Friday, August 12, 2011

Focus, and Focus Well

Sometime after all the dust of Christmas begins to settle and the New Year is on the horizon most of us look back at the previous year, take stock, evaluate, regroup and make some goals for the upcoming year. It's a good idea to keep these things in mind, maybe even in written form somewhere, so we don't forget them, and revisit them from time to time. Life starts to happen and even spiral out of control sometimes and we forget our goals if we haven't noted them somewhere.

With that in mind, this being a bit past mid-year, it's time for me to take another look.

This year, instead of making lofty goals that I may or may not achieve (probably wouldn't achieve if the truth be told, and then I would feel bad and flog myself and feel like a loser) I chose a word that would be my theme, the hinge pin of sorts, for 2011. My idea was that this word would color all the decisions I would make throughout the year. It needed to be something that would encourage me to continue to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually (not physically, thank you very much! I've grown way too much in that regard and need to shrink! LOL). It needed to be something simple that would encompass the areas of my life that I wanted to address over the months of this year.

The word I chose was focus.

Where is my focus? Do I have clear goals and purpose? What is that purpose? Does it line up with God's purpose for me? Are the things in life that I'm pursuing furthering that purpose? What do I want to be doing in December of 2011? How have I been productive? What exactly has my life produced over the year?

I made a decision to simplify my life in any way I could, and dedicate myself wholeheartedly to whatever I was doing. The scripture tells us in Colossians 3:23, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men..." .  I wanted every single decision I made, whether that be concerning my attitude, thoughts, or actions, to be purposeful and intentional.

This is a huge challenge here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's an area dedicated to materialism and commercialism. Culture and lifestyle here is a one hundred and eighty degree shift from living in southern Spain, the most recent place we lived prior to here. People in Spain enjoy their lives. They aren't caught up with 'stuff,' or making more and more and more money. They are generally content with what they have, they work to pay the bills and provide for needs, but they aren't running here and there and everywhere consumed with the rat race of life. It's a very relaxed, happy, family oriented culture. It's a much slower and enjoyable ritmo de vida. I can't speak for other areas of Spain, but where we lived, on the southern coast, right on the shore of the Mediterranean, people had a passion and love of life that I rarely see here. In the summer time the beaches were filled every day by mid afternoon. Folks took care of the necessary affairs of life as quickly as they could, and then spent the rest of the day enjoying being alive. They didn't have a lot of 'stuff,' and didn't feel a need for it. They weren't so consumed with making their way in life that they forgot to enjoy life!

What a sad legacy it would be to have lived all my life striving to do and have more and more and more, so much so that I forget what's really important. Am I enjoying my relationship with Jesus, or has what I do for Him become an obligation? Am I enjoying my family, or have I allowed so much selfishness into my heart that they irritate me? Am I noticing the small joys of daily life or am I too busy being busy that I forget those things? Are my friends more important than my stuff? What am I focusing on? To what am I applying myself?

Did I notice the way the edges of the clouds turn silvery pink right before the sun comes up? Did I notice the way my cat runs to greet me when she hears my car drive up (I know...she's a weird cat. She sometimes thinks shes a dog. She even plays fetch)? Did I enjoy the process of creating a healthy tasty meal or just throw something on the table so we could hurry up and eat and move on to the next thing? Did I help that young mother on the sidewalk trying to get her stroller over the curb and in the process meet someone new? What am I focusing on? I am guilty of letting all these and more totally pass me by, but this year I have been applying myself to focusing on the task and hand, completing it well, and living more in the present moment that wishing for something else.

I don't want to be so caught up in busyness that I forget to be content. That's really the issue right there. Is what I'm focusing on bringing contentment or is it making me wish for more and more and yet more? And do I focus completely on the current task and complete it well or am I so scattered that do a half job at everything? And perhaps the most important question of all: Is God pleased with the focus of my life?

'Cuz really, that's what life is all about anyway.

I'm not sure where the original image for the picture for this post came from, but I found it here.

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