My sister and I love to shell together and I learned a few tricks from her. She helped me identify coral, sponge, worm shells and others. One day she suggested we change our focus and look only for very tiny shells. She held one up as an example. What a difference that made to our finds. Suddenly that was all I could see – miniature perfect replications of the larger shells we had just been finding.
Later that week we drove a few miles further south to Casperson Beach in Venice, Florida. It is well known among fossil hunters that shark teeth and other fossils can be found on the beaches of Venice. Later I bought a book to help me identify what I found and how best to find them. But this first day we were armed with nothing but curiosity and a willingness to try.
Fortunately we had made the acquaintance of a seasoned shark tooth hunter and he accompanied us to the beach and showed us how to find the coveted teeth. It was addictive. There is one little trick that helped a great deal – know what you are looking for. There are lots of little black rocks on the beach and in the water but once you know what a fossilized tooth looks and feels like, the other would-be fossils quickly become plain black rocks.
Over several weeks, I gained proficiency in finding not only sharks teeth, but other fossils as well. I learned the best time to hunt and what kinds of tools work best. But if I could give you just one bit of advice it would be this – know what a tooth looks like before you go. Touch them, turn them over, know their shapes and colors, learn to recognize the shine of fossils. You will see what you train yourself to see.
In the same way, we see in others what we train ourselves to see. I shared last week that I am reading The 30 Day Kindness Challenge and one key to success is found in this little statement: you will find what you focus on in your person.
My husband and I are traveling with a group of people from the company where he works. We have been on this particular kind of trip many times over the years. I confess, I’m not always patient and kind with my husband. I easily feel overwhelmed, overlooked and left out. I begin to resent traveling with 300+ people. Hey, I’m just being honest about this.
But I want this year to be different. I want to be kind and generous with him. I want him to know how much I care about him. So, I need to change my tactics.
Last night I read the 7 ways we are negative. If I’m going to do the challenge, I better know what constitutes negativity. Did you know frustration and eye rolling is negativity? And how about that impatient tone? And what about my “you’re stupid” voice that sneaks up on me in a second? The author was pretty specific about what is negative. So, I’ve got a lot of work to do.
What if I employed my shelling technique in the next two weeks? What if, instead of just looking at the beach and seeing sand and water, I narrowed my vision to focus only on the treasures? The tiny shells, the sharks teeth, the stingray tail barbs, etc.?
For the next two weeks, I need to sharpen my vision and look for the positive. Even seemingly little things, like this morning during our 15 hour flight to Hong Kong when he retrieved my carry on from the overhead storage bin. Rather than focusing on the negative, my personal challenge is to see as many things that he is doing right, the ways he goes out of his way to show me kindness and respect. I wonder if I’ll miss the things he “doesn’t get right”?
I have to ask myself how seriously I take Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:8 when he says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” If I truly want to be a kinder person, I need to focus on the positive rather than the negative. And then to seal it, I need to let others know that I noticed the excellent in them. And I’ll start with my husband.
What do you focus on in others? Do you like what you are seeing? Are you finding the treasures? Or are you discouraged because all you have in your bucket is black rocks? Try this with me – change your focus. Instead of noticing the things your person isn’t doing, notice the things he/she is doing. And then tell him/her you noticed and appreciate it.
We will compare notes in a few days but until then…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.