Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Distracted

Funny how ten seconds can change your life. One minute you're cruising through your regular routine; then, you blink, and suddenly you realize that you just caused a three car pile-up at rush hour.

I can't believe it even happened. It was so sudden! And yet, in slow motion at the same time.

I had taken John some dinner around 5 pm (he planned to stay late at BYU to work on his dissertation). We met at the usual spot. He hopped in, I handed him food, we proceeded towards the temple where we often talk while he eats. Preston beamed and giggled from his car seat when he saw his dad (his favorite person in the world!). Heading north on 9th East, I turned to ask John if we were still going out for Valentine's the next evening. That was it. A very short, innocent question. As I turned to face front again, I saw, too late, that although the light was green, the car in front of me had suddenly stopped. Apparently they had stopped to accommodate the car in front of them, who had stopped for a pedestrian.

As if under water, my huge E350 (15 passenger) van slowly slammed into a helpless, tin foil Subaru. The smaller car gingerly smashed accordian-style; the back window exploding at the end for dramatic affect. Pebbles of shattered glass flew. Preston wailed. John's food was everywhere. It seemed fake, like we were watching a movie. Was everyone alright? Yes, we were all belted and it wasn't high speed. But of course, in that ten seconds, I caused thousands of dollars of damage. Not a happy thought.

I hopped out, checked on the other parties, the police came, we did the paperwork. I've never caused an accident before, so I was somewhat unfamiliar, but luckily for us, the passenger in the smashed Subaru had a lawyer father who specializes in car accidents. Great :). So she walked us through it.

We've spent years building up a good driving history and we had great rates! But, now, because of my brief lack of attention, our premium will raise and our precious record is sullied. I don't know how long it will take, but I'm sure it will be years before we earn back our "good driving" status and privileges.

I was infinitely grateful that no one was really hurt. Still, I couldn't help feeling remorse for all the damage I had caused. It was so unintentional and so split-second. But that is no excuse. The truth is, if my eyes had been on the road, it probably would have been avoided.

All this caused me to think. It is so easy for us to get distracted! Even when on the "right path," when cruising at a good pace, when all the lights are "green." Yet, anytime we let our eyes wander from the path, we are at risk. We may cause unintentional damage to ourselves, our loved ones, or perfect strangers.

I made a new resolve to "keep my eyes on the road" of life. That doesn't mean we can't have fun! It just means, we keep our desires and attention inside the lines the Lord has mapped out.

Learning to avoid distraction is a vital part of life. I believe that when Satan fails to tempt us in other more obvious ways, he resorts to distraction. Filling our life with lots of good stuff, while we forget or neglect the essential. This adds up to us becoming weaker spiritually and possibly physically. Therefore, when those temptations come around again, we are less able to withstand. Our reaction time is shortened because we are not paying full attention. We slam unavoidably into messes that require untold amounts of time to repair. Sometimes, it may be a total loss if there is no insurance and no strength left to "fix" the problem. This is truly a tragedy.

Elder Richard G. Scott shares the following:

"Are there so many fascinating, exciting things to do or so many challenges pressing down upon you that it is hard to keep focused on that which is essential? When things of the world crowd in, all too often the wrong things take highest priority. Then it is easy to forget the fundamental purpose of life. Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people. It is distraction. He would have good people fill life with “good things” so there is no room for the essential ones. Have you unconsciously been caught in that trap?

“Men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, … for [the devil] seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Ne. 2:27).

Some places are sacred and holy where it seems easier to discern the direction of the Holy Spirit. The temple is such a place. Find a retreat of peace and quiet where periodically you can ponder and let the Lord establish the direction of your life. Each of us needs to periodically check our bearings and confirm that we are on course. Sometime soon you may benefit from taking this personal inventory:

What are my highest priorities to be accomplished while on earth?

How do I use my discretionary time? Is some of it consistently applied to my highest priorities?

Is there anything I know I should not be doing? If so, I will repent and stop it now.

In a quiet moment write down your responses. Analyze them. Make any necessary adjustments.

Put first things first. Do the best you can while on earth to have an ideal family. To help you do that, ponder and apply the principles in the proclamation on the family. I testify that the Lord lives. He loves you. As you live worthily and honestly seek His help, He will guide and strengthen you to know His will and to be able to do it." (First Things First, 2001)


I am grateful that I had this experience, as unsettling as it was. I realize that I am in need of a tune-up. Time to refocus, time to discern that which is truly essential in my life and make sure that those things are prioritized every day. I don't want to become distracted by seemingly small things which, in the end, wind up taking me totally off the path I envision for myself and my family. Not to mention that next time I take my eyes off the road, I might not be so lucky.


“If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”

Bruce R. McKonkie

4 comments:

Matthew said...

Wow, I can really resonate with this message. It is so easy for us to get distracted from what is really important.

Cassidy said...

Thanks for this post. I really needed to be reminded of what is "Good, better and best." (was it Elder Oaks who gave that talk?)

Elizabeth Huntington said...

Stacey, I am so sorry that you had such a terrifically unsettling experience, and so thankful everyone seems to be OK.

Steffani said...

Stacey!

I can't believe that happened! What a nightmare--but what a good lesson to apply. I love this post. Thanks.