Milk and Honey Magazine article on choosing to see the GOOD in life (seeing Jesus) instead if focusing in the bad (which just causes anxiety)! Cast your cares on Jesus!

Shifting Our Focus

Mindy Larsen

A lesson on choosing to see the good.

Every time I look at the bright blue sky, I see a swarm of tiny, black gnats.  As I shift my eyes left and right, they follow me. It’s as if each oddly shaped little bugger is fighting for the spotlight in the center of my vision.  It’s distracting; it pulls my focus away from cloud gazing and onto the annoyance of the squiggle that interrupts my line of sight.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not exclusive to the bright blue sky.  It happens when I look at a white piece of paper or a backlit screen because these annoying creatures aren’t actually gnats – they’re eye floaters.  By definition, floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the jelly-like substance that fills the eye. They appear to be small specks, or in my opinion, gnats flitting across the sky, but in actuality they are shadows that the clumps of gel cast on the retina.

I’ve had eye floaters for as long as I can remember.  They’re not a health concern, so for the most part, I’ve come to terms with the fact that they will accompany me for the rest of my life.   But a couple months ago, I was fixated on their existence. Instead of looking past them, I started studying them. Sitting in front of my computer, I crossed my eyes like I was doing a Magic Eye puzzle.

“Has that one been there before?” “That one is definitely longer than the ones in my left eye.” “Why is that crooked one always in the middle of my vision?” Suddenly I built a bad habit; I stopped in the middle of shoveling, looking out the window, or reading a book to shift my focus from what was in front of me to the squiggle in my eyes.

One day, as I sat in front of my computer completely distracted from the piece I was working on, I got mean with myself.  “Seriously, Mindy. You gotta stop this!” Exasperated by my destructive new habit, I realized that I have two choices. One – be constantly distracted and irritated by my eye floaters.  Two – learn to look past them and focus on what is in front of me.

When we’re struggling, it’s so easy to be fixated on our trouble – the lost job, the broken friendship, the pain of singleness, anxiety, or the strained marriage– and lose sight of the good that lies in front of us. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble…” There’s no if about it – there will be trouble.  But that’s not the end of the statement.

Jesus continues on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” With Christ, we have the assurance that although there will still be trouble in this world, there is also hope knowing that He has overcome all of it.  Knowing this, we have a choice in how we can respond in light of trouble. We can live with our vision so convoluted by our struggle that all we see is pain OR we can use our struggle as the lens through which we focus on the goodness of our Savior.

That day, as I sat in front of my computer, I opted for choice #2. I stopped crossing my eyes in search of the flitting floaters and started focusing on the beauty of the world in front of me.

Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”  

It’s tempting to think that the key to peace is a lack of trouble in the world.  But this verse in Philippians tells us otherwise. In this world, there will be trouble; but shifting our focus to anything excellent or praiseworthy will bring peace.

Mindy (pictured above) is a writer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She loves donuts, the power of Scripture to combat anxiety, and cuddling on the couch with her husband Chris, and their cat, Finn. Mindy writes to encourage others with words that point towards Jesus. You can find her words in Thryve Magazine, Grit & Virtue, and (in)courage as well as on her bloggram