What's the Big Deal About Distractions?
Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries, was quoted on marriage: “If destruction fails to entangle us, distraction will do its best.” It’s easy for me to think I’m blessed because I don’t have a gambling problem, a drug or alcohol addiction, an affair or other secret sin in my life like my brother, friend, or neighbor does. Nevertheless, I know I’m broken, and I struggle in my marriage in many other ways. In the past and present, my marriage suffers as I struggle with distractions.
In Luke 8:4-15, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. A farmer scatters seed to grow a crop, with some seed falling on the path, some on rocky ground, and some among thorns, none of which produces any fruit. Other seed falls on the good soil and yields an incredible crop. In verse 14, Jesus says,
“The seed that fell among the thorny weeds is like those who hear (God’s Word or God’s truth), but they let the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life keep them from growing and producing good fruit.”
Today, I think it’s easy for God’s truth to fall among those metaphoric thorns and get choked out by the distractions of the world.
Perhaps the thorns that Jesus describes in the parable of the sower are our distractions. We all have them to some extent. Many of us build our schedules around them. Today I may be worried about a test that’s coming back from the doctor, or if my child is fitting in at school, or if my Instagram or Twitter likes are dwindling. It’s easy to compare my life to my neighbors, or the celebrities I follow on Twitter, and think, “I don’t have riches”, or “Man, my life would be so much easier if I were/had: ________ (you fill in the blank).”
What’s the big deal with distractions anyway? According to Dr. Kimberling, a distraction is anything that takes away from our marriage in a way that could potentially hurt it. Kimberling, a marriage counselor, author, and founder of Awesomemarriage.com, says that distractions, regardless of whether they’re bad (alcohol, drugs, infidelity, porn) or good (children, church, hobbies, or sports), can lead couples to ‘drift’ apart in their marriages. Distraction leads to drift, and drift can be the start of a path that ultimately leads to marriage destruction. In his counseling, Dr. Kimberling often hears couples say, “Our first years were really good and then it seemed we just began to drift apart.” Drifting apart can happen in any marriage. There have been seasons in my marriage where this has certainly been an issue and major source of conflict.
Dr. Kimberling reminds us that “anything we say yes to, means that we’re saying no to something else.” That something else is quite often time away from, or investment in, our spouses and our marriage. Building a great marriage involves removing bad distractions and balancing the good distractions in our lives. If we do this well, we move our marriage forward. If we don’t balance well, our marriages can crash and burn.
Becoming aware of the distractions in your marriage, discussing them together, and learning to balance them well, is a good starting point. If your marriage suffers due to the influence of bad distractions, counseling is the most appropriate way to address these issues. Couples can also benefit by participating in a marriage small group, or in RE | Engage. Through RE | Engage, couples learn ways to balance distractions, purposefully connect, communicate more effectively, conflict in a productive way, and grow together towards oneness. Oneness is the marriage blessing that God promises in Genesis 2:24, and God will deliver on his promises to you.
What are the current distractions in your marriage? Are they good or bad?
Discuss with your spouse and agree on one thing that you can do to bring balance in your marriage.