Every morning while I’m up early and getting ready for the day, I receive a text. This text is from a podcast listener who I now mentor. As part of her morning routine, she texts me her word for 2022 and her mantra. She is faithful and always right on time. This is how she begins her day, remembering her intention and commitment for this year.
This morning when that text came in, I felt the promptings of God tell me that her word is what he wanted me to share with you today. Okay cool, so I sat down with her word, and I began to study it and what it means in scripture.
The word is ATTEND: By definition it means to be present.
Oh dang, doesn’t that just get you? Woah, couldn’t we all use more of this in our lives? To be more than just here, but to be actually present. To be fully here in each moment, savoring the life we have been given to live as it unfolds.
I don’t know about you, but my body can be in one place, but my mind can be in 10 different places. And when this is happening, I know none of these places are getting all of me, and therefore no one is getting the best of me. Now of course, God knew this when he created us. He knew this would be a struggle. He knew we would be divided in our focus, pulled in our time, and distracted in our living. So you know what he gave us? He gave us a built in warning system to alert us when we’re here, but not really present. An alarm to bring us back to being here, in one place, fully. Present. To ATTEND.
Understand your God-given warning system so you can respond with urgency. What is it? It’s that YUCK feeling. It’s that discontent down deep within you that questions if there isn’t really more for you. It’s that slight feeling of disgust knowing you gave less than your best because you only showed up with a 1/4 of you, the other 3/4 of you was distracted with other things. It’s an echoing emptiness.
This yuck, this discontent, this disgust, that’s not your brain malfunctioning, sending the wrong signals. Nope, those are all the correct signals! It’s an alarm. The warning system is going off. You’re not supposed to feel good when you’re living this way, this isn’t your design. Something is wrong and you’re being alerted to it.
Do you remember in the past when your perfectly good television show would be interrupted by a local test of the emergency broadcast system. You knew the minute would be filled with horrible, annoying, loud horns and sirens repeating for entirely too long. You’re screaming “we got it, it’s working!” You couldn’t ignore it. You couldn’t sleep through it. It was alarming. And it was supposed to be.
Girl, I know you would love a sweet little blesseded alarm that shows up in the voice of Paula Dean and says “darling, you’ve gotten just a scooch off track here. Now maybe you would like to come on back where the gettin’s good and attend to the life you have been given.” But the good Lord knows that’s not going to work with you. Nope, only the annoying alarm will work. The one that makes you feel bad at the end of the day. The one that teaches you a lesson you don’t want to have to repeat.
The problem is, we’ve taken these God-given alarm systems within us and we’ve tried to hush them. We medicate them. We baby them. We label them as some sort of dysfunction. No, that’s not a dysfunction, it’s actually functioning perfectly. You’re not supposed to feel good when you’re not living good. You’re not supposed to be satisfied when you’re skimming through life. You’re not supposed to be happy when only 1/4 of you is showing up for the happiness.
The alarms are blaring. Alarms to bring us back to being present in our lives!
Proverbs 4:20-22 reading in the KJV “Attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”
Attend to my words, God says. Life is found here. What does that mean? It means lean into his teaching. Don’t just passively hear it, but be fully present to receive it. ATTEND to it. Attending to God’s teachings is both an intent and an action. It is both seeking and finding. What will you find? Life. Not only life, but the life which Jesus came to give us which is LIFE TO THE FULL. (John 10:10)
If life has felt a little less than full, a little lacking, a little disappointing at the end of the day, and a little less than thrilling at the beginning of a new day, understand you’re missing the FULL LIFE Jesus is offering you. The offer is there, are you leaning in for it? Are you attending it, or are you only half-way here, passively hearing, but not fully engaging? The result will be a life that is not full, but instead feels a bit empty.
ATTEND. Be fully present. Lean in. Actively engage. Intently seek. The alarms have been ringing to bring you back to this way of life, and away from that scattered, distracted, noisy, nonsense that has you feeling empty.
Attend to this my sister.
Now later in this same chapter, Proverbs 4, we read a scripture that seems to be specifically written for the year 2022, just waiting for us to unfold. Verses 25 & 26 MSG “Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you.”
Oh, those sideshow distractions. They’re everywhere, aren’t they? We get distracted, we wander off from where we are and allow our mind to be separate from our body. We stop the journey of going where we most want to go, and settle for something less along the way. We no longer give the gift of our presence because we’re not fully present. And where does that leave us? LOST AND WONDERING WHERE TO GO NEXT.
Is this how you feel? Lost? Not sure of what the next right step is? Confused about the direction and uncertain about the choices? Could it be because you’ve been looking at all the sideshow distractions and you’re no longer attending anything fully? God’s word says ATTEND to his teachings, lean into what he is showing you, listen closely for his guidance, and if you will resist the offer of distraction, the road will stretch out smooth before you and you will know what to do next.
For some of you, you’re only passively listening and this isn’t making an impact. Literally right now, it’s going in your ear, but you’re only hearing, not intentionally listening. For others, you’re truly attending these words. You’re leaning in. You’re actively seeking and applying, and for you the road has just stretched out smooth before you and you know what to do next. You know to stay focused. You know to turn off the distractions. You know to lean into the moments where God has you so you can see where he is leading you next. The sideshow distractions just got cancelled and you’re on your way to attend the main show.
And now you also know perhaps those feelings of emptiness and discontent aren’t a sign of your brokenness or illness, they’re your God-given warning system turning on the alarms to say “how you’ve been living is not how you were created to live.” This doesn’t feel good because it’s not good. Respond to the alarms by making an intentional change. And I bet you will see, you start naturally feeling different.
Today, we ATTEND. Fully. Intentionally. Lean in and journey on to the main show. The show of the life God created us for, and settling for nothing less.