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How do we focus on the important?
Of course, the “important’ is different for most of us and it depends on our season of life. I’m addressing here what maybe we could call what-is-needed-now-focus.
I’ve just listened to a podcast about blogging. The one point the host was suggesting was that you write about things you know about and are equally as passionate about. Many of those who commented said they didn’t have a clue. But for me, it was easy. I’ve always known:
- I had a passion to help others.
- Making money wasn’t a primary goal.
- I knew it was my ministry.
Watching my mother struggle with her depression (she refused to address it even though she took antidepressants) and then struggling with my own depression, I found my passion.
1. Our Quandry in finding what to focus on
I knew from the beginning I wanted to share what I had learned on my journey to good mental health so I started blogging. In the beginning, I did get a little sidetracked because there may be many paths to get there.
I love reading my Bible and learning about God. But I also love DIY, home decorating, painting, and reading. When I started blogging, DIYing was a big part, hence the “DIY” at the end of my blog’s name. But when I realized my pictures were never going to be as good as they needed to be, I made a choice.
1. (a) Narrowing it down
I either had to buy an expensive camera or narrow my focus. I decided to narrow my focus and do what I do best and what I know best. The “do best” is writing. The “know best” are faith and mental health issues. But I will still pop in to share a decorating venue or a DIY and I won’t worry about the pictures. Those will be my self-indulgent days.
Can I tell you how good it feels to have narrowed this all down? To finally be able to focus on what is truly important for me in the way that works for where I am in my life now.
I imagine we all face that quandry now and again. Most of us have more than one interest so it boils down to choosing the right one. But remember we aren’t talking about eliminating interests we enjoy. But if we are really focusing on what we feel is our ministry, unless we are superbeings, some things will just have to go for now.
In my case, I have decided that finishing my book and blogging are my daytime activities. Nighttime will be my time to pursue other interests.
But how did it happen? How did I figure it out. How can you figure it out?
2. Knowing yourself is important
I think the first step is knowing ourselves and that generally means looking back on our lives.
Overall, I think we humans are pretty consistent. I can remember as a young girl feeling sad for people who were unhappy. I always wanted to help them feel better. That has been consistent throughout my life. I hate to know someone is unhappy.
As a young mother it was true. As my children matured, it remained consistent. It consisted as my parents aged and became ill. Helping others has always been a big part of my life. This blog is certainly another avenue of doing that as I know what it feels like to be anxious, depressed, and afraid. And, of course, I blog about all these issues.
(However, I did learn that while I can help some, I can’t help all. Some people are determined to be miserable and nothing anyone does can change that. And it takes way too much out of us to try and rescue everyone.)
So our focus greatly depends on who we are inside and what we see in our history. Most of us can look back and see the things that have always intrigued us and made us feel good about ourselves. These are probably where we should focus. But it can take lots of directions.
3. A wider place for your focus
Let’s take me for an example. I said I like helping people. That can look very different depending on my season of life. What was once a more hands-on kind of help has changed.
Now I see that writing can accomplish the same thing and reach even more people. While I enjoyed the speaking engagements, the retreats, teaching the Bible, and all the more public venues, I always felt anxious. I knew I was doing what I should do and I was always well-received and got lots of positive feedback, but it took a lot out of me in terms of my emotional energy.
As I wrote my book, while I did feel anxious, I found if I concentrated on those who would be reading my book, the anxiety went away. I wanted my words to be such that hearts were lifted and hopes regained.
All I’ve done up to this point has been fodder for the writing I’m doing now. I feel I’ve been walking in a wide place that has allowed me many roads to take and they’ve all accomplished the same thing. It is my personal opinion based on a number of scripture references that God’s call on our lives is usually generous and “wide.”
3. (a) Examples
For example, a person is called to be a missionary but they often end up serving in different countries. Someone is called to teach but not to a specific school. We are all called to help others but it will look different for each of us. It’s that wide place where we live in freedom but are constrained by God’s love. Does that make sense?
God refers to a “wide place” here:
2 Samuel 22:20
“He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.
I understand this verse as referring to the fact that as long as we are following God’s will, there may be many different ways to accomplish His purpose. For example, my ministry in helping people as taken many different paths.
God has given us far more freedom that we realize. Sometimes, though, that freedom works against us if we are outside his will. Think of the Israelites wandering in the dessert for forty years that should have taken eleven days! That’s not the “wider” I am referring to.
It’s only a “wider” place if God is there with us.
4. The “how-to” of focus.
After we’ve looked at our history, after we’ve decided we know where we should focus, how do we actually do it?
I’m not the best person to address this unless you think someone who has no organizational skills and yet is organized is an expert. But it’s taken me a long time to get here.
So last year, I decided to set up a Bullet Journal, BUJO for short. Here’s a link to my BUJO board on Pinterest. Well, I’m into year two and I still haven’t got it quite right. But some things I have got right. I now track these items on a regular basis;
Sleeping and waking times
4. (a) Methods of focus
Also, I’ve tried mind-mapping which is kind of a flowchart only with circles. I’m a visual learner so the more I can see the big picture, the better it is for me. So one day I went to Barnes and Noble and sat there for a time drawing circles. There was a note on the table that stated one should limit themselves at a table to thirty minutes. However, after thirty minutes or so, I still didn’t get it figured out.
There are all kinds of organizing apps out there. Or make up your own. The point is to get yourself organized so you can focus. But don’t get so caught up in the fun of organizing and buying all the cool stuff, that you don’t get off first base. And maybe you are one of those rare individuals who can focus while still being unorganized. Good for you. I’m not.
So, in order to focus on that important “thing” in our life we have to do some things. We have to look at our past and get to know ourselves. We have to realize there are many roads we can take in our wide place of freedom.
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