My call to change came in the middle of Walmart. I had a white, faux wood blind for the bathroom window (I settled on 30 x 64 because I, employed for years as a decorator, had forgotten for the umpteenth time to measure the window) in my arms on its way into my cart when the very clear, distinct thought occurred. “You’re focusing on the wrong things, Jill.” I paused, blinked, and tilted my head. Huh?
“You’re focusing on the wrong things.”
Okay, this was way too clear and out of the blue. On top of that, I had this just arresting feeling. Like everything around me stopped and I had to think about this. Hmm. I paced a bit back and forth in front of the shelf, pretending to peruse the sizes again, trying not to look like a weirdo.
Again, “You’re focusing on the wrong things, Jill.” Okay, is this me or might it be the Holy Spirit nudging me? I mean, it’s just a blind. Okay, it may be the whole bathroom thing, but really, it needed to be painted, but yes, it is turning out to entail more work, time and money than I realized. But I’m at Walmart for Pete’s sake. I did my homework and this blind is the best bargain out there, not like I’m spending too much. And I’m not going to paint the cabinet even though it would look much better. I drew the line there. But, maybe…it’s not about the money or the painting, but the focus. The focus.
Well, I have a gazillion things on my plate yet I’m trying to get the house ready for a two week visit with my daughter and her family. Not that they care about the house, but I like to set goals and I set their arrival as a time frame to accomplish a bunch of stuff around the house. I’m on a roll. The focus.
Wherever this thought originated, it was a good one. One I need to deal with, think about, and then resolve. I knew all this in one simple blink of an eye. However, and this is a really painful, honest, loaded however, I was also in the middle of my own forceful impetus forward to do. Get this done. I didn’t know how to stop it in that moment and switch gears. I paced a bit more. No, I wasn’t ready to let go of anything I was doing or delay a purchase. There was no stopping me at that point. I was committed to that blind and getting the house done. I put it in my cart. And, I continued on to Home Depot to get more switch plates that I’m slowly swapping out.
But the thought continued to grip me. When I came home, I put the blind in the bathroom corner and left it there. The switch plates remained in the bag. That’s not so much to my credit, however, because life had a funny way of forcing that. You see, I’d been to the dentist before I dashed to Walmart. I’d had a root canal, which was not fun (and of course at Walmart I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in years when I couldn’t even talk straight – we both laughed at my attempts!) and the anesthetic was wearing off and I couldn’t do a whole lot anyway. Except try not to think about the pain and just let my body rest because it really doesn’t like
hates root canals.
So I had time to think
focus more on focus. Reality is that those gazillion things on my plate aren’t really all that many but they feel that way because the most important things on my plate require change. More accurately, they require more change. You see, I’ve been working on making healthy, wise changes in my life, in relationships and situations, and it’s been hard work! I feel so drained sometimes, because of that hard work, that I look for distractions. To some extent that can be good, but I think that wake-up call in Walmart was about how I’ve been letting those distractions take over. I love to decorate, fix up and make superficial changes that make me feel as if I’ve finally accomplished something. It’s physically taxing, dents the budget a bit, but it gives a lot back. It’s fruitful. A great way to get things done. Besides, some are really necessary. Or so I pretend. But one project (no thanks to Pinterest!) seems to beget another project. And pretty soon I’m kind of lost in projects. Distracted you might say. Uh, huh. Total loss of focus on what’s important.
That was yesterday. Today, I “just happened” to read Hebrews 12 – this book in the Bible is really one of my favorites – and it spoke of laying aside every weight and sin that clings so closely to us…here it is:
…therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Do Not Grow Weary
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
What was once my pleasant distraction from the demands and stress of change really did become a weight, pulling me forward into more of the same. Not that decorating is wrong to do! But, like any pleasant distraction, I let it shift my focus off the work at hand.
Hebrews 12 inspires me to get back into the “endurance” part of trusting in God. I feel like I need to make a list of those things that weigh me down and those sins that cling so closely to me. I’m going to write them down, one at a time, each on its own piece of paper. Acknowledge their reality. How they’re affecting me. And then I’m going to “lay them aside”, really. Set them to the side, maybe toss them in the garbage can, (recycling is too good for them!) Then I want to make a short list of what I am going to focus on wholeheartedly, trusting God to help me with those things I’m avoiding. I want to face up to where I need to be making wise choices so I don’t stumble where I’m weak. Next I’m going to go run, even if it’s just up the stairs, but do something to visibly say, “Yes, I want to run with endurance and strengthen my feeble limbs and get back on track. I so want to focus on what’s important.”
I wonder, when that blind does get put up, years from now will I look at it and remember that moment in Walmart? I sure hope so.