On Squirrels and Shiny Things

Becky St. Clair
On Squirrels and Shiny Things

At one of my previous jobs, I was part of our campus CERT: Community Emergency Response Team. My few classroom training sessions taught me what would be expected in the event of a large-scale crisis in our community, what our biggest risk factors were, and tips on being an effective part of the response team. I even got a backpack stuffed with emergency supplies, which to this day I still have within easy reach, should I ever need it.

It also meant I had the opportunity to participate in a disaster drill. 

On that day, I and my fellow trainees reported to a staged emergency situation. People scattered across the scene were in various states of “faux” shock and injury; some had even spent the morning with makeup artists applying fake blood and bruises for a truly realistic experience. 

Despite knowing it was only a drill, my adrenaline was through the roof. I knew no lives were really at stake, but realizing that someday they might be drove me to focus on the task at hand as though everything I was seeing was real. I had a job to do, and I had to do it well.

Having received my assignment, I grabbed a hard hat and took off in the direction I’d been pointed. All along the way there were people pretending to cry, calling out for help, and responders moving with intention. I plowed past tarps and tables, focused only on the area I’d been sent toward. 

I then heard a familiar voice calling me urgently. I turned and saw a friend headed toward me with a furrowed brow. 

“Someone is badly hurt. We need your help!” my friend said, gesturing. I hesitated; I had been told to report to a completely different area, and they needed me too. When my friend urged again, I agreed and followed him around the building. When he stopped, I looked at him, confused. “Where’s the injured person?” I asked. 

My friend grinned at me and shrugged. “There isn’t anyone. I was just told to distract as many responders as I could.”

Though the disaster drill was memorable in many ways, the biggest lesson I learned during that experience was through the sneaky thespianism of my friend: Beware of distractions. 

Like my desire to help the (fictional) injured person, not all distractions are bad; it could be the ministry I volunteer for pulling me away from my family, or a valuable professional opportunity keeping me from spending personal time with God. But if I’ve paid attention to Christ’s training, teaching me what my focus should be and where I should be headed, those distractions—those squirrels and shiny things—won’t be successful. I’ll continue toward the place I’ve been called to serve, disaster (and distraction) averted. 

Becky St. Clair is a freelance writer living in California with her husband and three children. She has a decade of experience in public relations for the church, and currently writes and copy edits for various church entities around the world. 

Becky St. Clair