Following on from deciding where to go the other day, we decided we would in fact, try something new.
We ventured out to the South Lakes Zoo as admission was free this time of year. I think its great that most organisations allow babies free entry as I’m fast becoming aware that although you may have an exciting day ahead planned, the likelihood is, that baby will barely even stay awake for the duration! Thus the logic- babies go free. Just happened to be a bonus that adults were free as well!
Upon arrival, we soon discovered the zoo was in fact, a safari. Not any old car safari either, oh no. A safari where visitors walked and interacted with the animals as they roamed around the zoo. Carl and I were ecstatic- more excited than Ava! She really didn’t have a clue.
So we made way for the beginning of the safari, bouncing with anticipation and curiosity!
Not wanting to miss the opportunity to capture these memories, I immediately asked Carl for his camera. I mean how often is it, particularly in this country, where you have the opportunity to come so close, almost face to face, with wild animals? Practically less than a foot away and free from cages and fences? They were tame to say the least which we were thankful for- particularly me with the camera.
The whole duration, I took photos and Carl would often shout me over ‘ Cheryl come look at this! Cheryl, look!’ Sometimes followed by, ‘Ah you missed it!’
I was so engrossed in looking through the lens of my camera, that I was missing everything else around me!
At times I would spend ages looking through the lens for a particular animal, that I’d miss all the surrounding creatures and wildlife. It actually became difficult at times to maintain my focus as the animals moved so quickly. I soon discovered they were at times better appreciated from a distance.
My focus was tunnel vision. While I enjoyed the park, half way through the journey, I sensed a strong pull to do a re-run of the first part. I felt like I’d missed out. I was so busy looking through the lens, behind the camera, instead of looking at what was not just right in front of me but all around. Not just with one agenda- to capture a good image, but to take that moment in. Really take it in. To capture its beauty, it’s personality and traits. Take in the moment and this rare opportunity.
Subsequently, I consciously made an effort to come out from behind the camera and take in my daughter’s experience, enjoy the company of the friends we were with and to quite simply, take it all in.
I am by no means saying that photography is in anyway a bad habit or something that needs to be given up. I love taking photos and capturing memories for a lifetime.
I use this example purely as a metaphor. To explain and exemplify how in life, we find ourselves stuck behind a lens of having tunnel, single focus vision.
Perhaps our lens is depression or negativity? Perhaps our lens is single-mindedness? Perhaps our lens is stubbornness?
Whatever lens you are looking at life through, the focus you have pre- set, I wonder, if like me today at the zoo, you often feel like you’re missing out on all the other stuff going on around you?
Perhaps your lens and focus is work? Therefore, perhaps, as I did by keeping a single focus, you’re missing out on your children and family around you? If it’s negativity, how is that affecting and filtering out into other areas of your life?
I encourage you. Put down the lens. Come out from behind the camera and enjoy all God has placed not just in front of you, but all around you!
Avoid staying so focused on trying to capture those moments and memories right in the moment that you forget to enjoy all the other things. Sometimes we just need to stop, sit back, smile and take it all in.
I pose the question, perhaps you need to shift your focus?
My concern is that if we live our life constantly behind a lens, having a single focus- that we will constantly have a sense of regret. I say this from experience. Wishing, hoping we could go back and do it again, without the lens this time, really taking everything in. Wishing we’d have spent more time with the friend or family member, instead of focusing so much on what seemed the bigger, more important thing in front of us at the time.
God has given us a life full of blessings, gifts and fruitfulness to be enjoyed- not just what is placed right in front of you. He’s much bigger than that. Perhaps consider widening your lens, shifting your focus and taking in all the other things around you. A good start I’ve found when struggling to shift my focus, is to look around me for things I can be thankful for.
My final question is this: is what’s right in front of you, that thing your focusing on, from God? Or is it a distraction from the enemy? Has it generated a place of top priority where you’ve placed others or other commitments as a lower priority? Is what you’re focusing on having a negative and potentially harmful impact? Perhaps you need to put down your lens and shift your focus back to where God wanted it in the first place and take a look at all the things you can be thankful for.
One thing I am sure of, is that our first focus, our top priority, should always be God. It’s when my focus has shifted off of him, that my lens of life gradually becomes fixated on negativity and feeling overwhelmed. This lens attitude to life only filters through to all areas and people who are important to me, causing quite often a downward spiral.
What you focus on will filter out.
This year, I want my focus to not only be more on God but to look through the lens of trusting Him more and worrying less. To look through life with this lens at its widest possible function, and to always remember to come out from behind the lens of distraction, consciously taking in all that is around me and all I have to be thankful for.