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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

When life is out of focus, check your lens



Have you ever done or said something so totally wrong...so foolish... so uncaring that after it's out you wish you could go back and press the delete button?

I have...at least once a day. Most times it happens in my own head, where no human bears the brunt of my stupidity. In my foolishness I believe that I can think what I want and no one will be the worse for it...until those thoughts overflow and burst forth like a machine gun, spraying their harm over anyone within range and causing great damage.

God knows that I wish it weren't so. He and I have been talking about this "thought thing" and how important it is...for my sake and the good of others...to get a hold of what's going on inside.

Remember last week's blog about Pollyanna? Maybe that blog was a precursor to this one...I don't know. But since I wrote it, I have been asking God to help me see the people and circumstances in my life more positively...more hopefully. Like  I said to my daughter the other day, "Thirty years ago I was positive. But at 60, I'm cynical."

And I don't like it. Not at all.

So, I've been trying to turn things around...to look at life through a different lens. Not rose-colored per se as Pollyanna sought to do, but one that removes the haze and and adds clarity to the picture. Basically, I've been asking God to allow me to see life through His eyes and not my own.

And let me tell you, it is a challenge!

Let's take driving for instance...


Here in the Charlotte area you take your life in your hands on the highways. I don't know why we have such challenged drivers here but we do. The other day I was out running errands, trying to get them all done before the rush hour traffic began. That alone is enough to raise your blood pressure! But it wasn't until another car raced past me...and I mean raced...that I found myself ranting things unfit for the daughter of the King. It was then that God prodded me: "How do you know they're not on the way to the hospital? Or that they just got a devastating call and need to get home right away?"

My response? I doubt it, but hey, we'll go with that. And that one thought changed my whole attitude. And possibly saved my life because road rage doesn't usually end well.

Now if I can do that with unknown drivers, shouldn't I be able to do that with the people I know and love? Give them the benefit of the doubt? Extend grace? Yes, I should. But I don't always.

Instead my thoughts can take a negative turn and then I begin to see falsely and act incorrectly.

And that leads to the whole root of this struggle: Pride. Pride that I am better than others. Pride that I have all the answers. Pride that I am in control. It's so easy to lift myself up and put others down.  And wasn't that Satan's downfall? God have mercy. In my heart-of-hearts I want nothing in me to look like him.

In photography, as little as I know about it, I do know that you need a focal point...one place to focus on in your field of view. This allows you to make adjustments so the picture is clear.  And that's how it should be when I look at others. If I'm not focusing on them according to how God sees them, I will use my own fallen lens of correction...you know, the if only lens, the they could have/should have lens, the unforgiving/unkind lens.

And that always...always...throws things out of focus, often triggering thoughts and words and actions that can cause great harm in others and cannot be undone.

You know the analogy of trying to stuff toothpaste back in the tube once it's out? Just like that.

Oh wretched woman that I am! The things I want to do, I don't do. And the things I don't want to do, I end up doing anyway. Day after day after day.

It is such a battle to be sanctified! The flesh fights sanctification on all fronts, seeing it as a merciless taskmaster rather than a kind schoolmaster. The flesh will lead us onward and then beat us up when we arrive. It delights in watching us flail ourselves when we fall short and get it wrong. It tries to hide the truth that each of us...this side of Heaven...will fail at times. We will fall short of the glory of God. It's only pride that makes us think we will not.

So the question is, What do we do when we sin...when we fail? Not if we fail? When we say something we shouldn't and there's no delete button to take it back? When we do something we shouldn't and it can never be undone? Do we take up the whip of condemnation and beat ourselves? Run for the nearest comfort food and over indulge? Binge watch TV in an attempt to blot out the scenes that keep replaying in our minds?

Yes, sometimes we do.

But thank God there is another option! We can fall on our faces before God in repentance and recognize that sin and failure can be God's tools of mercy towards us, allowing us to see ourselves in humility and strike another death blow to pride...time after time after time...until we finally get Home. In a way that only God can, He turns the tables on what was meant for harm and redeems it for good.

So I want to encourage you today...if the lens you are using is causing life to be out of focus, change it. It may take time, but don't give up! We will spend a lifetime making adjustments to be sure we are focusing correctly...that we are seeing others as God sees them. Getting our focus right will mean a world of difference in how we see and treat others.

And be humble...extend grace...live a life of hopeful expectancy that we are a work in progress and He will not leave us unfinished!

And that's my note of encouragement to myself and you today! I pray it is a blessing!

Shine on dear ones!





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photo credit: Thank you, my friends, Adam! <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/101289507@N04/27383965359">Dangerous Landing</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>