Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday's Musing: Keeping Focus

Mountaintop Yoga
All the workout videos say you're supposed to do yoga on mountaintops, or on cliffs overlooking the ocean
First, the big news: I'm engaged! My boyfriend-now-fiance asked me to marry him yesterday, and I said yes. Pictures and story will be forthcoming. I wrote this post over the weekend before all the craziness of yesterday, and even though my circumstances have changed a bit, I think it still fits, so I'm running it anyways. it goes

Focus can be a challenge for me.

I am generally a pretty focused person in the smaller parts of my life. When I start cleaning the kitchen, the kitchen will be clean before anything else happens. I can work on a paper for eight hours straight in a coffee shop until it's done. I tune out just about everything else when reading a book.

But in the bigger aspects of life, focus can be much more difficult. It's much easier to jump from one task to another task instead of actually taking time to look at my life and evaluate how I'm allocating my time. It's much easier to focus on the here and now than anything else. And nowhere does this become more obvious than in my faith.

I want my faith to be the defining aspect of my life. If you asked me I would tell you it was. I would say that Jesus is my first priority. But my actual day to day life doesn't always turn out like that. It's easy to neglect my prayer life, put off the time I spend in the Word, to tell myself that tomorrow I'll have a good quiet time. It's so very simple to draw my worth from the comments my professor wrote on my paper or the affirmation of a friend or the complements of a classmate. My boyfriend's love for me is often so much easier to grasp than God's love for me. My love for him is easier to tangibly express than my love for God is. And it's easier to focus on building that relationship than it is to focus on my relationship with God.

But fortunately, just as it doesn't take more than a few moments to figure out that I forgot to put in my contacts, it also doesn't take long to discover that my life is out of focus. Anxiety worsens. Fears grow more intense. Insecurities creep in. My relationships suffer. Frustrations build. Because as much as it may be easier to focus on the here and now, on the tangible relationships, on friends I can touch and see, none of them can provide what God does. My boyfriend (fiancĂ©) is amazing and I love him to pieces, but he's no Jesus. He can't complete me. He can't give me true purpose. I cannot derive my worth from him. I cannot depend wholly upon him or I will be sorely disappointed. Christ is the one who died for me and gave me life. Christ is the one in whom I find hope and purpose. Through the Spirit I find love and joy and peace and patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I was created for God's glory. He is my Center: only in him do I find true, abundant life. If I put my hope in human relationships, those relationships will fail-- we humans are fragile and frail, selfish and greedy. Someone will be hurt; whether intentional or not, everyone you love in life will eventually die or leave you. But when my hope is in Christ and my faith is firmly rooted, I can truly love. I can give freely of myself when I am constantly filled by the boundless love of God. When my worth is secure in Christ, I don't have to fear what others think-- I can lay down my guards and enter into genuine, deep relationships with the people around me. As my fiancĂ© and I step toward marriage, we are stepping into a relationship that is meant to mirror the incredible relationship between Christ and the Church. There is no way that will happen successfully unless both of us are first focused on the One whom we are meant to imitate. 

I know this all in my head, but, like most things in life, it's much harder to put into practice in everyday life than it is to put on paper. Tomorrow I will wake up and face another day of challenges. I must choose to discipline myself, to prioritize, and look beyond the easily visible unread messages in my inbox to that which truly defines my life. It's an ongoing struggle, but an absolutely necessary one. So I will struggle on.

[And keep doing a happy dance, because I'm engaged!]

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