“Focus, Silas, focus,” seems to play like a broken record around our house these days. Off to accomplish the simple instruction to brush his teeth, which should be a quiet affair, when I hear singing and the bathroom counter has become the little drummer boy’s drum.
Instead of yelling from the kitchen, I decide to look him eye to eye. The focusing lecture spills of my lips and Silas’ innocent serious face peers back at me, he is up on his tippy toes with fist clenched tight to his chest, “but it is so hard,” he replies. “All I can think about is Christmas!”
Silas is not the only one with focus problems. Helping out with extra projects around the church, concerts, recitals, extra practices, shopping, unplanned doctor’s appointments and working in that last hair appointment. Then there is that baking spree we didn’t have time for, but did anyway. Now to bag, wrap and deliver along with personal notes of gratitude and appreciation.
My mind has been swirling in so many different directions; one thought collides into another. As I process and plan and try to remember all the things I am sure I will forget, stress begins to creep up my back and my jaws begins to tighten.
As the countdown to December 25th gets closer the fullness of the schedule tips the scales. Sitting at a red light today, I whispered a prayer of desperation, “I can’t do this.” I heard, “focus.”
Focus is a simple word yet a powerful word that can change the direction of our attitudes, if we will allow it. Emmanuel, God with us, we hear this often during the Christmas season. The name of our Savior and a reminder that we celebrate this season the choice that our Creator chose to become like us, be with us, live among us.
Focus is a shift in our attention to concentrate on a particular thing. Silas needed to focus on brushing his teeth. I also need to focus on the task at hand rather that the multitude of other task fighting for priority on my “to do” list.
Focus – a shift in our attention to concentrate on the One who is with us, the One who is with me. At every stop, before every meeting and store and appointment, I paused. I thanked God for what had just occurred and invited Him to join me in the next moment.
God is with me, but it is my choice to focus on His presence in all I do. So together we went to a hair appointment, a meeting, to Hobby Lobby, a doctor’s appointment, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, and then to pick up kids, dinner and more. With every pause, every choice to acknowledge God’s presence with me in all that I did, my thoughts did not collide as much, the stress crept up less and the jaws were not as tight.
With this type of focus, I experienced joy. It was like a buffer to all the traffic and people and the coming and going and the list. I am not so sure that Christmas can be stress free. Perhaps the problem is that we focus too much on the stress, what causes it and trying to avoid it.
Focus less on stress, focus more on Emmanuel. God in the moment now. God with you now. Go ahead, start right now. He is already here with you, you only need to shift your focus to Him. With every shift of your focus, a fragment of stress dissipates.
(This is one of my top 3 post. Written last year, I thought it was worth a repost. We all can use a reminder…or at least I know I can!)