I’ll admit it.
I’m guilty of seeing the weeds first.
I’ve even lost track of the beauty because I was so focused on the encroaching weeds, troublesome invaders, dying background, or what didn’t fit into my plan or picture of how things should be.
When I see possibilities, I see possible problems right behind. I’d say it was a curse to always see the imperfections in the blessing, but it’s not. It’s a habit. It’s a practice, an addiction, a testament to our ungrateful hearts and sinful souls.
So how do we change our focus? As Nike said, “Just Do It!” In fact, do it again, and again, and again until it becomes your new habit. Find the blessing in every circumstance and thank God for it. Pretty soon your entire outlook will change, and you’ll hardly even remember the way you used to approach things.
As a brand new teacher, I was working as a long-term leave replacement in a city school. Having worked with troubled youth before, I felt confident in my ability to reach all my students. One boy, however, threw me entirely off my game; he actually made me nervous. His long black trench coat, the pentagram necklace, his jewelry and clothing adorned with satanic imagery, all evoked the terrors hidden behind drawn blinds, shuttered windows, and darkened rooms. Besides, he HATED me. He would try to get into class before me to draw upside down crosses pentagrams and such on the board to make me uncomfortable. He talked about drinking cat’s blood, holding seances, and making animal sacrifices. He was rude, oppositional, condescending, disruptive, obnoxious, disruptive, and offensive all at once and I could feel myself disliking him. Refusing to ever dislike a student, I prayed. The word I got was that I was focusing on all the wrong things. I had to focus on what I did like. I vividly remember thinking that there was nothing I liked about him and wracking my brain to think of even one thing. I couldn’t; he had been utterly horrible every single day since I started, so I settled upon the one thing I might be able to find agreeable – his clothes.
It started with a blue button down. The young man walked in wearing the same awful jewelry and perpetual sneer, but this day he wore a blue shirt. Blue was my favorite color and, since I refused to be disingenuine, I was ecstatic to be able to compliment him on it. He rolled his eyes, muttering some nasty remark as he walked to his desk. I was undeterred. Every single day I looked for something about which to complement him. It started with his clothes but progressed to his jewelry, his attitude, his answers, his work, and his talents. It didn’t take long for him to stop drawing on my board. He seemed to pause a second at the door each day to hear some fresh praise. He began using his powers for good and became one of my model students. By the end of the year, though he was thriving in my class, he still struggled elsewhere. When the young man ran into trouble at school months later, he came to me to help him.
I don’t remember what the boy looked like; I’m not even sure I would remember him if I met him on the street. I do remember his blue shirt. I remember because that was the day I stopped focusing on the weeds and started focusing on the flowers.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8
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