Thursday, December 22, 2005


I don't know who said it, but this quote is taped to the edge of my computer: “For him who has no concentration, there is no tranquility.”

Ever have those days where your brain’s scattered to the four winds? Last minute holiday rush can do it: getting the presents bought and wrapped, cards sent, parties and programs attended. But any overcrowded "to do" list can make it difficult to concentrate. My jobs list for any given day used to be crammed full from 5 a.m. till evening—sometimes late evening. I constantly watched the clock, making sure I didn’t give any particular project more time than I’d allotted. Couldn’t afford to get behind! Hurry, hurry!

As I worked, my gaze constantly rotated from the project on my desk, to the clock, then a glance toward the pile of work still waiting, then back to the current work in progress. I couldn’t focus on what was in front of me because I was too aware of all that had yet to be done. My scattered brain couldn’t concentrate—and there was definitely no tranquility.

Then one day a project went astray during its overnight express ride to me, and I realized I magically had three extra hours in my schedule that day. I resisted the urge to hurry and fill it up with projects in the queue. Instead, I deliberately slowed down. I took one thing at a time. I didn’t watch the clock. I didn’t look at what was next on my "to do" list. I just focused on the project at hand. It was heavenly. Yes, I took longer per project than normal, but (for a change) I had no headache or neck ache at the end of the day. I was also able to eat away from my desk (in my porch swing, no less) and did half an hour of guilt-free reading after lunch. I returned to work, still able to concentrate, and definitely feeling tranquil.

Do you have trouble concentrating? Are you unable to focus on school assignments or reading a leisure book? Do you rush through reading God's Word without meditating on it or applying it to your life? (Devotions done. Check.) Maybe you’ve over-scheduled yourself. Try cutting back. Remove the word "multi-tasking" from your vocabulary, and do one thing at a time at a sane pace. See if you don't gain both in concentration and a peaceful spirit.

I can't think of a nicer Christmas gift to give yourself this year.

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