Shiny object syndrome may not be a real medical diagnosis, but I have struggled with it all of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into the mall to buy something specific but got distracted by the sales or the lady at the kiosk selling the latest skin care solution or the perfect hot pink blazer. I have picked up my phone too many times to send an important text only to be distracted by other apps and left double tapping and commenting for hours. Even in my own house, I will walk into my kitchen but forget why because I get distracted by the noise of the TV, thinking about dinner, and yelling at the kids all at the same time. It has become such a normal way of life for me to live in a constant state of distraction.
Sometimes I choose to be distracted because it can be an escape from my reality. As a mom, a healthcare worker, and a pastor’s wife, 2020 was mentally and emotionally exhausting, and I often found myself escaping by scrolling on my phone. It took me down a dark hole of bitterness and depression. What was meant to take my mind off the stress of living through the chaos of the pandemic only made me feel worse about myself.
I saw other mamas who were getting creative with virtual school and doing fun things at home with their children that I couldn’t do. The distraction left me doubting my ability to care for my kids well.
I saw my friends grow their platforms on Instagram and gain followers overnight while I had been tirelessly striving and strategizing to gain some following. The distraction left me doubting if my voice even mattered to others.
I saw other speakers and authors getting opportunities despite the pandemic. The distraction left me doubting my own purpose and calling.
I wanted everything I didn’t have, and I became disappointed with my season. As a pastor’s wife, I felt guilty for even having these thoughts, so I kept it deep inside. But it came out as frustration at my husband and impatience with my children. I knew I was beginning to lose my joy and develop a deep sense of anger at God. All the things I wanted — even the distractions in my life — were good things: being a good mom, using my online presence to share the gospel, and encouraging others with the truth of God’s word. So, why wasn’t God doing anything about them?
This is where shiny object syndrome takes us: Distraction always leads to doubting God.
In Luke 10:38-42, we read about Martha, who loves Jesus and invites Him into her home. But she’s so distracted by how she wants things to look and turn out that she misses Jesus completely. Her distraction is rooted in a good thing — Martha wants everyone to feel welcomed and Jesus to be comfortable in her home. But preoccupied with the wrong thing, she asks Jesus, “Master, don’t you care . . . ?”
Distraction leads to doubt.
In Mark 4:35-41, we read about a storm that shakes the disciples to the core. Even though they had seen Jesus make the impossible possible and though He was in the boat with them, the disciples get distracted by the raging waves and ask Jesus, “Teacher, don’t you care . . . ”
Distraction leads to doubt.
In both stories, Jesus was so close to them, and they loved and knew Jesus. But the distractions kept them from focusing on Him, thus leading them to doubt His goodness.
In our culture today, I truly believe distraction is the biggest deception that keeps us from intimacy with God. We live in a time where there are so many things constantly stealing our attention through our senses and feelings. We live in a state of low-grade anxiety, fear, and overwhelm that keeps us from thriving and enjoying life because we doubt God’s goodness and plan in our current season.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
Distractions are not going away, so let’s intentionally learn to fix our eyes on Jesus — not just on Sundays, not just some days, but every single day. Let’s not get caught up even in the good things and instead keep our minds stayed on Him. And let’s experience the wholeness and peace God promises us when we trust and focus on Him.Leave a Comment