by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
Have you seen that meme of a sassy woman, asking men if they really want to know what a woman’s mind is like? It then goes on to compare female brains to a ‘browser with 2857 tabs open. All. The. Time.’
That pretty much sums it up for me. Our kids have told me for years that I will start a sentence/command/question and never finish it. And not only that, I don’t even realize I haven’t finished it because my brain has moved on to the next thing. After a few seconds of obvious silence—I look up from whatever screen I’m holding (and I hate to admit this out loud) or whatever daydream has captured my thoughts—and realize I’ve left everybody hanging and my words have vaporized into thin air. Our kids can attest to this fact.
This admission does not even include nighttime brain activity, which occurs between 2am to 4am on a regular basis. And I cannot turn it off.
“Browser brain” is not only annoying to others, it’s annoying to me too. I get so frustrated that multitasking becomes quickly overrated and is hardly adequate compensation for the frenetic pace of my thought life.
Can I blame this on technology? Perhaps in some cases. I do sincerely think that smartphones have contributed to my demise to a certain degree. But the technology debate is a broad conversation that is best saved for another time. (If you think the guilty culprit is your smartphone, check out Tony Reinke’s 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. It is helpful, if only for the ways he names what we’re all facing. Kudos to my friends who have wisely put boundaries on themselves and their tech habits!)
When considering our tendency to browser brain, rather than only limiting our exposure to needless distractions, we can look to the Bible and find it speaks to our issue. It tells us what to do, instead of just what not to do. And it was written long before technology had a death grip on our collective attention span.
The Scripture admonishes us to meditate on the Lord and His ways, to fix our eyes on Jesus, and to walk by the Spirit. The question for most of us is not why, but how? How does anyone do this with the distractions overwhelming us from every angle?
Christians through the ages have grappled with this question. In our humanness, we will always be susceptible to every excuse to look at anyone and anything but Jesus. This also includes good things—family, health, service—that become idols and trap our hearts and minds in a cycle of affections that cannot ultimately satisfy us.
So, for what it’s worth, here are some habits that I’ve observed over the years in people I love and respect. This isn’t a magic formula; sometimes we grow stale and must choose a fresh way to focus on God. The idea is to try one (not all at one time).
We won’t change overnight but faith is something that grows like a garden—almost imperceptibly—and then one day, there’s fruit! These age-old practices are just the act of tending our souls, hearts and minds, which allows us to leave behind our scattered thoughts in favor of unchanging truth, rooted in the Everlasting God.
Journaling—a good, old-fashioned notebook can record your fears and anxieties in past struggles and remind you of God’s faithfulness for the future.
Scripture memorization—the older you get, the harder it gets— but boys howdy, is it effective for helping us occupy brain cells with the truly important! Need inspiration? Check this out. Or, if you’re one of those people who remember all the old song lyrics from high school days, there are smart people who have set Scripture to music to help.
Music—balm of the soul; we can focus our emotions on the life-giving power of beautiful music, especially hymns, which are rich in biblical concepts and help us to think more about God and less about ourselves.
Liturgy—not an everyday concept for most of us but certainly a beautiful reminder of the everyday joys of this life that God has given. Here’s a modern-day liturgy for most every occasion—very clever indeed!
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.