I heard something the other day that has had me thinking and it was the phrase “attention is not a neutral force.” It always affects the object or concept on which it is placed and that object or concept on which your attention is placed ultimately grows bigger. So the more you feed it, the more it grows.
That reminded me of a time about 10 years ago when I went up to the Kansas City area to visit my sisters and my middle sister was in the renovation process. They had just purchased the home and they were in the process of renovating it and adding on to it. She and her family of five plus two full-grown golden retrievers were living in this little 900 sq ft. apartment with only two bedrooms.
So just picture it: three daughters, no fighting, a mom and a dad, and two full-sized golden retrievers. I stayed with her a couple of nights when I was in Kansas City and we were all in this teeny, tiny, cramped little space. Next thing I know, I asked my sister a question considering that she was going to be in this space for about 3-4 more months. The question was, “how are you able to do this? I would be going crazy.” She looked at me with this kind of puzzled expression on her face and then she shrugged and said, “you know, I’ve been so focused on the new house that I haven’t even really noticed how cramped it is.” This response was so surprising to me as well as interesting because all of her attention was on choosing carpet, paint, fixtures, and all of these things for her permanent dwelling. Her attention was so fixated on her permanent dwelling that her temporary dwelling didn’t bother her. In the passage of Colossians 3:1-3, Paul writes to the church:
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things”, in other words, pay attention to what you’re paying attention to because attention is not a neutral force. Whatever you give your attention to, whatever you focus on, whatever you fixate on, soon that becomes the biggest thing in your life. My sister, her family of five, and their two full-grown dogs actually look back on that time as exciting and fun. They were cozy. It was just good family time. But the entire time my sister’s thoughts, as well as her heart and mind, were set on her more permanent dwelling. In the same way, this should also always be us.