One of the things I've had to learn throughout recent months is the importance of what my focus is on any given day.
As God has worked in my life recently, there has been one situation that hasn't quite been resolved the way I wanted it to be. ONE situation. God is doing incredible things in my heart and life and there is one situation that isn't turning out the way I wanted it to. Now, truthfully, it is (to me) a pretty big deal. But still, it's one situation. So, instead of focusing on what God is doing and how He is working in all other areas of my life, what do I do? I focus on the hurt and pain of one area of my life and carry that with me on a daily basis.
So it is, that the rest of my life is colored by my reaction to the one situation on which I choose to focus.
I guess at the end of the day, I can choose the defeated feeling of things that hurt not working out the way I want or I can look over at all God is doing and be genuinely encouraged by it.
I don't want to discount any hurt or pain I've felt over the past few months, and I definitely don't want to be calloused towards the truth that sometimes life hits us with stuff for which we are not and could never really be prepared for. However, more often than not we have a choice. We have a choice how long we will let hurt and pain control us.
It's the same way with those of us who struggle with pasts that we are ashamed of. If we constantly focus on our mistakes and failures of the past, we get stuck there, never truly moving forward in our lives.
There's a hymn that says "Turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of this world will grow strangely dim." I find that as I focus on Christ and His work in me that the weight of the guilt of my past and the shame of mistakes fades away. I find that the bad days are bearable. I find that my smile is in reach because the things of this world have grown strangely dim and what really matters is Christ and His work.
It seems almost too simple. It seems almost un-Christian. It seems unbelieveable, but the journey is more bearable, pain is less potent, mistakes are less crippling, all because I choose not focus on the pain or mistakes.
If you're hurting, if you're struggling with the shame and guilt of a past you can't seem to shake, then shift your focus. The enemy will try to disctract you any way he can, but as you learn to focus on Christ and "look full into His wonderful face," you will find that the things of this world truly do "grow dim in the light of His glory and GRACE."
There's that word again. How marvelous the grace of God! He is at work in us even when the enemy is trying to work us over. He is at His best on our worst days. He is comfort in the midst of pain. He declares us innocent even though we plead guilty.
So I choose to focus on God and His work in my life. Do I have a past? Yes. There are things in my past of which I am very much ashamed. Do I have pain? Yes. There are things that hurt me daily. How do I feel about life? God is so good. Because I serve such a good God, I can't walk in sorrow and depression. As I focus on Him, I find His joy is truly my strength and His peace, though it passes my understanding, gives me the ability to smile.