As I admitted to my class on Wednesday, I have recently developed a consuming obsession with the BBC show, Sherlock. A friend introduced my to it a little over a week ago, and since then, I have passionately ingested every show in the first two “series.” Thankfully, there are only six of them. However, they are also each ninety minutes long, so watching them all has certainly taken some commitment on my part. My newfound love was well-timed, since the third series started this past Sunday, and as an added bonus, I got THIS in the mail on Saturday:
Now, I might be a little more embarrassed to admit this obsession to you, were it not for the fact that so many of my friends on Facebook have shared this meme, so I feel like they know what I’m talking about:
Exactly! So yeah…you get it.
Here’s the thing about my quirky Sherlock obsession, though. You see, I have this other thing called My Real Life. And shockingly, Sherlock has served to distract me from my real life. When I’m taking care of the important business of getting all caught up on Sherlock, it seems somehow much less important to…oh, I don’t know…do the dishes, or plan for Wednesday night class, or educate my children. You know, little things like that. At times this past week, Sherlock has obscured those priorities. I mean, it’s just so much more fun to solve thrilling mysteries like how Moriarty accessed the British crown jewels in the Tower of London than to solve the mystery of how my family can have thirteen unmatched white socks in the laundry (<—not making that up).
Of course, it’s easy enough to come out of my Sherlock obsession because I simply have to remind myself of this one little detail: the show is not real. My life, on the other hand, is real. And that makes it more important than Sherlock.
Along those same lines though, I often get “trapped” in my own mind, just like I get trapped in a Sherlock episode. In this case, however, my view of reality is not obscured by intriguing mysteries, delightful British accents, and fast-paced humor; instead, my view of reality is obscured by my own feelings and perceptions. Let me give you an example of a time I got trapped in my own mind last week. Now, read carefully, because I’m going to ask you a question at the end:
On Wednesday afternoon, I felt like exploding because my house was messy, and I hate mess and clutter. I need things to be straight for my sanity, and when things aren’t straight, it drives me crazy. I hate it when my house is so cluttered!
Okay, here is your question: what pronoun is most prominently featured in that little rant?
Yes, the first person singular: I, me, my. Never mind that one half of the “mess” was caused by a wonderful art project in which my kids were trying to paint their own version of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and the other half was caused by all the supplies and prep I needed to host a party for the little girls at church on Saturday–two worthy endeavors. No, all that mattered in that moment was my own, personal dislike of clutter. I was trapped in my own mind. And when you get trapped in your own mind, your perceptions and feelings become very, very important. When you’re trapped in your own mind, YOU are all that matters. And therefore, if something bothers you, then of course you should react. Of course it makes sense to explode over something like clutter. Because clutter bothers YOU.
Or me. Whatever.
This week in class, I shared my #1, best strategy for getting out of the trap of my own mind. For me, the key to that prison has always been found in some form of quiet time with God. It can take many different forms: maybe it’s reading something from the Bible, maybe it’s a silent prayer, or writing a prayer down, or meditating on a verse, or even just sitting in silence for a few minutes and quieting my thoughts. Regardless of the form, just taking that time to step out of my own concerns and focus on something so much bigger than my own little life circumstances really helps me to realign with reality. It puts my life into perspective for me, much the same way as, say, going out and looking at all the stars at night reminds me of how small I am. Taking a few minutes to ponder God and eternity makes me realize that my petty preferences, such as a dislike of clutter, are just that: petty. They are certainly not worth exploding over, and they’re certainly not an excuse to be unloving to other people.
It turns out that I am not alone in this. In class, several other women shared how time with God helped them to focus on what mattered in their day and to keep proper priorities. For those who did not spend daily time with God, we talked some about what that looked like. It can truly be done any time and anywhere where you have a few moments of quiet. And it can take many forms, such as the ones I’ve listed above. But the bottom line is that taking that few minutes to spend with God can help remind you that your feelings, your concerns, and your preferences are not the most important things in life.
That may be an elementary concept (couldn’t resist; just call me Sherlock), but it’s one that can keep us from exploding throughout the day.
This Wednesday, we are going to continue on to “stuffing,” but before we move on, Do you have any other tricks to keep from exploding?