"I realized when I was driving that I pay more attention to the potholes than to the other drivers around me."
Potholes are a pretty frequent topic of conversation pretty much anywhere you go in Peoria. If you've driven there recently, you'd understand. If not, well.. let's just say like God, they're everywhere.
Me and potholes.. we don't have a good relationship. A few weeks back, I wasn't able to swerve enough to avoid one and ended up with a flat. Yeah, we're not the greatest of friends. And yes, I too pay more attention to each and every pothole now.
It's funny how life has a way of keeping our focus on certain things and what we choose to focus on. Our focus is 100% under our control, though some thoughts take more conscious effort to think on than others.
We see a pothole coming, we're going to focus our eyes on it.
We see a potential issue arising at home, in a relationship, at work, and it becomes all we think about.
We're stressed, angry, happy, bitter, in love, anxious- whatever the emotion- it can take over our whole demeanor.
There's a sign up on one of the main roads in town that says "Rough Road." Okay, you're warning us that there's rough road ahead, but why not go ahead and fix it instead?
Wouldn't it be great if in life we could get an alert to our phones when tough times were ahead? That cued us in on anything out of the ordinary that was coming up.
Alert. You're going to get a promotion.
Alert. You're going to have a rough Wednesday morning. The kids are going to be going bonkers. You're going to be stressed from work. And the craziness will cause tension between you and your husband.
Alert. Your friendship has been under a little stress, but it's all going to dissolve this weekend after an open and vulnerable conversation between the two of you.
Wouldn't that predictability make life a little easier? I'm not sure I would even like that though, because then once I got the alert, I'd probably focus on whatever the Rough Road (or Smooth Road) was until it came to pass.
That's kinda how life is though, right? We go through things, good and bad, and they become the center of our focus.
We hit tough times. We get stressed. We get anxious.
Everything seems to be rainbows and butterflies. We focus on how great we're feeling.
When we're navigating the smooth and rough terrain, how do we keep our focus on remaining positive, keeping our head up, staying joyful, regardless of the type of Rough Road we encounter?
Anxiety, comparison, pain, lies, uncertainty, fear, insufficiency, pain.. things that have at one point or another had a hold on me in my life. I'm no expert, and I certainly do still struggle with things, but what I've learned through the highs and lows is this.
1. God never fails. He always provides. He's everything I need. He loves each of us so much.
The thing is.. people are going to hurt you, situations are going to be less than ideal, and we're going to feel like failures and undeserving and unworthy at times. Friends, family, relationships might come and go, waiver and excel, but He remains constant. Whenever you're experiencing those moments, lean into the truth that He still loves us the same- and keep your focus on that. We may be lacking, but in Him we find fullness. He's faithful and He will provide. It might not be in our timing or anything like we had hoped or anticipated, but His plans always exceed our human minds.
2. The people you surround yourself impact you more than you realize.
Surround yourself with positive, encouraging, uplifting people, you'll find yourself thinking that way- about yourself, about situations, about anything that pops into your mind. Be in a crowd of negative, discouraging people- their thoughts and words will become your thoughts and words. I'm around the same 5-9 people every single week, some days lots and lots of hours, and you know what i've noticed? Even when I'm not around them, I can hear their voice in my head. Depending on what I'm doing, some will be encouragement- "Lets gooooo, you've got this. Keep going. One more." Some will be reassuring- "fear isn't of the Lord, remember that. God has great plans for you." Some will challenge you- "He shows us we are selfish in ways we didn't know and asks us to give that weakness to Him and let it be for His glory." Some will encourage you to lean into His courage and boldness- "He needs you to trust Him when your palms are sweaty and you don't know what's next."
People have always said.. who you surround yourself is who you become. How they think, how they talk, what they do... you'll begin to see yourself in them and them in you. Proverbs 23:7- "As someone thinks within himself, so he is." Remember, God created you with a purpose, in His image. Focus on that, believe that. Surround yourself who remind you of who you are, who you want to be.
3. Ultimately, you have the power to control your thoughts.
If you find yourself pondering on something that doesn't align with what you believe, with what you have dreams and goals for, in negativity, in fear, you have the power to change it. If you realize one of those thoughts drifting in, fix it instead on what you believe to be true. How do we do that and what should we think on instead?
What will you focus on today and into the weekend?