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48 – The Power of Focus
What are you focused on in your writing journey? What’s your focus now? Today? Join us as we explore how much the proper focus can empower and encourage you.
Things move slowly in the writing industry. Like the speed of half-frozen sap. Which means that as writers we’re often waiting for things to happen tomorrow, or a few months from now, or more likely, waaaaaay down the road.
We’re waiting to finish our manuscript. Waiting to hear from our critique partners or beta readers. Waiting to hear from an agent we’ve submitted to.
We’re waiting to hear from an editor. Waiting for a contract. Waiting for a royalty statement.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Or maybe we’re in a season where we can’t write as much as we want to and we’re waiting for that season to be over.
The problem is when we focus on the future we lose sight of the tremendous treasure and importance of today. Too often we place our worth in what we accomplish rather than in who we are in Christ.
As writers, most of what we accomplish can too easily feel tied to what happens down the road, when that book reaches a reader. Or when the next book gets published, or whatever. But God values us today for who He created us to be. He values us simply because He chooses to value us, to delight in us.
- Zephaniah 3:17 says “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
- Isaiah 43 says, “For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…you are precious and honored in my sight and…I love you…”
Problems with Focusing on Tomorrow
- When we focus on tomorrow, we don’t place enough importance on doing what matters today. Which means we don’t do as good of a job on today’s tasks. We don’t give them the quality attention they need. We’re not in the moment, we’re in the future somewhere. That doesn’t allow us to give our best to what we’re doing right now.
- Being too future-focused makes us more easily discontent with today. It opens the door to frustration, complaining, and comparison.
- It also opens the door to worry, anxiety, and fear. What if these good things we’re hoping for and waiting for never happen? Or we focus on all the things that can go wrong. So many terrible things we worry about or fear are the things that NEVER happen. Worry eats up our valuable energy and becomes a powerful tool of the evil one to keep us exhausted, or worse, keep us in bondage.
- We should say that this also applies when we are stuck in the past instead of focusing on today. We’re hanging on to regrets, frustrations, hurts. That’s just as detrimental.
- For those who may be struggling in a deep hard place, in a place of trials, God is giving you––moment by moment––the grace to get through. Moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour. It’s tempting to keep looking for tomorrow when our suffering may end, but we’re missing the beauty of His sustaining grace today. We’re missing that gift in this dark place. We’re missing the opportunity to give Him glory for how He carries us every moment. To bring Him glory by acknowledging our great need for Him. We’re not meant to live apart from Him but in dependence on Him.
Focusing on today helps us:
- Overcome worry and conquer anxiety about tomorrow
- Move beyond the scars and bondage from our past
- Prepare for whatever will happen tomorrow by laying a proper foundation today
- Make the most of the gift that is today
- Learn to rest in God’s presence with us today, and in the sufficiency of “daily bread”
- Do what matters most today to make today matter. Little things count. All big things are made up of little things. Yesterday is done. Tomorrow may never come. What if today were your last day alive? We aren’t promised a tomorrow. I’m not saying you run out and do everything on your bucket list today. I’m saying spend some time thinking about what really matters most to you and to God, and do that. As writers, we don’t have to finish the book today to make today matter. We have to write well today.
- Obey God, do His will for today. This brings glory to Him, and that’s pretty much our only job. Today we have a relationship with God. We have a God who wants to be with us every moment of every day. Who has promised to care for us and our daily needs. Consider these verses from Matthew 6: “Do not worry about your life… Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…”
- Focus on going deeper with God. Dig in with Him every day, every moment. Sometimes we get this idea that we have to move in a forward trajectory, when really moving deeper is what we need instead. It’s not like only one direction matters––God isn’t bound by our sense of direction.
- Rest in the worth God has given you simply because He loves you. You don’t earn His love or approval by accomplishing tasks. Micah 6:8, sums it up: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” This is about attitude, about the way you go through life. It’s not a list of tasks to accomplish.
- We so often focus on WHAT we do, and don’t spend as much time thinking about HOW we do it. What is our attitude? Are we patient? Are we submissive? Are we filled with grace? Are we merciful? Our character is what’s important, our accomplishments are byproducts of our character. There’s nothing wrong with goals and accomplishments, but they should grow out of what’s important today.
God is blessing us in the here and now with His gifts and His presence, but we miss the good He has for us in that because we’re looking for something that’s going to happen down the road. Imagine how different our life would be if we were simply delighting in Him, in His gifts, in His presence. Let’s make that our focus everyday!
We want to hear from you!
What challenges do you find with focusing on today?
What helps you make today matter?
The proper focus can empower and encourage you on your writing journey!
Karen and Erin,
Thank you for this timely podcast. So many gems were shared that I have already listened two times, and will listen again.
I recently joined a small and amazing critique group. Working with them has helped in two ways. It is improving my writing. And I have gained a new confidence.
With this new view of my work I have become impatient with myself to finish a book I have been working on. The problem is, I am not a fast writer, but I am learning to be consistent.
God did not make a mistake when designing me, so my slow writing is not a problem for him. I will slow down today, play with my kids, write some, and yes, listen to this podcast again.
Thank you the inspirering podcasts you provide!
Wow! Two times! That’s focus! Thanks so much for letting us know.
Michele, I totally sympathize. Sometimes I think I just might be the slowest writer ever. But like you, I have to understand (over and over) that I am what I am by God’s grace and design. Praise be to Him who doesn’t make mistakes. Who designed the universe and every tiny particle in it, and knows the path of every moving thing–both the fast and the slow. : )
Karen and Erin, I love listening to you two. I giggled when you suggested we do whatever it is God calls us to do each day. Would you believe I made a pattern for a kitchen apron while enjoying this podcast? If you saw what horrible shape my old one is in, you’d agree that even the Lord shakes His head each time I put it on. 🙂
Balance is what I hear God calling me to. The power went out last Friday afternoon and evening, and I got a taste of what I’ve been missing—down time.
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac
Ah, down time. So very much needed in all of our lives! I’m glad you got some, even if it was forced. : ) I love that you made a pattern for an apron while listening to the podcast!
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