REfocus: DIStraction Will Swamp Your Boat

The shallow river water sparkled, winking a promise of a leisurely float ahead.

Our boys were packed tightly in the bow of our diminutive raft, my husband was in the middle up on the oar rack, and I was folded like origami in the stern behind my husband’s back.

Their first float! A family outing on a gorgeous sunny day. It was even my birthday – a perfect time for a memory-making adventure.

Our group, comprised of four rafts, bumped lazily down the innocuous river, gazing at the fish within reach, pulling our rafts over shallow bars, and trading hilarity and cheeky advice as we navigated this unknown river.

We didn’t know what lay ahead.

We floated for an hour or so. And then the current picked up. Quite a bit.

Soon, we were telling our boys to hold onto the raft and we became focused. The morning chatter was gone.

Our merry caravan quickly morphed into safety in numbers, and we stopped at every turn, fighting raft-stealing rapids, to convene. My brother pioneered ahead and gave direction to the group about which routes would be safest to take.

The float had turned into a luge and furious paddlers would shout to the others which channels to take to avoid being spun around and swept against rocks and trees.

As we rounded a corner, my family saw my sister and her boyfriend ahead of us. We watched in horror as they got sucked to the right channel into a “sweeper” – a tree leaned out over and into the water, trapping its prey in unforgiving branches as the rushing water pounded their raft. They became tangled, nearly standing in their raft to fight their way out without capsizing. Somehow they broke free and shot down the next channel, barely able to bank on a shore.

As if in a fog, my brother’s voice came back to me “Bear left at the next fork” and I shouted at Trevor’s back: “GO LEFT!” At the exact same moment, he had come up out of this voyeur trance and banked the oars as hard as he could to get us into the left channel. We spun around but not fast enough.

To our shock and horror, the very same sweeper sucked us into its lair.

My boys started screaming for help, clutching the front of the raft for dear life.

Trevor led the fight to get us out of the tree but the force of the water bent him over backwards. Since I was sitting behind him, I was bent over backwards beneath him, unable to help my children and unable to fight the tree.

In this moment, it was as if I was standing outside my body watching this surreal episode take place. My mind could not believe what was happening.

And then, it got worse.

As we struggled in the boat – and all I could think about was not being able to reach my kids – the raft began to take on a rush of water. We were getting swamped.

Through some superhuman strength  – or supernatural intervention – or both – we too were able to dislodge from that tree trap and were propelled into the next, equally dangerous, channel.

By sheer grit, Trevor anchored us firmly onto the channel shore and the boys and I came sobbing and tumbling out of our raft onto the gravel bar.

I couldn’t even cry I was so upset. I just held my shivering and traumatized boys, thanking heaven they were back in my arms.

Never at a loss for words, I experienced a me I had never met on that gravel beach.

My words disappeared. My smile disappeared. I could not talk to anyone or even look at anyone. I went inside myself in shock that I had almost just lost my children. And on my birthday, too.

After drying by the fire, we doggedly had to continue our journey downriver. We walked as many beaches as we could. Finally, we emerged at the mouth of the river and our transportation home was waiting. I could not get out of the raft fast enough.

Good thing I am an irrepressible detective. I knew that in this traumatic event lay buried treasure.

And my life’s calling is a treasure hunter of the abundant life. My job is to apprehend the best stuff and pass it onto YOU!

And here is my birthday present that I am gifting to you:

We had the correct directions.

We had heard the voice telling us which way to go.

But we got caught up in someone else’s crisis.

We let another voice DIStract us from doing what we were supposed to do.

In so doing, we ended up following that voice.

By looking with our eyes, we allowed what we took in to overwhelm the voice inside.

And it nearly cost us everything.

Now I can hear some of you readers thinking that I’m being too hard on ourselves. After all, we were just concerned for family. But let me assure you, I understand very clearly that this experience was a warning for us and for those we serve. And I intend to grasp it, and own it, and pass it onto you – if you’ll have it.

You see, it wasn’t until we were in it and through it that we understood the gravity of the situation.

Life has a way of dragging us along if we’ll let it, you know.

If we don’t have a clear focus, and stay alert to that – and that alone – we WILL be redirected to matters and jobs and causes that are not our own. Issues that were never meant to be ours, but that we fell into through distraction.

We must allow our TRUE FOCUS – our very purpose for which we were created – to be the ONLY VOICE that guides us through life.

Other voices will continually pull on us. The demands of parenting, family, work, education, and finances will shout at us. Sometimes those matters will have a crisis of their own, just begging for our attention.

In a restored life, we cultivate and tend to all of these matters. But we don’t let them own us. That’s the difference. We don’t follow their voice. We REfocus on the voice that has set forth the way in which we should go.

DIStraction is the combination of DIS (separation) and “traction.” Traction is a pulling or drawing; it’s an attracting power or influence.

Your LIFE TRACTION is intended to be generated by your compelling purpose. When you find your unique design, the very way that you were intended to impact the world, you are drawn into the greater story of life.

When you are operating in your purpose it is not only magnetic for you, and pulls you along, it is an attractant for everyone who encounters you.

Your purpose has a voice; and it will guide you in the way you should go.

When we become DIStracted by other voices, we become separated from our intended traction and become drawn into dangerous territory. We stop moving, or worse, are swept into places and situations and relationships that we were not meant to have to navigate.

When we allow our focus to become hijacked by outside voices, we not only lose time and get off course, we start looking with our eyes.

Instead of being drawn by the great and exciting vision of our life, a narrow, issues-focused natural vision takes over and overwhelms us.

Some people never emerge from the state of being drawn into one crisis after another. Their focus is pulled from one problem the next.

On a not-so-leisurely river I learned to keep myself trained on my inner voice. The still small voice that draws me in the way I should go.

I poignantly understood that DIStraction can cost us everything, even if our involvement in it appears harmless or magnanimous. After all, we are not in an empowered position to help others if we ourselves are being drawn into chaos.

As a treasure hunter of the abundant life, I hope that you will share my birthday gift and REfocus and tear away any entangling DIStraction that has come into your life.

I wish for you and your family a brave moment or perhaps even a season – of REfocusing. A time when you can consider what voices that you are allowing to draw you along in life.

If you would like to uncover your purpose, I hope you will check out my new series “PurposeScape: A Treasure Hunt to Discover the Landscape of Your Purpose” a live series of five classes happening in October. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you.

Here’s to a restored life of focus and impact!

Your friend in the journey,

Vicki Norris

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