Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Many Questions I've Been Pondering Today

I’m not a great multitasker.

Just ask my kids. They’ll tell you I cannot . . . 
  •       talk on the phone and check email. Too distracting, on both ends.
  •       drive and listen to the radio. (Just kidding on that one!)
  •      read when there’s music on in the room.
  •       walk and text at the same time. (I’m NOT kidding on that one!)

All sorts of hilarity will ensue if I try doing too many things at once. Which is strange to me because when my girls were very little I could . . .
  •      change a diaper on one while giving a bath to another.
  •       make dinner and read books at the same time.
  •       feed a baby while baking cookies. 
Multitasking must be a skill that God gives to moms of young kids—you are all Wonderwomen!—but somewhere along the line I lost this skill. My girls became self-sufficient multitaskers themselves, able to handle all sorts of things at once.

Me? I’m happy to focus on one task at a time, oftentimes wishing I could do more. (That walking and texting thing would really come in handy.)

Sometimes, however, multitasking has its drawbacks.

Take, for instance, times when you’re with a friend who constantly checks her phone while she’s supposed to be talking to you. Not fun.

Or when the person in the car ahead of you is driving five miles an hour UNDER the speed limit because he’s on his phone. The worst!

This morning at the gym I saw some astounding multitasking that has left me scratching my head. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen—in fact, where I work out, it happens a lot.

I saw a man on an elliptical machine reading his Bible.

Like I said, I’ve seen this kind of multitasking behavior several times before. These people are probably thinking It’s early. I need to exercise, but I also need to read my Bible. Hey, I know! I’ll do them both at the same time.

But here’s what made me stop and wonder this morning. When people exercise and read the Bible, are they reading the Bible just for the sake of getting it out of the way? Or are they reading the Bible carefully, prayerfully, and thoughtfully?

I know what my answer would be. And I’m sure I can’t answer for the man I saw on the elliptical this morning, but I’m wondering . . . what do you think?

Does it give God pleasure to see us using our body, mind, and spirit at the same time?

Or does God feel like we’re just checking Him off our list when we multitask our Bible reading?

Comments, please!



  1. Hi shelly! I hope your doing well. I always love checking in on your blog from time to time :) this entry hits me at a timely moment. I find myself at an interesting juncture in my own life...three little ones, a part time job, trying to keep the house together, trying to keep our home open for family, friends, church, ministy; and for one of the first times in my life im finding it hard to find time for "careful and prayerful" bible reading, prayer, and journaling. even as im typing this right now, im nursing a baby. so...I'm not really sure about the answer to your question, but Ii think that reading the bible or praying while doing something else is better than not at all. ideally, spending time with god shouldn't be something we are dong to check off a box on our list of things to do today, but the cool thing about god is that he can meet with us and change us and love us, and shape us even as we come to him in those ways!!

  2. If it was happening before 8:00 am, that would totally be me. I can't get up earlier than that to do anything at all, so if I thought I was going to have some Bible reading time, I might read it on the eliptical. Just like I might read a book on it while exercising. It's hard to STUDY the Bible while exercising, but if I'm reading and meditating, I think I could do it. However, this would never be me because I barely function before 8:00 am... =)

  3. That's a really good question, Shelly. I have to admit that if I read the Bible for the entire time I was on the treadmill, I'd be reading the Bible for much longer than I do currently. (And, oh hey! I'd be on the treadmill, too! This also is not currently happening, so really this is all a big hypothetical for me.)

    I know people who listen to the Bible during their commute, and that seems okay. I just think maybe there are different ways/reasons to read the Word. Sometimes we read to study, but other times we read to absorb or for more simple inspiration. For the latter, I think multitasking is okay.

    However, I can't listen to music with words while I'm reading or writing. So I think I'll continue to keep my Bible reading separate from my other activities. Even when I do finally get back on my treadmill.

  4. How about taking a nice walk outside and listening to a sermon on your ipod? Is there really any wrong way to read your bible or pray?

  5. I love your thoughts, friends. I have no strong opinion about this . . . just curious as to what others think.

    Meghan! I miss you! And I need to see your cute babies. Soon??

    Rachel and Mary, I totally get what you're saying. My husband is an occasional Bible-in-the-car listener.

    Nancy, yep. Love that we can do those things!

  6. I listen to the Bible on cd in my car, but if I want to really study, I have to be concentrating.

  7. I'm amazed and impressed that someone could be reading his Bible while on the elliptical! I pretty much can't do anything at all while I'm on an elliptical machine-it seems to require more coordination than I possess to be proficient at using that machine. But if someone can do it, more power to them. Of course, sometimes we all need to sit down and study the Bible with no distractions whatsoever, because it's good for us to study it. But it's also good for us simply to interact with it in any form. I hope that he's not simply trying to check "Daily Bible Reading" off his list, but then again, what if he is? God's there, even if the guy's motives are mixed.

    Now, all that said, I do think that pretty much the greatest hindrance to our having a close walk with God is distraction. We would all do well to develop the habit of getting still and quiet, even if we have to leave some other things OFF our to-do lists. Funny that the psalmist was writing so many years ago when he wrote "Be still and know that I am God," isn't it? That admonition seems to be even more timely now than ever before.

    Keep thinking, Shelly! I love it when you share what you're pondering! :)

  8. My sis-in-law is one of the most godly, full-of-the-spirit, well-balanced women I know. And since I've known her, she's read her Bible while on her Nordic Track.Which has been a long time, because she was on a Nordic Track. She STILL has a Nordic Track, which I find hilarious. But, yes, always combines the two. It works for her.

    I have tried to read on the elliptical, but my bounces too much and I can't focus my eyes. But, if I could, I would...totally.

    Exercise for me is a total mind/body/spirit experience. I cannot separate one from the other--they all merge and intertwine. I pray when I exercise all the time. I plan my life, "write" blog posts, work through issues...and I think God is in all those things and speaks to me while I'm sweating. I listen to Beth Moore Bible studies and podcasts of sermons when I walk. I listen to worship music. Why not read the word?

    So, I think it's too simplistic to assume we can separate and segment our lives in such a way that God might not be honored or pleased when we try to combine our tasks. My question would be, is that even POSSIBLE to do ONLY something spiritual and refrain completely from engaging in any other activity?

    And isn't it all sacred when we dedicate it to God???

    And I am like you--cannot multitask with the phone or music or whatever to save my life. I can't even talk when I cook. It's sad.

    But praying? Always. And trying to get the word in me? Always.

    LOVE YOU!!

  9. Good things to ponder. And, like you, I don't think there is a "right" or a "wrong." It is all in the heart. If someone is reading the Bible just to "check it off the list" then it doesn't matter if they are at the gym or sitting in church, they have profited nothing. But some of my most desperate times of seeking the Lord, and my most blessed times of hearing from Him, have happened when I am in the car going to or from work, or in the middle of some other activity. Strange isn't it?? I think most everyone is too busy these days, myself included, so praying and Bible reading at odd times seems to be the norm. But sometimes, I do think we need to take the scriptures LITERALLY when it says in Psalm 46:10 "BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD." Giving God 100% of our time, our attention, there is no substitute for that!!! Thanks for making me think this morning :)! Blessings to you!!

  10. Great question. I think it depends on the person and their heart. I know I would rather read than stare at the others working out or at the wall. Maybe that's how he was. Maybe he has serious time with the Lord during some other part of the day and the bible is just his choice of read even during a workout. When my kids were really little, if I wanted a workout I had to do some of my reading while on the machine otherwise I just never seemed to get to it. One or the other didn't get done if I didn't combine. I know, too many "maybe" variables in my answer.

  11. Gosh, you really do come up with challenging posts. At the moment I'm reading four or five chapters a day first thing when I give Sophie her first feed. I don't think I am giving myself time to chew over and meditate on the words I read though, if I'm honest. Or maybe I do but later in the day.'ve got me thinking....again!!!

    By the way, I wanted to say THANK YOU for the really positive influence you've been on my life. I'm so grateful, and have truly come to think of you and Glenda as far-away mentors.


  12. I totally agree that the
    multitasking becomes
    harder to do without
    letting something slip
    along the way. Which
    is weird, because multi-
    tasking is supposed to
    help us accomplish more!

    I think there is soulfullness
    in really being engaged in
    what you are doing, in the
    moment. Whether listening
    to a music or a friend, reading
    the paper or the Bible, soaking
    in a tub or folding warm laundry,
    it can all be that much more
    wonderful when we give it our
    full attention.....

    Happy Sunday,
    xo Suzanne