Several years ago I saw a performer throwing and catching a working chainsaw, a bowling ball and something on fire (can’t remember what).
All at the same time.
While riding a unicorn.
Ok, it was a unicycle, but still, it was impressive.
As you’ve guessed, he was a juggler. I’ve been thinking lately about how it’s a great act, but a terrible way to live our lives.
You and I, we’re jugglers. From childhood we’ve been raised, educated, and exhorted to have this one ability above and beyond all others. College requires it. Bosses require it. Parenting requires it.
Of course, we don’t call it juggling. That sounds silly. No, we prefer to call it multi-tasking. But don’t kid yourself; it’s the same thing – “Keep everything in motion, all the projects in the air, don’t let anything drop, you can handle it, you can do it!!!”
And we can. We must. Modern life says so.
But what about those moments when we need to stop…and focus…on one thing…or one person…exclusively…for a while?
It’s a crazy question, but I think one worth asking, “Can you uni-task?”
I have four applications running on my laptop even now as I type this post, and my browser window has three tabs open. How about you? We are so chronically distracted, that it feels weird not to be distracted.
Ever check your phone because it “felt” like you were about to get a text?
When you go on vacation, do you leave your work behind? If not, why not? If so, how brutally hard is that?
In the last 24 hours have you had to ask someone to repeat what they just said?
What I’m getting at is this: when the situation requires it, do you have the resolve to ignore everything else and focus on just one thing?
I hate to give you harsh truths, but here we go – Your joy in life depends on your ability to uni-task. Why? For starters, your relationships depend on it.
I read a story recently about a woman who lost her husband. A friend called to offer his sympathy and ask how she was doing. At first the grieving widow was greatly comforted and began to pour out her soul. Then she realized what the noise was on the other end of the phone. He was typing. “Typing?” she thought, “Surely not.” But yes, he admitted sheepishly, he had been checking his email.
When you’re at a gathering, talking with someone, do you look at them or are you scanning the room to see who else you may want to talk with? Do you listen until they finish talking or do you cut out midway thinking about what you’re going to say in reply?
Even more, think about what multi-tasking does to the condition of your soul.
Seth Godin regularly asks his audiences how many of them have a to-do list. All the hands go up. He then asks how many of them have a stop-doing list. All the hands go down. We’re jugglers, and we won’t stop even if it’s crushing us.
In the Old Testament, God didn’t suggest Sabbath, he commanded it. (He practiced it too.) Once a week, all of his children were forced to slow down. Lowly slaves, big shot traders, everyone. Sunset Friday night to sunset Saturday night they all rested. And in that rest, they remembered their Creator and Redeemer. They remembered that their productivity was not their value.
You are not your work. You are a child of God, created for more than juggling.
And if you’ve forgotten that, then you’ve just been assigned your uni-task.
So shut down the computer. Turn off the flashing screen. Put aside the to-do list and pray, right now.
Be still and know that He is God.
You’ll thank me later.