I share this issue because I was feeling overwhelmed with anxiety for too long and not even sure why. For some reason, the word “focus” came to mind and I remembered a passage from my memoir, Beyond the Visible Edge. So, as an introduction, here’s that passage…
“Experience with horses had taught me about focus. A rider’s focus gives direction to the horse. If my mind dwells on a fearful object ahead, my horse will likely become nervous. But if I calmly focus on something safe beyond that object, my horse will often walk on by. If I worry about a problem, that problem becomes my focus. If I meditate on God’s Word, He draws me closer—and I can focus on His presence in my life. My focus on God is my connection to His guidance.
We can easily lose focus and become distracted by losses, by circumstances, and countless human issues. While mourning the loss of my son, my attention moved away from a thankful trust in God’s all-sufficient provision. I felt overwhelmed and fearful. In spite of God’s many blessings, I’d lost focus on God as the unseen Source of my hope and strength.”
APPLYING THE PRINCIPLE OF FOCUS
Another post on this website is about using a sofa as a learning experience with my mare Lady—a good example of using my focus to help Lady walk past that scary sofa. Now, I need to apply that same principle to my own fears.
I need to remember to not look at the scary circumstances of today’s world as the total picture, but to focus on God’s Sovereign wisdom. Look beyond the struggle, to trust in His victory. Look beyond your own strength to believe in His. And spend time reading His Word, being in His presence, to allow Him to encourage you.
THE SECRET IS GOD’S PRESENCE WITHIN
I look back over the past few years and I see how easily I have lost focus on God. Sometimes it’s very difficult to regain that focus, when frustrations and fears and human emotions overwhelm me. A simple pill may help for a short time, but it never solves the real issue and it doesn’t deal with the root cause of the problem. Only God’s presence within can produce the calmness of a deep faith in His provision and power.
One of my favorite Scripture verses is Colossians 1:27, and I favor the Phillips translation: “And the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with Him the hope of all the glorious things to come.” If I am a Christian, Christ lives in me through His Holy Spirit.
LEARN TO SEE THE BIG PICTURE
There are many reasons we lose focus. We haven’t actually lost it, by the way; it’s just on something different than it should be. Something has grabbed our attention and everything else is lost in the background. Just like a horse that has seen a monster, we can only see that one thing. Sally Swift would say we are using “hard eyes,” something like tunnel vision.
Sally Swift was the riding instructor who founded Centered Riding principles. She taught about using “soft eyes” that look up and out, using peripheral vision to see all around you—seeing the big picture not the one detail that seems larger than it really is. It takes practice to learn to see with soft eyes, to remember that one scary detail is not the whole picture.
If we could see the whole picture, we would see God’s hand somewhere in the background. Human eyes, however, are not always open to what He is doing. Remember that God is able to work things out for good, and His love is greater than we can imagine. Sometimes we just have to trust His heart, until we see what His hands have done. And sometimes we must surrender to His will, even when it is uncomfortable.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Have you ever lost focus on God in your own life? What made that happen? How were you able to refocus on His presence?
From a practical viewpoint, here is a suggestion if you feel anxious and you aren’t sure why. Make a list of the possibilities that could be causing those feelings. Quite often, when I hit on the right one, something inside me whispers, “YES! That’s it!” And then I can look for Scripture verses that deal with that issue.
Very recently, I happened to read the words of Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” I suddenly realized I knew the secret to peace. “Whose mind is stayed on You,” simply describes my faithful focus on God. Losing that focus is a sure path to anxiety!
Related Post : The Tyranny of the Shoulds
On the same topic by another author: Overwhelmed? A Message Most of Us Need to Hear