Focus

The older I get, the more I realize how much I resist jumping on the bandwagon. I purposefully don’t do stuff just because others are doing it. I’m really not some unique hipster. Just resistant.

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So it’s the time of year that people make resolutions. Like many, I’ve tried it and failed. My resolve lasts as long as my will, which is about as strong as my resistance to Oreos. Not long, folks. We got a care package at midnight with a bag of mint Oreos and they are half gone, 12 hours later. I shared 1 cookie.

The latest thing I’ve been seeing on social media is this “One Word”. I guess it’s a better idea than resolutions- a little easier to stay connected to a word, a theme for the year, a direction for your life.

But since everyone’s doing it…. I’ve resisted. But the idea slowly creeps up on me day after day because I NEED goals and to live purposefully and yet I hate setting goals because then I have something to fail at. I’ve come up with a few good words, but have a hard time choosing just ONE for the year. What can I say? I love words.

So in my efforts to improve my life on several different fronts, whether it’s choosing to be healthy, or to stay connected to important relationships, or to simplify the clutter, I think I have found a word that God keeps gently putting on my heart.

Focus.

I need to direct enough attention to where I am at so that the picture becomes clear. It takes time. If my attention is constantly distracted and divided, everything is fuzzy and I’m frustrated. This is how the last few years have been for me. My attention has been all over the place and hardly centered on the things God has called me to. Instead, I give half-hearted energy to my family, to my ministry, to my hobbies and I end up with half-hearted results. I truly desire to see things in their fullness. My life has such potential to be full and life-giving but I’m going to have to dedicate time and energy to the important things and pull away from the distractions.

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When I’m somewhere, I need to BE. Be present. When I’m teaching my kids, I need to commit the time and not walk away. When I’m planning for my ESL lessons, I need to be spending more time in prayer and less time procrastinating.

Shutting out distractions is not going to be easy. Those are the instantly-gratifying easy things that occupy my time and help me forget about the harder stuff, the challenging stuff, the tough stuff.

But all that stuff reaps the benefits. The distractions just waste time, and I’m watching time pass all too quickly as my boys outgrow their clothes, learn new skills and plan for high school. I don’t have time to waste.

How will I focus this year? How do I turn this “one word” into something measurable and attainable (like a goal but I really don’t want to fail at it!)

I’m going to keep up my thankful journal. My gratitude attitude needs some attention. I want to see the beauty of the day.

I’m going to look my kids in the eye when they talk to me. More hugs, less phone in my hands.

Not being so available… This one is tough. I love to drop everything if someone needs me. But my kids and their education needs me to say “no” or “later”, and focus on the task at hand. How can I teach discipline if I can’t model it?

Focus. “God, give me eyes to see clearly what you have made important in my life, and help me to blur out the distractions that threaten to rob me of the precious moments of life you have given me.”

9 thoughts on “Focus

  1. Thank you for sharing these encouraging words! So many quoteables. “How can I teach discipline if I can’t model it?” And shutting out the instantly-gratifying and doing the harder stuff instead (and more worthwhile). I haven’t seen the One Word stuff floating around, but I think I’ll just take adopt your word. Focus on the one matter at hand and the stuff that matters.

    1. It’s a cool concept, honestly- but I really don’t want to start something I don’t keep up. But I’m going to try it, keep this idea of “focus” and see if it changes some habits and maybe helps my productivity and ability to connect.

      1. I think there are words, phrases, verses, etc that can be helpful and an encouragement for a season. Defining it as a year isn’t necessarily helpful, since the seasons of life don’t follow the seasons of the calendar:-) However long God brings to it mind, that’s how long you need it.

  2. I like that word, Maggie! It is funny how things become popular & I can be on the same refusing to jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is too! But God has used words and phrases in our life the past couple years so I pray He also fills you with His focus as you trust in Him 🙂

  3. Happy New Year Maggie and to Josh and the boys too! This is an excellent post and I am going to use this idea with my parent groups! It will be a great discussion. Look, you are already effecting parents across the world! Thank you for writing on this topic! Hope you are feeling the effect your gift has on your ESL group. I know despite my procrastination and not praying enough God still does His work and I’m so thankful that He does!!

  4. So many nuggets in here!!!!
    I so didn’t know the choosing a word was so popular that everyone was jumping on the word train. Geez. I may have resisted too, had I known! My word is Muster! When I muster, I’ll pray you focus!

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