Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Focus Determines Direction

When I was 15.5 and got my driver's permit, my dad let me drive on roads with lines for the first time.  I remember well how scary it was to be driving so close to the oncoming traffic, and my dad calmly (how does he do that?) told me that I was hugging the inside of my lane and that I needed to shift toward the outside for safety.

I tried, but it seemed like I was always drifting back toward my left, toward the inside line.  Eventually--and although it seemed like this epiphany was a long time coming I don't know how long it took, really--my dad asked me "Where are you looking?"  I was looking at the lines, of course!  He calmly (again, how did he do that?) suggested that I look at the outside lines instead. 

Here's the point: when I shifted my focus to the outside lines, my car drifted within the lane so that I was much farther away from the oncoming traffic.  We both felt better, and in time I learned to drive in the middle of the lane.  The important lesson that I learned was that my focus determined my direction.  

And as an adult I still see that truth in action.  When I focus on finances, they grow on my mind until they seem like the all-consuming topic.  When my focus is on house remodeling, I automatically give less energy/time/emotional resources to my family, church, and friends.  When I recently focused on parenting as a topic, I found that my conversations tended toward that line in the road.

Where do you want your focus to be?  I want Jesus to be the direction my car naturally drifts.  I want to have books on my nightstand and blogs/sites open in my Firefox that help my heart naturally shift toward a God-focus.  When I talk with a friend and he says "Yeah, I'm reading such-and-such book and it's really challenging me to pray more" my heart sings. 

Challenge: Take stock of where your attention is taking your heart.  What do you read/watch/listen-to, and where is it taking your heart?  Where do you want your heart's direction to go?