Shifting Focus

It’s oversimplifying to say you shouldn’t let your emotional and spiritual state be determined by what others say and do. You already know that. You’ve posted memes about it. But when life gets difficult, it’s still so easy to forget.

Rather than growing as you respond to God through difficult relationships and circumstances, you constrain your identity reacting to people. In continually stressful situations, you end up focusing more on protecting yourself from the negatives in others, instead of relating to them as God says he sees them.

When you keep paying more attention to what could go wrong, rather than to what God says is possible, you end up being the one who sabotages your relationships. Even positive models can get twisted out of balance, put on impossible pedestals from which your peace becomes subject to their choices. If they fail to live up to your expectations, the void left will demand you find something—anything—to make you feel secure again, which almost always comes wrapped in bitterness and isolation.

Though you may not have recognized him lately, Jesus is still where he’s always been, right there with you. Give him the freedom to speak into every part of your life, renewing your thoughts, and healing your heart. Hear what he’s saying about who you are in him, and who he wants to be for you right now. The peace, wholeness, and love only he can give will empower you to see yourself and your relationships as he does again. You’ll have the grace to receive well from good models, discard worthless words from negative ones, and to bless every one of them.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you” (Isaiah 41:10a).

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