First, a story
One of the first trips Amanda and I ever took alone, was a trip down to Arizona to see our grandpa (papa). It was the first trip we ever took solo, and we felt so grown up. At the time, I don’t think we really realized how much we learned that trip, but looking back there are so many things we learned during that first trip alone – things about airports, layovers, and dehydration. Among those many lessons however, there was something that while it really didn’t mean much to us then, has proved to be a valuable illustration, if nothing else.
Our papa lives in the dessert, there are miles and miles of dirt roads surrounding his house that are seemingly abandon. That combined with the motorcycle and 4 wheeler he had was pretty much a dream come true and we rode those bikes pretty much every day.
One of the dirt roads however, was slightly slanted towards a ditch. It wasn’t much of a slant, just enough to send you towards the ditch if you weren’t careful. Every time we tried to ride on that road – we would end up in the ditch among the thistles, cactus, and brush. It was quite terrifying and we often avoided that road – until one day, we decided to brave it.
Over and over we tried. Each time failing – only succeeding to end up in the ditch covered in thistles and scratches. It was an adrenalin pumping adventure, and a day filled with many scratches and bruises. Every time we would end up in the ditch, we would have to pull the heavy 4 wheeler out by ourselves. At the end of the day, we were very sore. But eventually, after many attempts, we mastered the “Slightly slanted” hill and managed to go beyond the short dirt road without ending up in the sagebrush.
But that lesson (among others) has stuck with us all these years.
Its really quite simple: When you focus on a problem, it becomes bigger. When you try not to do something, often you end up doing the very thing. When trying to be positive, don’t focus on how not to be negative, but instead focus on being positive.
While focusing so much on the problem – in our case it was the slightly slanted road leading to the ditch, we would end up in the ditch Every. Single. Time. But by adjusting our perspective and instead focusing on the road beyond the ditch, we were able to pass by over the slightly slanted road with no problems.
How true is this in life? By focusing on the problems, we manage to make the problems themselves, much bigger. We try to focus on the problem to fix it, but instead we manage to only go towards it, and spiral downward into the problem making it bigger than it really is. By looking at the big picture, looking beyond the problem – its amazing how some problems just disappear.
Making it personal
So often I try to focus on a solution such fixing this problem, or not becoming a certain way. But while trying so hard not to do something – I inadvertently do the very thing I was trying NOT to do! However, when I look beyond – when I change my perspective, and instead look to the bigger picture and focus on what really matters – problems that seemed so big and so significant seem to lose their value.
When I focus on my wants, and needs I tend to get frustrated. I often get hung up on small details, and lost in the day to day struggles that wont make or break anything. By focusing on the problems, I bring my perspective down and can no longer focus on what really matters. But by turning my focus back where it belongs, and focusing on God and His will for my life – the small day to day things simply don’t seem to matter as much.
Focusing on the problem is not the answer. Turning my focus off of the problem, and looking forward to the solution – I am able to “drive past the slightly slanted roads without going into the brush.” Focus on what matters, not the problems at hand. Focus on the positive instead of the negative. Look ahead, look up. And don’t forget to see the bigger picture – and remember that God is always in control, even when you lose focus.