It’s the last day of October, and the pecans are starting to fall a little more slowly so this might just be the last of my pecan picking parables. I hope you’ll bear with me once more because over the past few weeks I’ve realized how hard it can be for me to stay on track, to focus.
It really shouldn’t come as such a big surprise. The unfinished projects that clutter my house and home testify to the fact that I am often drawn away from one thing to go after another, but nothing made me realize it more than picking pecans.
My husband walked up to me the other day and said, “Which trees have you picked?”
I gave him a blank stare and just made a sweeping motion with my arm to indicate every single tree I’d walked past that afternoon.
Because I just followed the pecans, y’all.
I found myself singing the song “Shiny” from Moana because I was constantly drawn to the next shiny thing. Over and over again. I reminded myself of that dog in “Up” that kept going “Squirrel!”
It was really hard for me to keep from just wandering from one nut to the next.
A lot like I do with my craft projects.
Or my Bible studies.
And my blog posts.
Apparently, picking pecans is not the only area in my life that suffers from a lack of focus.
My mothering, for example.
What Lack of Focus Looks Like in My Life
This week, I’ve run from one thing to the next, making costumes for our school’s spirit week and picking up treats for class parties. My kitchen counters have been covered with one half-finished project after another. I’ve run myself ragged and dragged my family with me. (On the upside, however, I have a few adorable and easy DIY projects to share with you in the future!)
My dishes need washing, my laundry needs folding, and all I can really think about is how difficult it will be for one of my twins to walk through the doors of the school with the angel wings I made for her. (Sometimes bigger is NOT better.)
Please tell me I’m not alone. Actually, you don’t have to tell me that. I know it. We are all often in the same boat, carting kids from this practice to that one, volunteering for that project or this ministry, trying that diet or this supplement.
We all tend to chase after the next, new shiny thing, don’t we?
When what we really need is a little focus.
In all of my pecan picking, I noticed a few key ways to keep my focus…and not just on the pecans.
Having a Center Keeps You Focused
The first revelation happened when the bucket I was carrying got too heavy, and I had to put it down. I noticed I stopped wandering among the trees when I kept having to come back to my bucket.
It gave me a center point to work from so I stopped wandering so far off.
As Christians, as moms, as human beings…we need a center. If you’re a believer, Christ should fill that role. He is the one we come back to, the one who grounds us and sets the direction in which we should go.
If we stay close to him, we won’t wander too far.
And, if my improved pecan picking completion is any indication, we’ll get a lot more done, too.
Because we’ll work in the area where he is working.
When I wandered too far from my bucket, I found I would start dropping pecans all over the place because my little picker upper would get too full before I headed back to the bucket to empty it. Every time I tried to pick up a pecan, I dropped another one.
When I wander too far from Christ, my life feels a lot like that. It just starts falling apart, and I feel the edges start unraveling.
I get busy trying to keep holding all the balls I’m juggling that my energy is used in working harder than I have to. I’m not picking things up; I’m trying not drop them.
It’s exhausting. Just like dropping five pecans every time you try to pick up one. Unproductive and pointless and painful. My aching back is a testament to that.
Focus Helps Us Find Our Way
You should have seen the look on my husband’s face when I honestly couldn’t tell him which trees I’d been picking. He just said, “How are we supposed to know where to go next?”
Without focus, it’s easy to forget where we’ve been and lose sight of where we’re going.Without focus, it's easy to forget where we've been and lose sight of where we're going.Click To Tweet
One day, many years ago, a friend and I were driving through the African bush. We were heading home from a friend’s house but turned right when we should have turned left.
We were lost.
Like, the road turned into a footpath lost.
My friend just looked at me like, “What now?”
I looked around and found a mountain I knew and told her, “You see that mountain? To get back to Nairobi, we need to get that mountain from this window to that one.”
So that’s what we did. We drove until the mountain that was in the driver’s side window was in the passenger’s side window.
And we found our way.
Sailors follow the north star; we followed Mt. Longonot.
Christians need to follow Christ.
Now, when I go out to pick pecans, I walk up to a tree and put my bucket down. Then I pick all around that one tree until I get back to my bucket.
It keeps me on course.
Christ does the same. When I follow him closely, he sets my course. He defines my purpose and helps me fulfill it. I don’t wander aimlessly from one thing to the next.
When I don’t? Well, it’s not pretty or productive.
How to Keep Your Focus on Christ
So how can we keep our focus on Christ?
- First, spend time with him. Now, I know that seems obvious, but I also know (from experience) how much easier it is said than done. I often get up and get started on things like typing this blog post before I stop to study the word and the day just goes on from there, and I promise I’m running ragged by the end of it.
- Second, set goals. Just like my goal when picking pecans is often to get all the way around one tree, to keep our focus in our lives, in our parenting, and in our homes, we need to set goals and go after them. Spending time with Christ helps us set the right goals. (I’m Trying: Confessions of a Mom Just Making It & Prioritizing not just the good, but the goal)
- Pick with a purpose. This goes hand in hand with setting goals but digs a little deeper into why you set a certain goal. What’s the point behind it? Consider formulating a mission statement of sorts then see how your goals line up with it. I did this at times when we were homeschooling. It helped me to focus on the things that mattered most to me and to our family, allowing me to sift through all the things we COULD do to find the things we SHOULD do. Again, Christ should be the center to which we keep coming back.
So, I’d love to know, how do you do it? How do you keep your focus on Christ? How does that impact your life day by day? Leave a comment and share some wisdom and insight with us!
Michele Morin says
Sitting here with a huge grin on my face, cuz I’m just “followin’ the pecans” myself today. Oh, how we need to look up and pay attention to the big picture. It’s so easy to lose our way.
I love this pecan parable! I definitely feel this way in my faith (and also my cleaning habits). It helps to have regular times in the week that are focused on Christ, like my weekly women’s Bible study. Every Tuesday it reminds me mid-week to get back to the center.
As much as I don’t like pecans, I have loved your pecan lessons. I don’t do a great job on many busy days keeping my focus on Christ. But your suggestions will help. laurensparks.net