How I'm learning to pay ridiculous attention to Jesus
By Becky Herrington
I'm dyslexic. If you don’t know what that means, it’s like living in backwards-and-upside-down thoughts. My thoughts are straight in my mind, but when I go to write them down, they come out all wrong.
I'm also a multi-tasker. I have three screens I work off of, about 50 windows open at once, and I love to bounce back and forth on projects all day long. (Don’t worry--I'm also a huge rule-follower, so in spite of the chaos, I never miss deadlines.)
I'm telling you all of this because I need to be honest: I don’t think I pay attention to anything. You'll see why I'm confessing this in a minute. But first...
...I recently wrote a blog post about why mindfulness didn’t make me happy. With a brain that feels like a ping pong ball of constant thoughts, over-analyzing, and worry, focusing more on me (the key tenet of mindfulness) was making me very anxious.
During this mindfulness experiment, I also started learning about a concept of “paying ridiculous attention to Jesus.” Since mindfulness was letting me down, I thought I'd give it a try. Almost immediately I noticed a switch in my focus, a purpose for my life was revealed, new doors began opening, new relationships emerged, and things I'd been struggling with went away.
So here's how a girl who doesn't know how to pay attention to anything started paying ridiculous attention to Jesus
Reading. The first step that launched my shift in focus started with a copy of The Jesus-Centered Life by Rick Lawrence. Every new movement needs to start with a mantra, and this book gave my mind the shift it needed to start thinking clearly about Jesus.
Journaling. I kept a journal with me and wrote down what was happening in it every day. I have a friend who journals at a certain time of day, but I'm not that structured, so I just kept it on my person. In addition to writing good and bad things that happened, I also asked Jesus about stuff. Here’s how I did that:
B (that’s me): Jesus, what do you think I should do about X?
Then I'd wait and listen…and sometimes I'd get an answer right away, while other times I wouldn't. When I did, I'd write it down, like this:
J (that's Jesus): Stop worrying about that--it’s none of your business.
Yeah, he kinda says that to me a lot…
Listening to podcasts. There’s a ton of them out there! I like to listen to podcasts from other Jesus-followers, including Jo Saxton, Brian Zahnd, and Rickey Bolden. These people all contributed to the Jesus-Centered Bible. I also listen to podcasts that aren’t by Christians (the Minimalists, Reply All, The Gilmore Guys, and Radio Lab). Jesus shows me stuff in all of them.
Completing challenges. You know how when you spend the winter eating comfort food for twelve weeks straight and then have to do a challenge to get yourself back on track? Well, my friend, Steph, writes these amazing challenges for getting you back on track with Jesus that are like diets. They've been great for helping me focus. She has a short one that’s 7-Days of Centering on Jesus and another one that’s got 30 pages of worksheets, advice, and useful tips that can help you overhaul your entire routine with Jesus called Start a New Routine with Jesus.
Reading devotionals. Like challenges, devotionals have helped me stay centered, especially when I'm really busy and just have time for a quick reminder about Jesus. I like to read mine before bed, but you can keep them in your car, in your purse, by your bed, next to your couch, have one at work—whatever works for you. I like the short digestible chunks of things you can do to focus on Jesus. Here’s two devotions that I HIGHLY recommend: Center Your Life on Jesus and Drawn-In: A Perfectly Messy Way to Experience Jesus. For Moms check out The Jesus Interruption, looking to draw closer to Jesus in your marriage check out We: Outrageously Committed to My Marriage
Reading the Bible. If you don’t know about this Bible, you’re missing out. It’s called the Jesus-Centered Bible and my buddy, Rick Lawrence, was the senior editor of it. Rick's been paying ridiculous attention to Jesus for decades. He writes about it, he speaks about it--it’s all he ever talks about it’s central to who he is now. Rick wanted to show people how the Bible is all about Jesus, so he found over 600 passages in the Old Testament (the part no one wants to read) and how they connected to Jesus, and then he got all these other people who love Jesus to write introductions to each of the chapters so we could be inspired by their stories. I've owned many Bibles before, but this one has helped me see Jesus throughout the Bible like never before.
Gap Time. I'm super busy, which makes paying attention to Jesus challenging. But I do have these moments in my day where there are gaps. They usually aren’t enough time to do something on my task list and they happen in inconvenient places, like in line at the grocery store, driving home from work, and being stuck in traffic. I started using these times to check in with Jesus. I just say hi and ask if he has anything he wants to talk to me about, or I talk to him about things I want him to help out with. Like my friend who has cancer, my sister who's looking for a new job, my co-worker who’s trying to adopt and the embassy is stalling. Even though they're small, I feel like these gap times help me pay attention to Jesus more than I normally would.
Here's what's happened since I started doing these things...
When I pay ridiculous attention to Jesus, my anxious thoughts are relieved, my worries are erased, my strength is renewed, my purpose is revealed, and my to-do lists turn to rest. I want that for you, too! Keep following along--we’re going to continue to reveal ways that you can make Jesus the center of your life. Find out more at JesusCenteredLife.com