Where to Focus


I was helping our daughter record a short message to post on the internet. We had chosen an outdoor location at Refuge Ranch where she and her family live in Mexico and where my wife and I also live part-time. Our daughter settled down on a blanket for the recording with a profusion of wild marigolds blooming behind her. What was she looking at while recording? The camera that I was holding, of course, but just behind my camera and me was a wire-enclosed burn area filled halfway with ash and unburned trash.

Looking one direction there was a flower festooned view, while 180 degrees the other way was a view of trash. It all depends on where you focus your attention as to whether you see trash or flowers.

Can you think of a situation in your life where this principle could be applied? How about a whole lot of situations and circumstances? That’s certainly the case with me!

Our ability to focus on something while not focusing on something else goes way beyond the functioning of our eyes. The mind and heart can do the same.

The grandparents were disappointed they couldn’t take the grandchildren on a picnic because it was raining, but because it was raining they enjoyed playing games with the grandchildren at the kitchen table. A visit to the doctor wasn’t the best way to spend a good portion of the morning, but there was the opportunity to have a good conversation with another patient in the waiting room who desperately needed a listening ear and some encouragement. It was a long wait as the car was being fixed, but a great article in an outdated magazine in the waiting area would not have been read if the car had been fixed quickly. We have the God-given ability to choose where we focus our eyes and also where we fix our thoughts and upon what we fixate our hearts.

Children’s TV personality, the late Fred Rogers, remembers being frightened by some news as a child. His mother told him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Mr. Rogers never forgot the advice, nor should we!

We can focus on the trash or switch our focus 180 degrees and focus on the flowers. It’s a 180 degree switch I want to make when facing a lot of situations. You too?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

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