For the past few years, I have been acutely aware of my inability to focus on what is truly important. And in an effort to shift that default tendency, I've been combing through the little things in my heart and mind that are either worthless and take up valuable space, or are counterproductive to moving me forward into the woman God wants me to be. If I'm not focusing on what's important, what am I focusing on anyway? It's a bit of an eye-opening experience.
I find it painfully easy to let my mind wander toward things that truly don't matter. For me it's worry, trying to predict the future, mom guilt, material possessions, selfish ambition/worldly recognition, finding value in what I own or what I wear, and well basically SELF, SELF, SELF. It's human nature. We default to self. We lose focus. We wander far from the ideal.
Like a loving Father, God has my best interests in mind. But it's hard to parent me when I am so unfocused on what's important. A few years ago, my then stubborn 3-year-old son gave me plenty of real life examples of this. I remember he emphatically insisted that he be allowed to buckle himself into his own car seat. "I can do it my WHOLE SELF mommy!" And if you tried to do it for him, he would have quite the dramatic meltdown. However, he was infuriatingly slow at the whole process. I would quietly (or sometimes loudly) fume as he slowly climbed into the car, then took his time bee-bopping around in the backseat, digging around for his toy car. Or reaching into the front seat to snatch my chapstick. He would chat with his sister about where we were going. He tried to roll down the window. And this long and frustrating process would go on and on until I grabbed him and told him the next step he needed to focus on. "GET IN YOUR SEAT." He would then settle himself into the seat and clumsily try to get each arm underneath the strap. "Where are we going Mommy?", already forgetting that he was suppose to be clicking the straps together. "FOCUS BUDDY", I would say. Eventually, we would get the five point harness all clicked together after many failed attempts of him trying to do it on his own.
"He's so unfocused!" I would say to myself. "Why can't he just concentrate on something and keep moving?" (Nevermind the fact that he was only 3.) And then it hit me. I am exactly like him. I am so often like a clumsy 3-year-old trying to get the simplest task accomplished but am so unfocused that it takes me five times as long as it should. I'm so thankful that my heavenly father lavishes me with grace and gently guides me back. If I ask Him for focus and a spirit that's tuned into His plan, he gladly gives it to me. But it's hard. And it's not my default.
I don't want to spend this short life wasting time because of my own inability to focus on what's truly important. It takes up precious time, space and energy. I don't want to waste time fumbling around for a "toy" when I could be focused on a task God has put in front of me. What if it's something that could change a life? What if it's something that will bring me infinitely more joy than that silly toy?
A friend of mine shared this beautiful quote with me recently and it's been on my mind ever since.
I love this. I love the idea of identifying where my mind wanders when I wake up or when I'm at rest. How can I train myself to remember God's presence at that moment? Or to align my thoughts with his best plan for me?
I don't know the answer. But I plan to keep focused on simply taking the next step. And thanking God for his patience as I make my way through life like a toddler at times....clumsy and inefficient.
Bri Carlisle is a wife and mother-of-two living in the Philadelphia area. She enjoys photography, running, diet coke, and is really thankful for grace when she acts like a 3-year-old. You can find her over at her personal blog, Woven, or on Instagram where she would love to connect with you!