When my friends and I get together we often talk about our minds and how forgetful we've become or how difficult it is to concentrate. We blame it on our age and the fact that menopause is right around the corner. But I know there's more to it than that. Speaking for myself, the problem is an undisciplined mind. It's something I'm working to improve.
I've spent years allowing my mind to wander. It's why I sometimes struggle to read. It's why I can't always concentrate when I'm listening to a speaker. I believe a lot of women struggle with this problem because a disciplined mind isn't something we're born with. It has to be built through teaching ourselves to focus on what we're doing when we're doing it.
A few weeks ago I was deep in thought while driving. As I approached a shaded area of the road I had to brake hard when suddenly a bulldozer appeared directly in front of me. When I was allowed to pass around it, I rolled down my window and told the work man that they should have some kind of warning posted because I couldn't see the bulldozer in the shade. He gave me a smirky grin and said, "Well there's a sign back there, Did someone steal it?"
I'm still not sure if I really missed that sign or if perhaps the wind had knocked it over but either way it's not the only example I could give. An undisciplined mind can put you in all kinds of embarrassing situations. And the inability to concentrate causes you to miss what people say. That's what bothers me most. I hate missing someone's thoughts. I hate not being in the moment because my mind is somewhere else.
The bible is filled with all kinds of wisdom and sure enough there's something in it about a disciplined mind: "Give your mind to what you are doing." Those important words are found in Ecclesiastes 5:1 I cannot allow my mind to go wherever it wants whenever it wants. I need to discipline my mind so that I pay attention, hear, and understand what's going on around me. And I shouldn't dwell on thoughts that aren't good for me.
When I catch myself thinking about the past or when my mind wanders during a conversation I have to redirect it. Sometimes it means apologizing to the person I'm speaking to and asking her to repeat what she said, but at least I'm dealing with the problem. With consistent practice I can improve my thought life. Of course I ask God to help me because He doesn't want me to have an undisciplined mind that thinks about things I shouldn't be thinking. He doesn't want me to miss pieces of conversations because that's missing life.
People underestimate the importance of controlling our thought lives. We spend a lot of time each day allowing our minds to absorb or ignore people, places, and things. And the things we ignore are the things we miss and sometimes can never get back. Our minds are what control our life experiences. A messy, undisciplined mind leads a messy, undisciplined life; that's why we need to give our minds to what we hear and what we do while it's happening. To live in the moment means having our minds with us not wandering.