Thursday, 2 May 2013

Savour the moment

Life is meant to be savoured and enjoyed. 

Sometimes we rush through it so quickly, we fail to stop and smell the roses - or any other flower for that matter.

Most of us are so adept at multi-tasking it has become second-nature, an intrinsic part of our way of being.

Even if we are constrained by health problems or other restrictions, it is all too easy to fail to be fully present in the moment.

I thought multi-tasking was beyond me as an M.E and chronic illness sufferer, but I was wrong. 

Having just committed to a 30 day challenge to be "intentional about being fully present, tackling one task alone, wherever you are", I was brought face to face with my failure to do just that.

Margaret Feinberg offered an opportunity to join a "crazypants challenge" during which she asks, "Could it be possible that focussing on one task at a time makes life better and more enjoyable?" 

The main motivation is to "make more space for meaningful relationships, including our relationship with God".

Even if I live a pretty inactive life by most standards, it turns out that I still multi-task. 

Here's how:
  • Eating breakfast while scanning my phone, texting, tweeting, reading.
  • Drinking coffee/tea as I try to read the papers, check the phone (again), whilst maintaining a pretence of conversing with my beloved and helping him with the daily crossword puzzle.
  • Reading erm...up the table or watching TV while eating lunch.
  • Using the laptop with various 'windows' open at once so I can flit with ease between e-mails, writing, blogging, reading blogs, commenting, Twitter, Facebook, internet browsing.
  • Resting in bed while reading, checking my mobile phone when it beeps, finding body and mind hard to relax..surprise, surprise.
  • Eating dinner and making conversation with my husband, sometimes with the PC on in the background and often with TV audible from the living room.
  • Watching TV as I talk through the programmes (bad habit) maybe glance at/read a book, have a drink/snack, chat to my Other Half, browse social media etc...
  • Go to bed and read, pray, write a bit, try to sleep, jot down precious thoughts, poetry and insights so I don't forget them, pray, count sheep...say "Goodnight" to my beloved, listen to his snoring, count sheep, Zzzzz....
You get the picture.

I'm not proud of my inattention. It can't be helping me to function well.

Part of the problem may actually be due to having a chronic illness and needing to rest up a lot through the day. My 'wakeful' periods tend to become filled with a quiet desperation to make the most of them. Though this way of carrying on probably isn't it.

Having a butterfly mind that flits hither and thither is a distinct disadvantage (and energy drainer) to an already fatigued, foggy, fretful, forgetful brain.

So you can see why I really need to do this challenge!

We can easily tune out God's voice, but if that persists He may be forced to take more drastic measures at times to regain our attention.
"We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world" ~ C.S. Lewis 'The Problem of Pain'
In an attempt to really concentrate on one task, I asked God to speak to me through His word as I was reading Psalm 147. Quietening myself before Him seems to work well as I start the day but there is a tendency to forget to reconnect with Him as the day progresses.

As I read and re-read the passage, verse 18 seemed to leap out at me:

"He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow"

He sends his word..God takes the initiative. He begins the process whereby we hear from Him.

and melts them..Our hard hearts are melted. The icy veil we pull over our hurt feelings becomes a soft puddle. Frozen emotions are thawed as we respond to His love.

he stirs up his breezes..Again, the activity is first and foremost from God. The wind of the Holy Spirit is in the air, scent of new life to invigorate and cleanse out the old. Spring arrives and change occurs with an awareness of the gentle rustling sigh of His Presence.

and the waters flow..Our tears may fall. There is an unimpeded flow as stagnant waters now flow freely. Dank pools of resentment and unforgiveness are cleared. A refreshing rain, cleansing and watering anointing for dry souls that thirst for a touch of grace to baptise us.

Those few minutes of undivided attentiveness yielded great abundance.

If I'd simply read once, scanned briefly then moved on, I would have missed so much more that God was willing to teach me.

How many more precious moments of insight could come from being fully present?

How many more conversations would be deep, rich and meaningful rather than lead to confusion and misunderstanding simply because I fail to listen properly?

How much of life's enjoyment escapes eyes that skim the surface?

Sadly, far too much.

So, I am going to have a go, to try to do one thing well instead of several things badly, to give people due consideration, to give life due attention and - most important of all - give God the time and focus He deserves.

As His One Word for me this year is, "Come" then I am signally failing to heed it if I prioritise other people and things or only pay Him scant attention when I do.

I may not succeed every day. 

I won't be able to record every attempt.

But I want to zoom in, get up close, really see the things that are there, notice what's around me, be awed, amazed and..yes..Wonderstruck anew at God's goodness and grace.

What would it be like to glide with swan-like serenity through the choppy waters of adversity, with eyes calmly fixed on the route ahead?

Far better, I expect, than duck-dabbling with furious, flustered paddling going on beneath the waves.

Perhaps this 30 day challenge will enable me to live with the peace of trusting God for each moment, this moment only, then the next, and so on..

Will you join me? Uni-taskers unite!

You don't have to take part for 30 days, but if you do then you and I are giving ourselves enough time to form new habits that may transform our lives.

Our friends and loved ones will benefit and so will we.

Let's try to savour the moment...starting now.

To keep track of this challenge, my God-sized dream journey and other posts you can join with Google Friend Connect, sign up for e-mail notifications or by liking my Facebook page.


  1. Funny you wrote this today. In church this week, Father's homily suggested that we aren't fully present when we pray because we are often involved in other tasks at the same time. He challenged us to write down how we felt before prayer this week, then to fully commit some time to the Lord in prayer, then to write down how we felt afterward. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't found the time to try the exercise yet, but I think perhaps your post is God's subtle reminder to me to take more time with Him. Thank you, Joy.

    1. Thanks very much for sharing your insight, Staci. It's amazing how God uses various means to get us to listen to Him and be encouraged to be in His presence. I am happy to have been a small part of that process for you. May you be greatly blessed as you spend more time listening to God :) xx

  2. Joy lovely post, we all do this and we need to stop, slow down and smell the roses, appreciate what we have and live with the best intentions. Even though we have days where we fall short thats ok as long as we realise it and try again the next day. Thanks for your inspiring post.

    1. Yes, Kathy, giving ourselves grace is SO important. That's a really valuable thing to realise. The usual tendency is to be hard on ourselves and give up on our good intentions before we've barely begun! Thank you for your lovely comment. :) xx

  3. I will join you. I can so identify with your chronically ill, always playing catch up during the non sleeping periods state. There becomes no time to just be and to fully appreciate the beauty of all God is and has done. Joy you inspire.. I want to be wonderstruck anew too!

    1. Hi Mandy. Great to have you on board! We can share our progress and recognise the problems due to chronic illness. Let's do our best to live mindfully, focus on one thing at a time and enjoy to the full the great gifts God has given us. Bless you :) xx

  4. Joy I think this is my favorite post of yours so far! This line was so relatable "My 'wakeful' periods tend to become filled with a quiet desperation to make the most of them." You touched my heart today

    1. Hi Christa. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such a lovely encouraging comment that touched my heart! I may often feel that quiet desperation but I hope to learn to be more at peace as this challenge goes on. Bless you :) xx

  5. Joy, I agree with Christa - this is my fave post of yours up to now. So full of truth and insight - we all multi-task way too much don't we, and a lot of the time it isn't a virtue at all. Thanks for sharing this wisdom with us, really grateful for this post (and love the quote by Lewis, just awesome!).

    1. Hi James. It's an honour to have you here! Thank you very much for taking the time to leave this really encouraging comment. I think multi-tasking is going to be a very hard habit to break but it is worth the effort to seek to maximise performance and minimise stress. Bless you :)