Herding cats would have been easier than trying to corral my young son’s attention. His eyes were constantly moving, taking in everything and nothing all at once. He would pace and chatter, touching whatever his hands happened across. Those hands would absently explore an item only to discard it and move on to the next, though never back to the place it was found. If I needed to impart instruction, I’d grasp him by the shoulders and say, “Stop for a minute and look at me. Listen. Are you with me?”
Fuzzy head nodding, his soft, hazel orbs would settle on my green ones for a moment before darting away like a school of fish. They would swim back to mine every so often as I spoke my instructions, but never for long. There were simply too many other things to look at and process. Our doctor said he had Superman hearing, but my words often got lost among the many distractions in his young head. Touching him and making eye contact seemed to help. A little.
I have heard of other writers asking God for a specific word to theme their year. I’ve never done that before, but feeling distracted and directionless, I decided to give it a try. Not really expecting an answer, I was surprised when this recollection of my son’s earlier years surfaced. In the strength of this memory came a sense of my heavenly Daddy grasping my shoulders and telling me to stop. To listen. To focus.
Focus. Where has my focus been this past year? Pondering this, I find that in many areas, my focus is not where it should be.
In writing, my focus easily shifts from connecting with and encouraging others, to numbers and blog stats. Then I agonize over the fact that my motivations are obviously skewed and I get paralyzed. I stop writing. I get in a funk and wonder if I should do this thing at all.
As a homeschooler I obsess over curriculum, testing, and checking off all of our little boxes on the lesson plan. I look at other homeschool moms and despair because they are more diligent, more crafty, and more scholarly than I.
Physical pain, wrinkles, and extra pounds get a lot of air play in my brain. I focus on those things far, far too often.
My husband usually gets the short end of my focus in our marriage. My love language gauge, however, is front and center. I am keenly aware of when I am not feeling fulfilled or appreciated.
And I wonder why I so often feel like Peter, sinking in the storm tossed sea.
See, I know that if my focus was where it should be, on Jesus, I would be walking on water. I would have a more balanced perspective on a great many things.
Numbers and blog stats would cease to matter. Writing could once more be done for the sheer joy of putting words in just the right order. New friends in cyberspace would be cause for celebration. Kind comments from friends and strangers alike would warm and humble me.
Homeschooling would become less duty and more adventure. Spontaneity would be welcome again, and nature walks with camera in hand would count as much as a worksheet. Tests would lessen in importance if my children were allowed to live out their passions and talents. I could look at other homeschoolers and feel just fine doing things differently.
Physical pain, wrinkles, and extra pounds could be seen as opportunities to grow. Health, not appearance would be the primary goal. I could appreciate that age brings wisdom and use it to benefit others.
My husband could be the focus of my efforts in marriage. Finding new ways to bless him would stave off stagnation, delight us both, and set the best kind of example for our children.
Sound improbable? Too much sunshine and lollipops? Maybe so, but I know it to be possible. I know this because every once in a while I actually do get my eyes where they should be. I do focus on Jesus and then my mind and my actions align to His good purposes. His love is able to be made manifest through me, when I am willing. When I am looking at Him, I no longer see the waves. I become a water walker and this life becomes ridiculously sweet.
My attention span is woefully short though, so I plan to put this word, Focus, everywhere I might need a reminder. I’m sure it will have more than one application for me this year. And I am doubly sure that my Father will have to tell me more than once to, “Stop for a minute and look at me. Listen. Are you with me?” My eyes will roam and be distracted by far too many shiny new things. But I look at my son today, nearly grown now and able to look me steadily in the eye, and I am hopeful. I am hopeful because my Father will continue to work on growing me up too.
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, HCSB)
Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. By rhamm (squirrel), and Gregory Szarkiewicz (sign)
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