I think we all watched the Olympics this summer, even if just for a little while. Most of us have a favorite part – that sport or event we make sure we don’t miss – and while my favorite summer event is probably diving, I always make sure to watch the gymnasts. I love to watch those tiny little girls fly through the air on the vault, and the way they spring around on the floor routines amazes me. There is really a lot about the gymnasts, male and female, that is astounding (especially to me, whose beginner yoga video is enough to make me cry). What always strikes me about them, though, is their focus.
These are young girls. When I was their age, my focus was fleeting at best. So many things were grappling for my attention and I had even less discipline in concentrating than I do now. In a setting like the Olympics, the teenage gymnasts have every reason in the world to be distracted. Unfocused. Spacey and unbalanced. There, though, on the world’s largest stage and with more at stake than ever, they maintain their focus and their poise. They are unrattled by what is going on around them, and are not shaken by anything going on inside them. They are balanced.
As the gymnasts do anything at all, their focus is on the task at hand. Their focus is on the routine. Specifically, as in the case of the balance beam, their focus is on the beam – and nothing else. They never. take. their. eyes. off. the. beam. They are given only 4 inches to work with, and wavering even a fraction of a millimeter in either direction means it’s all over. Taking their eyes – or their minds – off that narrow wooden beam most likely means that their dreams are over. They can afford no distractions.
Their parents call from the stands. Still, they focus.
They hear music from someone else’s floor routine. Still, they focus.
Out of the corner of their eye, they see another gymnast who they desperately hope to beat. Still, they focus.
Nothing will sway them.
That, friends, is what we need. We need focus. In my times of greatest imbalance and anxiety, close self-examination reveals that I’ve taken my eyes off of what matters the most to me and have allowed myself to get distracted.
Distracted by other people. Losing focus on the only One whose opinion matters.
Distracted by what I feel I should be or do. Losing focus on who He says I am.
Distracted by my own worries about the future or regrets about the past. Losing focus on the today that He has given me.
It is when I allow myself to let my gaze wander that I begin to wobble and teeter and totter. It is when I forget, even for a moment, where my Hope lies that I begin a downward spiral into self-defeat.
The key to balance, friends, is having a focal point that will not move. The key to balance is the ONLY focal point that NEVER moves. The key to balance is Christ.
Tomorrow: a central Bible verse for my own journey toward balance.
This is the fourth post in a month-long series on Balance. For other posts in this series, click here.
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