, and comparison-pictures. My mind is distracted and it will take a LOT to get back into a focused study of the Scriptures.

Remedy: lets expose our “lingering spots” and stay away from them while studying scripture.

2. Pity the Fool: Our own opinions can be a huge distraction as well. Paul reminds us to “not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

I think for many of us, our own will distracts us. We read scripture, and immediately form an opinion about it. We decide if we like it or don’t like it. If we like it, we keep reading. If we don’t like it, we skip to a different chapter or verse that feels more comfy.

Our will is a distraction that eventually leads to foolishness.

RemedyLet us echo Jesus’ prayer before studying Scripture: “not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

Also, try memorizing Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

3. Over-Consumed: Most of us live in a consumer-culture. It is natural to take in everything life has to offer, but it is not always helpful. Though we may not be getting “drunk with wine,” we are consuming something. Whatever that thing is, could it be taking the place of God’s Word? Are we feasting so much on the world that we have no room to be filled with the filled with the Spirit? 

RemedyLets take some time away from the things that consume us? This might look like “fasting” from TV, certain hobbies, books, social circles, maybe even food. By not filling up on these things, we will have room to fill up on the Word of God. Our minds will not be so distracted; rather, we will be hungry to be filled.

4. ADHD Mind: Often we are distracted because we just haven’t prepared our heart or mind. We think we can rush from a work out, getting ready for the day, and checking our emails to a posture of quiet stillness before the Lord.

Paul knows how music helps our brains to focus on a concept. Our church gatherings get it too. We sing songs before a sermon to help prepare and focus our minds to receive teaching from God’s Word. In a hurried society, making melodies is an active way to quiet a busy mind and focus on God.

Remedy: Make a worship playlist and play it regularly before studying the Bible. (Have a helpful worship song? Share it with us in a comment below).

5. Bitter heart: Do you carry ungratefulness or bitterness in your heart? I know that my bitterness always distracts me from a fruitful study time in the Bible.

See James 3:13-18 for more on this.

Remedy: Pauls says to always give thanks! Lets start our Bible study with a heart of gratefulness. Write a list of 5 things you are thankful of God for. We also need to remember to extend forgiveness quickly so as not to be distracted by the Devil’s schemes (more on this in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11).

6. Going Solo: I tend to get distracted just by my own wandering thoughts, shiny things around, even squirrels (saw that one coming didn’t you). In the end, if we are pursuing a deeper relationship with God, longing to be filled with the Spirit, through the study of God’s Word, maybe we need a buddy. Paul reminds us to gather with other Christians, encourage them and be encouraged by them. His commendation, to submit to each other, reminds us of our need for accountability.

RemedySome of my favorite times in God’s Word has been sitting quietly next to my husband or a dear sister in Christ. Meet a friend at a coffee shop, or schedule a time with your spouse or roommate to study God’s word together. Remind your companion that you aren’t necessarily meeting to focus on each other, but to be a presence of accountability to staying focused on God. After a set amount of time, ask each other what God is speaking through His Word.

Still not focused? If you still feel unable to engage in God’s Word, perhaps you are struggling with a different issue. Press the “Follow” button to get updates on more topics for the Bible Study Struggle.