Five Minute Friday #24 – FOCUS

I link up with Lisa-Jo on Fridays for a writing flash mob…throwing caution to the wind and gathering to share what a few minutes of free writing can buy.

Today’s topic: FOCUS

GO.

I stood at the bottom of the hill and it was steep and high and I wanted to quit before I even got started. But something in me wouldn’t walk away this time — something said to press on and that I could do this and to just go for it.

I pulled my hat down low and turned up the volume on the music and kept my eyes on my feet. And I never looked anywhere but my feet the whole time. I huffed and I puffed and my calves and quads and glutes were burning but I just kept. pressing. on.

Soon I was at the top of the hill and as I turned around to look, I could see everything. Rooftops and treetops and little cars and little people. And everything I left behind at the bottom of the hill seemed so insignificant. All the laziness and anxiety and quitting and giving up had lost its power in just a three-minute climb.

When life gets hard I feel like I’m at the bottom of that hill — focusing on how high and how steep it is, and I think about how much it’s going to burn and hurt to get to the top, and is it really worth it? But once I’m at the top I realize it always is — because when finally summit, my breathing evens out and my muscles are strengthened and for the first time I can finally see.

The only way to climb is to pull my hat low and keep my head down and keep my music in. No distractions. Focused solely on the actual the step I’m on. Because then all I have to do is take the next step and that is always more attainable than simply reaching the top.

STOP.

Quitting

I quit.

Life was getting too chaotic and too pressured, and the things that were a priority were slipping and sliding like a squealing child on a water slide. I wanted to enjoy the ride, but had a gnawing sense that I was on the wrong one.

There were times I could get a grip, stop myself from getting too carried away. But it was just momentary. And left me with slight burns on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet.

The slide wasn’t bad. Individually, each twist and turn was good. But combined, it was a lethal combination of distraction and lack of focus. My priorities only got my leftovers, never the full breadth of my attention. I hated that. I wanted to enjoy the fullness of the ride, and squeal with delight and not frustration.

So I quit. I listed all the things that I enjoyed but weren’t fitting into the swift direction of the slide I needed to be on. It was hard — the people-pleaser in me protested with accusations of “you’re irresponsible!” and “what will people think?” and “you’re just being lazy!”

I agreed with them most of the time.

But I quit anyway.

God says in Psalm 81:10, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” To me, this means that God commands us to position ourselves to receive first, and then He will provide. Like He’s waiting to give, but I haven’t made room for what He wants to give. I can’t get a new couch if I don’t have a living room for it first. I can’t get joy if I haven’t let go of bitterness. I can’t get the main dish if I don’t have a plate ready.

So I opened my mouth wide and quit. And you know what? God is filling it.

I remember what it was like going down the water slide as a child. Swishing and sliding back and forth while zipping down as fast as I could imagine. Not really knowing when it would end, when it would plunge me into the pool and I’d be fully submerged under water. It was that not knowing that made the slide so exciting. The excited anticipation of each twist and turn, wondering, is this it? Is it now?

Since quitting, joy has returned. And the things God has placed before me as priority are getting my best, not the leftovers. And they’re flourishing. And the slide is fun again. I’m squealing, and with delight. I’m not trying to stop myself along the ride anymore. No more burned palms and feet. The unknown of when I’ll be plunged into the fullness of His plans is exciting. Is this it? Is it now?

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:25, NLT)

What do you need to quit today?