Everywhere I go lately, I’ve been followed by this one word– “Focus.”I’m not entirely sure why or what it means, but I’m excited to find out.
For the past 5 years or so, God has been intentional about giving me a word or two every October which guides the next year of my life. This year, however, he didn’t. It was really frustrating to be honest. In the past my word(s) have been my compass in many ways. Words like fear, freedom, peace, holy-spirit, and more were things I distinctly held on to and learned about for a year at a time. They guided my train of thought, my questions, answers, and so much more. It was particularly special for me to have a specific word that I could safely latch onto when I was feeling overwhelmed. It helped me, well, focus.
When God and I started playing this “game,” if you will, it was October 2011. I was coming out of a season of hurt and that month in that year proved to be an immense time of both brokenness and healing because it was the first time that I fully surrendered to God’s power in my life. Having God sweep me off my feet with his intentionality in October was a really sweet thing for me. It was exciting to know that every October would be an altar in which I could look forward to being reminded of God’s powerful and continuous redemption.
But this last October (October of 2015), there was no such thing and the disappointment I felt left me wandering. I prayed often in the months to come, telling God about my frustrations and concerns as I felt like I was free-drifting through this unknown space we call life. Finally in January 2016 I felt him firmly and clearly telling me “We’re done with that.”
No more October memorials. “We’re done with that.”
It was exciting to hear from him but it was also incredibly disappointing to hear “We’re done with that.” What if I didn’t want to be done? Huh? What if I was struggling and needing help and I felt like the Lord was not helping me in ways that I could understand? What if being “done with that” causes us to drift further apart? All of these questions raced through my mind and caused me to live in a state of further confusion. Eventually I realized that I had to choose to be content with his choices and live in faithfulness, though these thoughts still lingered at the back of my mind.
All of this to say, I’m feeling particularly grateful that, though it wasn’t October, in his faithfulness, the Lord has given me another word over the last few weeks that I feel called to lean on for the next year or so of my life. The word is focus. I was reading something a few weeks ago and the word just seemed to jump out at me. “Hm,” I thought,”Focus. What does it really mean to focus?” I asked. Seeing that it was such a brief thought, I dropped it pretty quickly. The next time I encountered the word, I was hiking with a friend. I was explaining how “I think if we just focus–” At the very moment the word was coming out of my mouth, I looked up and saw a man passing us, wearing a shirt that said “focus.” That moment struck my attention but once again, I didn’t take it too seriously. Then the exact same thing with people wearing shirts that said focus happened three times later that week! Eeach of them were wearing different shirts and I saw them all over town, right as I was thinking or talking about focusing. Eventually I realized I cannot ignore this, so I looked more into what it means to focus, the importance of focusing, and how I might apply focus in my life. For at least the next year, I intend to make it a theme.
As I’ve examined this word, I’ve been surprised to see how immensely I lack focus. I sit down to write something and I end up on Facebook. I start off telling someone a story, I forget what I was saying because of another thought that caught my attention. I have so many goals related to my faith, fitness, finances, friendships, family, field, and fun, that I don’t accomplish because I don’t have enough focus. I write down my big-picture goals on a regular basis. Goals like “raise x amount of money,” “weigh x amount of pounds,” “join x organization,” so on and so forth but my S.M.A.R.T. goals are intended to help me reach those big-picture goals are constantly changing. I have no consistency and no focus.
This lack of consistency has lulled my momentum and heightened my anxiousness as I am increasingly unable to tell the difference between things that are or are not important. Distraction hurts creativity— a skill set which is very important to me. Distraction damages self-esteem, boundaries, and relationships. We live in a world of distraction. Especially in the age of internet where we have articles constantly telling us about 50 Ways You Didn’t Realize You’re Ruining Your Life, 70 Ways You MUST Make Your Already Good Life Better, Did You Know Eggs Have Too Much Protein? and the like. We bounce from one skill and idea to the next because we take it all in. And it’s our responsibility to take in everything, isn’t it? We have to be reading articles about how to better improve our lives, don’t we? Wouldn’t we be irresponsible if we had access to techniques we could apply to our lives that we know can make us better but refuse to employ it? We have to keep learning about new ways to do everything because the times are rapidly changing… right?
We need to focus on doing a few things well rather than doing 50 things better. God is not concerned with efficiency. If he was, I could name at least 20,000 things he would have done differently in creating mankind.
I need to focus. I can’t keep drowning in a sea of scattered thoughts and distracted worries. I don’t know where this journey of focusing is going to take me, but wherever it is, I know that it will be good. I can’t wait to step into this adventure and I’m excited to take you with me.
Are there areas of your life where you need to apply more focus? Is there a different word or two that you could/should/are focusing on for a certain period of time? Let me know in the comments below!
Live, learn, love, and leave a legacy,