Changing Focus to Change Old Patterns

When you know how the world should be run, it’s awful easy to get into trouble. If I had known years ago the trouble this prideful attitude would import into my life, I would have gotten rid of it right away. But you can learn from my mistakes, if you are so inclined.

Years ago, knowing absolutely nothing about life or sacrifices made out of love, my friend Steffie and I used to talk on the telephone for hours, criticizing our parents and telling each other how much better we were going to do once we finally found husbands and had kids of our own.

It was simple really: how hard could it be to become better parents to our own children than our parents had been to us?

Turns out, much harder than I ever imagined.

Because I often ignored all the many things my parents did right (and it was a fearfully-long list that I would have profited by emulating) and focused instead of the few things they did wrong, I grew up with a mindset that ended up crippling me on a lot of levels.

Here is that demented mindset: “When I grow up, I’m never going to [fill in the blank] like my parents did!”

Keeping in mind that I had no alternative plan, all this concise false-promise did for me was to puff up my mind with pride, while fooling me into thinking that I could somehow improve on my own parents’ parenting without having some sort of pro-active plan.

Bad mistake.

Over the years, without even trying (and often without realizing what was happening), I ended up repeating – and even magnifying in my own practice – the mistakes I had so harshly criticized in my parents.

Because (drum roll, please), reminding oneself repeated of the yucky behaviors he wants to avoid often has the opposite effect: essentially binding the critic to the very behaviors he wanted to hide from in the first place. Not only is he not able to hide: his constant criticism often acts as a homing beacon to call into his life those hated bad behaviors.

What I wish I had done instead:

The truly smart thing for me to have done, instead of criticizing the things I wanted to change, would have been to instead focus on the things I wanted to do differently.

For example, I wish instead of saying as I often did, “And I’ll never yell at my kids like my parents yelled at me!” [I’m sure none of you have ever done that—wish I had been as smart] I wish I had said to myself, “I’d like to speak to my children the way that Jesus would speak to my children if He were me.” That would have been a positive way to approach the problem, and would have given me a more cheerful approach than the one I often took.

However, once old thinking patterns have been exposed, they can easily be replaced with this new template I just described.

Focusing on Jesus allows Him to change us when we are not looking and when the pressure is off. In a word, when we worship Jesus by looking to Him as our example in all things, He is free to work in our lives.

Because we all re-make ourselves –whether or not we realize it at the time – into the image of the object of our worship.

I hope these words have encouraged you. Let me know what you think.

Praying for you (and praying you pray for me, too),


Hebrews 12:2 the first part of the verse

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith . . . .”

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