Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
It has been nearly twenty years since our family went from a film camera to digital, a choice that coincided with my becoming our family’s de facto photographer. As the taker and keeper of our family pictures, I’ve slowly learned what I like and don’t like in pictures. One of those lessons is that it’s better for a picture to have a clear focal point, a central subject if you will, rather than three or four competing focal points. For example, a picture of one grinning kid is better than a picture of a mob of cousins racing around the back yard. This lesson has caused me to always consider how I compose a picture as I look through my camera lens: what am I looking at, what is the subject of this picture, what is the focal point? Because where you focus your camera will dramatically shape what you see in your picture.
During this time in which we’re all facing countless involuntary changes, I’m curious about how you are viewing your circumstances. What are you most aware of? What are you thinking about most of the time? What is the focal point of your attention? For myself, I’ve decided that it’s not healthy for me to be tethered to news sources all day every day. Yes, I want to be aware of what’s going on and informed about important issues. But the outcome of constant news consumption is often either anger or fear. I don’t want to be driven by either of those.
Something else I’ve been reflecting on has to do with the following question: am I focusing on what I have lost or on what I still have? Everyone I know has suffered losses of various kinds during the COVID-19 pandemic, ranging from life and health to employment and work gigs, along with graduation ceremonies, birthday gatherings, delayed weddings and funerals, deferred vacations and special trips, cancelled family visits and reunions with friends, not to mention an increase in anxiety, depression, and fearfulness. I would certainly not discount any of these losses, which should be grieved and in some cases lamented.
But where I choose to focus my mind’s “camera eye” throughout each day will have a major impact on the kinds of mental pictures I take, the kinds of thoughts I have, and the types of feelings that develop out of those images and thoughts. So are you focusing on what you’ve lost or what you still have? My encouragement is for you to be mindful of where you’re pointing your camera, what you’re choosing to focus in on, what types of pictures you’re filling your mind with. You do have a choice concerning what your focal point is zeroed in on day in and day out—may you choose with wisdom.