Overcoming Life Distractions

Dallas Mavericks Original Logo used from 1980-...

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Yesterday, I talked about the need to formulate a plan for spiritual growth. It is ironic that I was discussing this when my Spiritual Enrichment Plan has been highly disrupted over the last month or so. The culprit? The Dallas Mavericks. I have followed the Mavs since I was a kid and have been overwhelmingly swept away by their run to the NBA Finals this year. I have stayed up until 1 a.m. some nights after wins, catching up on Tweets from the game and rewatching decisive moments. Some mornings, I have been so distracted that I scour the internet, wanting to read reaction to the games I have been watching. I am obsessive compulsive when it comes to these types of events and it has taken its toll on my time, energy, and focus. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed every minute of it and thank God for the sheer enjoyment and fun that these playoffs have provided but I will be relieved when it is all over.

When it is all over, hopefully with a Mavs win, I plan to take a week long sports fast to cleanse myself of my obsessive tendencies. I plan to finish a few books that I have been reading. I plan to return to a more normal routine of time with God and focus on what he is doing in my life. The key point is I am returning to my plan and refocusing myself on what is most important to me, becoming more Christlike. You see, if we are going to treat our spiritual life much like we treat our diet, exercise, or education, we have to avoid the tendency to let life’s distractions derail our plan. We have to simply shake off the rust and return to what we started or we have to rethink the way we are doing things and start anew. Too many times, we want to abandon our plan when we have a few hiccups and failures. Don’t abandon your plan just because you become distracted. You can start over and make it work.

My Elimination Experiment: Sports Fast

Texas Rangers (baseball)

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Today ends my week long elimination experiment. In previous posts, I proposed that for one week we fast, or eliminate,  something that has an unusual hold on our attention or time. I chose to go a week fasting from sports. Here is how it went:

First of all, it was kind of a relief. With all of the hype and attention given to the Super Bowl I was ready for a break from 24/7 sports talk. Because I live in the Dallas area, I was interested in the analysis of DFW as a Super Bowl host city but I moved past that without much trouble.

What was really hard for me was not obsessing over the Michael Young saga. I am a lifetime Texas Rangers’ fan and a long time admirer of Michael Young. There is a possibility that he will be traded from the team that he has served faithfully for more than 10 years. Normally, I would follow all of the chatter and rumors surrounding this story and I did intentionally search this story out a couple of times but only to catch a headline about it and not to read every word on the topic.

What I found to be the most silly aspect was a sudden panic I felt last Thursday when I thought it was NBA All Star Weekend. I literally had this thought, “Oh no, am I missing the NBA All Star Game?” It was the exact same feeling I get when I miss an assignment or duty at work or forget to get an item at the grocery store; over a basketball game!

Honestly, I needed the break from sports and I think God knew what he was doing when he led me to do this. My life became really hectic and stressed this past week when our daughter when in for surgery, the class that I am teaching started to have papers to grade, and the small group that I am leading began. Plus, I am becoming more and more committed to pursuing many of the themes and emphasis of this blog and learning how I can share what I have learned with others. I appreciated the extra space in my life to see what God has in store for me in these areas.

Through my fast, I have, for a time, placed sports in its proper perspective while pursuing things that have broader meaning and significance. I haven’t decided exactly how I am going to break my fast officially but when I did turn on sports talk radio last night and heard talk about the NFL seven months in advance of its next season, I didn’t have too much of a desire to jump back into my previously sports obsessed existence.

How about you? Did you eliminate something last week? How did it go?

The Next Great Fad: The Sports Fast

This is a picture of "Cowboys Stadium&quo...

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I used to carry a small transistor radio around my house so that I wouldn’t miss a pitch of a Texas Rangers’ game. No, this wasn’t just in my halcyon youth but well into my 30s. I used to read Sports Illustrated cover to cover every week and fumed when I realized that my issue was sometimes missing articles that others received. I may have been one of only 15 people who actually watched the live broadcast of the US vs. Spain basketball Gold medal game of the 2008 Olympics; played at 3:00 in the morning. I recently read about a couple in Alabama who missed their daughter’s wedding because it conflicted with an U. of Alabama football game.

Quick philosophy discussion –¬† Our culture is awash in Postmodernism. This, in the simplest terms, is a breakdown of Big Stories. In other words, there is no large theme that holds culture together. Former Big Stories such as religion, duty, science, or the American Way have been reduced to little stories. So we have thousands of little stories and a fragmented society. Who is to say that my story is less important than your story? This contributes to an increase in fanaticism in our culture. We are placing emphasis that should be reserved for larger, more meaningful stories on to ideas, events, and happenings that hold very little meaning; such as celebrity, pets, veganism, etc.

Sports may be the biggest small to Big Story of them all and while cultures in the past were symbolized by their churches or government buildings, our culture, at least in the DFW Metroplex, is defined by the world’s largest domed stadium. On Sunday, that domed stadium will be hosting the biggest sporting event of the year. But on Monday, I will be shutting off my sports talk radio and my sports Twitter feeds, and my multiple times a day ESPN.com habit and trying to create a week thinking about the Biggest Story the Universe has ever known – God’s work of redemption and action on his creation.

Now that is something to be fanatical about.