Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What are you looking at?

Isn't it funny how we reveal what we are focusing on? Looking back at some old pictures, every now and then I'd noticed how one seemed off-centered. If I thought about it, though, it would make sense. I had a few pics of myself with some friends that were very lopsided, but I remembered that the guy who took the pictures had a crush on one of my friends. Even though she was on the end of the group, she was the center of the photo.

Of course, anyone who has ever driven a car knows the same thing--the car tends to move toward whatever you are looking at. It takes a great deal of control to look at something and not turn the wheel toward it. Some of my happiest memories are of trips driving back and forth to Mexico with my grandparents. Some of my most terrifying memories are of those same trips. My grandpa notices everything, and many times we would be on mountain roads that are all curves, not even a brief stretch that is straight, when he would gesture with one arm at birds or some particularly interesting scenery off in the distance. The rest of us would grip the sides of the truck with all our strength and implore him to watch the road. Thankfully, (I suspect angelic intervention) my visions of a fiery death at the bottom of one of the mountains never materialized.

I think this is one of the reasons why God calls us to forgive. When we allow hurts to fester, we start to focus on the very qualities that we dislike in someone else, and eventually that focus creates similar qualities in us.

In parenting, I've been challenged to stop and think about what I really want for my children. Do I want to focus on showing them Jesus? Or do I really just want them to be convenient? This morning, I yelled at Joel for making a mess, and then realized that my focus was off. He wasn't even disobeying or doing anything dangerous. He was experimenting with all his God-given two-year-old curiosity (flour, sugar, water and several cups can do a surprising number of experiments in a remarkably short time). Once I corrected my attitude and got my focus back where it should be, we cleaned the mess together and our day got much better.

Unlike my camera, I don't have an auto-focus. I have to manually stop and refocus when my priorities get out of whack. Maybe I should stick up some blurry or off-center photos here and there to remind me.

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