One summer, while Dan and I were dating, we spent a Saturday afternoon canoeing with other staff at a camp in the Poconos. Since I was the more experienced canoeist I settled in the back so I could steer, while Dan provided most of the muscle. Things were going well, it was a beautiful day and we had enjoyed the time with our friends. Before we reached our final destination, however, we needed to head under a bridge, three large pilings anchored deep into the Delaware River. There was plenty of room to maneuver safely, the gaps were probably twenty feet wide. But for some reason (and I can see this in my mind as I type) I could not keep myself from focusing on the large piling in the middle of the water. You can guess the outcome, I'm sure, and perhaps even the conversation (or lack thereof) on the way home from the outing.
But it often reminds me that what we focus on is where we end up. And how we approach life, how we THINK about life, also determines how we choose to live life. If I see most of life consisting of problems that need to be solved, for instance, I will become less of a person and more of a machine. I need to retrain myself to think about things that are working well, that are beautiful, lovely and pure and give my brain a respite.
Yesterday, during Sunday dinner, my youngest daughter talked about how she's aware that her approach to activities changes her experience of those activities. If she sees them as hard or unpleasant, she will begin to tighten up and grit her way through them, rather than being open to the good that may be awaiting her, even in the midst of difficulty.
I like the admonition from Paul in Philippians to think about what is true. What is true all around: about me, about the situation, about the power of God and the gifts of wisdom and grace. There's no question that the world is fraught with difficulties, but it is not true that the world is only broken. Nor is it true that I am called to solve all of the problems that I see, nor that my life is only about solving problems. There is a lot that is good, a lot of clear open water: sunny days to be enjoyed, relationships to develop, art and music and food to be appreciated, even successful completion of tasks to be celebrated!