Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Staying Focused

This morning was perfect running weather, cool and fallish, without being too brisk.  I started out with a fast pace, reveling in the fact that it felt good, and admired the vivid pink of the sunrise on the horizon.  My thoughts were happy and full of praise for a lovely morning. 

I continued my pace as I rounded a corner and it was then that I noticed a guy on the street to my left, passing me.  I watched him, mainly because it was strange to see somebody running on the street (maybe I was being a sidewalk hog?).  I think it might have been one of my brother's cross country buddies from college, I've seen him running around this side of town before.  It goes without saying, that I had nothing on him for speed. 

He sprinted past me on his long antelope legs and within moments I daresay he was 100 yards ahead of me--and the gap was widening.

Suddenly I felt stubby, winded, and slow.  Technically nothing had changed.  But before, I had been keeping my focus on my task at hand and doing it well.  When he passed me I now had something else to focus on--his widening lead--and the happy thoughts that had previously filled my head were now being replaced with "trash talk."   Things like "Wow, you are slow!" and "What a disjointed stride you have!"

Do you see where this is going? ;o)

So many times in my life I find myself content, happily going about my life and jobs, carrying out the tasks God has given me, living the life he assigned me to live.  As long as I keep my focus on what is within my reach and capabilities, things go well. But when my gaze starts to wander? The trash talk begins . . .
"not rich enough--pretty enough--thin enough--talented enough--smart enough--clever enough" Blah, blah, blah.  I've thought them all at one time or another (or all at once . . .).  I'm going to venture to say every time I have thought such a thought I was comparing myself to someone else.

And the life that was bringing me joy suddenly loses its rosiness and discontentment rears its ugly head.  Discontentment is poison and has ruined many a good thing.

Thankfully, it is a poison with a cure~gratitude.  I have to (so very often) reign in my thoughts before they start traveling too far ahead of me, bring them back to what I have.  What I have I am very grateful for.  I remind myself to stay steady here--in this place--my spot on the journey.  Sometimes it is so lonely and it feels like I'm being passed on all sides with an intensity that makes my head spin. I have to remind myself of I Thessalonians 4:11 "and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you." Or of Hebrews 12 (which fits with my running analogy quite nicely) " . . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus . . ." Note it didn't say "fixing our eyes on the ridiculously-fast-runner-that-you-would-never-catch-even-in-your-peakest-form." ;o)  But fix them on Jesus, the author and perfecter. 

My little life journey is just that, mine.  The only way I can do it well is keep myself narrow and focused--not analyzing everyone else's journey.  The same way watching antelope man become a fading dot on a distant horizon did nothing to help my own run.  ;o)  So, in summary, this is my long-winded way of saying:
Don't compare
Be content
And don't pass me 


Kathryn said...

I love these glimpses of your heart! Thanks for sharing this as it encouraged me right where I'm at, too!!! Chin up, dear friend and keep those eyes focused on HIM!

Mike and Kirsten said...

Love this post Janna.
p.s. I just spent 45 minutes catching up on all your posts. :) I've been out of touch from the blog world for awhile...but I'M BACK! :)

Mom said...

Excellent post. Colossians 3:2
And that gratitude book is great! Love you

Anna said...

Oh thanks for the reminder!! This is so good, I think gratitude and praise can correct a lot of ungodly attitudes. So true that God has blessed us all in different ways and ordained our lives and time to be spent in a certain way (to some degree, I'm talking with child-rearing)..anyway, hugs to you, dear! I'm praying for you in this difficult/busy stage...

Brooke said...

Wow. JUST what I needed today. Thanks Janna!

Myra said...

I came across your blog from the Inspired Room and just have to say that I needed to hear the message in your post. Thanks for sharing!!!