Saturday, March 14, 2009

Out Of Focus

It just occurred to me today that I've let my focus stray, that I've forgotten to recognize uncomfortable circumstances as chances to grow. And the primary reason I've done that is because I've let my focus veer back to myself. "I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed, I'm frustrated, I'm nervous" - those are the thoughts that keep going through my head.

And really, I think it's fine to recognize how we're feeling. The Lord walked the very same earth. He knows the frustrations of being human and He understands. But the point of experiencing these things is to learn to take them to Him and let Him use these times to help us grow and become better than we were before. If we simply wallow in how we feel, we miss the point entirely. And useless wallowing is such a pointless waste of time.

But it's cold and rainy here, the perfect weather for wallowing. In fact, the word "wallow" should be included in the weather report: Overcast with a chance of rain, high probability of wallowing. Now, I'd really rather be shopping than wallowing, but since it's wet and cold, and I'm on a budget, I'm stuck at home having a battle with the blues. But in the whole scheme of things, it's a battle I most definitely should win.

Just a few days ago, I caught a little bit of the film version of The Hiding Place, and I got a huge dose of humility. The very idea of living the life of Corrie Ten Boom, along with the masses of people who suffered so greatly during the Holocaust, was overpowering to say the least. Here I am sitting in safe, comfortable shelter, watching a TV, able to do and say as I please. But there on the screen were examples of people who lost all of what we take for granted and still managed to not only keep their belief in their loving God but to cling to Him as their reason for living.

Needless to say, my "sad" story pales in comparison. It doesn't mean that I can't feel bad sometimes. We all do. But it's what I choose to do with those feelings that's important. Am I going to hang on to them, throw a pity party and gain ten pounds courtesy of Ben and Jerry? Or am I going to use those moments to remember the ways that I am blessed and run to the Lord who is so infinitely able to take all my burdens and replace them with His peace and His joy?

I guess it's really an act of will, isn't it? Somewhere along the way I have to stop letting life get me down and start letting the Lord life me up. And it starts with me taking Him up on His amazing offer: "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light" (Matthew 11:29, 30).

So hold me accountable. This is the day that I start making a determined effort to focus on Him, not on me, and not on circumstances. Every time my thoughts stray, I need to pull them back to the Lord. And hopefully, before I know it, it'll become habitual for me to be cognizant of what life is all about.


Check out Lori Roeleveld's blog for an uplifting post about a similar subject.


Lori Stanley Roeleveld said...

Wow! High probability of wallowing! That's priceless! Excellent writing, wonderful insight. I LOVE The Hiding Place. When I get really down, I remember that Jesus loved women who were slaves and women in concentration camps and if they could praise Him and enjoy Him, then certainly I can as well.

Jennifer Valent said...

Thanks, Lori. Fortunately, I took my own advice and avoided the wallowing today. :)

Ethan M. said...

Hrm. Just what I needed. Thanks Aunt Jen, amazing what God'll put in front of your face at the time you need it.

Jennifer Valent said...

That's just what I said about Lori's blog post, Ethan. You're right. The Lord has a great way of giving us exactly what we need exactly when we need it!

Ethan M. said...

Haha, sweet! Those radio clips are aweosme! "And now another life change moment." Ah, I can't contain myself! I just wanna open my door and scream, "HEY WORLD! MY AUNT'S AN AUTHOR AND

Trish said...

Hi Aunt Jen! I read a little bit of your blog! It was really great! I am going to start reading your book today!

C.J. Darlington said...

Wow. Insightful words. Thanks for posting this.

Jennifer Valent said...

Thanks, C.J.!