Thursday, June 9, 2011
A New Focus
The list of things that have gone wrong is long, painful, and too personal to air at this time, but my own dirty laundry and sad stories aren't what I want to discuss; it's yours. Trust me, we'll come back to mine at a different time, but for now - where is your own focus? Is it on everything right in your life? Or, is it on everything wrong? Did you know that where you keep your focus is where you're going to live? If you're focusing on the bitter, nasty divorce you're going through you're going to stay bitter and nasty in how you act and talk. Long after your divorce is final, if you're still focusing on it, you'll still be living it. If you're focusing on the drug addiction you can't beat, you're going to stay beat. If you're broke and focusing on the bad economy, you're going to stay broke and angry over the bad economy. What about your weight? If you're struggling with weight (as I am right now) and focus on what a struggle it is to lose those pesky five (or maybe more) pounds, then you're going to keep struggling. If you're focusing on how badly your teenager acted at school last week, then you're going to stay angry with him. Get out of last week and move into the moment. No one controls your focus but you, and if you say that you can't concentrate because of how terribly Bob treated you this morning, then you're letting Bob run your thought life. Change your focus.
Instead of thinking about how your soon to be ex-husband (or ex-wife) is yelling obscenities to you over the phone, focus on how God is going to transform your pain into healing. If you love God, then He will work everything (everything, not just some things) out for your good (Romans 8:28). Instead of thinking about the drug addiction you can't beat, focus on a future free from drugs and start to see yourself as sober. As long as you term yourself an "addict" you'll stay one. Add "recovered" in front of it and you'll start to see yourself that way. Focus on sobriety, not addiction. Instead of thinking about how broke you are and how bad the economy is, focus on how rich you are in other areas and commit to better budgeting practices. Instead of focusing on how miserably un-fun dieting is, direct your mind to the payoff. Focus on the reward of weight loss, not the actual act of weight loss. Instead of thinking about how poorly your son or daughter behaved in school last week, focus on what a gentle heart he or she has. Don't let your mind stay in last week where they made mistakes. Bring your mind to the present or else you'll miss what they're doing right today.
It's tremendously easy to say, and much more difficult to put into practice, I know. The answer? In all things, put God first in your mind. (Proverbs 3:6). I'm sure you've noticed that it's not easy to change our focus simply because we want to. I was recently in a set of circumstances that imprisoned my mind. I couldn't think of anything else, and every attempt to redirect my focus only made me think of it more. It was a case of hope meets uncertainty, and my thought life had been reduced to thinking of nothing else. I desperately wanted to shift gears and relocate my thoughts, but couldn't. It took God's help, and whenever you realize it's time to change focus, you will need His help too. If you don't know whether or not you need to change your focus, then ask yourself if you're happy. Are you smiling more than you're crying? Laughing more than you're yelling? If you're not, then take a focus check and ask God for the strength it takes to redirect - and it does take His strength to change our focus, especially from a negative to positive. Let the following scriptures help get you started:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. --Isaiah 41:10
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength --Philippians 4:13
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast (on You) because he trusts in You. --Isaiah 26:3
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Image taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/giagia/162262166/