Intense focus is often needed in life
One of the many things my dear wife has taught me in over 24 years of marriage (as of this writing) is that there are times in life where I need to intensely focus on something for the sake of getting over a hurdle or establishing a new habit. It’s a skill we all need to develop which is not at all easy. It’s a concept we all know intuitively but not one we’re very good at applying. Let me give you one example from my own life:
I learned that obstacles are made to be overcome
When I was in the 8th grade I was in the percussion section of the band (I played snare drum, cymbals, bass drum, xylophone, tamborine, etc. in the symphonic pieces the band played). It was toward the end of the school year and I learned from my older brother (who was in 10th grade) that the guy who played the drum set in the high school “stage band” was graduating, and there was nobody to take his place.
Something inside me rose up and said, “You can be the next drummer for the stage band.” But there was a catch… the rules said that only those in 10th grade and up could participate in the stage band. It seemed I was out of luck.
But luck had nothing to do with it, determination did.
Very uncharacteristic of my temperament in those days, I approached the high school band direction who I’d never met, and highlighted his conundrum. I told him I was aware that the rules said a freshman could not be in the stage band, but asked him if I could at least audition. He said “Yes.”
Here’s where the intense focus comes in, because I had two very big obstacles to overcome regarding my opportunity.
1. I’d never even sat down behind a drum set. I had the basic skills of a percussionist but had never even begun to master the art of playing multiple items at once using all four of my limbs, which is what is required for playing the drum set. But I was confident it was something I could learn enough to do well on the audition in the spring. I had about two more months of school and the rest of the summer to prepare. I took my little radio shack tape recorder, sat above the drummer at all the basketball games where the stage band played, and recorded every song they played. My plan was to go home, but on earphones, and learn each song by rote while I sat at my drum set. Which brought me to the second problem.
2. I didn’t own a drum set. I explained the opportunity to my mom, who agreed to take me to the local pawn shop to see if they had an affordable drum set. There were two or three drums from one drum set and a few random pieces from others which we bought and I pieced together. The cymbals were bent and sounded like trash can lids. But I had a drum set with which I could begin practicing. My mom said that if I was accepted for the role after my audition, she’d help me get a “real” drum set.
I dedicated myself to a time of intense focus all summer long. I still remember the hot days in my garage, banging away at the drums with my headphones on. I remember the frustration of learning new skills, of having to slow things way down so that I could get them right and then gradually speed them up until I reached the normal tempo of the songs. I remember wondering if it would all be worth it.
To make the already long story short, I was accepted to play in the stage band.
Where do you need to do some intense focusing in your role as husband, wife, or parent?
Life is full of obstacles, and family life is part of life. So it figures that family life, with all its variety will be filled with obstacles too.
- communication challenges
- new stages of life for your kids that require new parenting skills
- unforeseen health circumstances you have to face
- ignorance about what to do
- issues of personal character that you need to adjust with the Spirit’s help
But the reality is that the obstacles we face are the more important, life-impacting things.
Doesn’t it make sense to devote yourself to some times of intensive focus so that you can get the more important things taken care of? They may be crises you are having with your teenage kids, or issues where you’re not seeing eye to eye with your spouse. They may be ongoing issues of trust and betrayal that you’ve never really dealt with.
Whatever the issue, intense focus may be exactly what the LORD would use to help you get over the hump and head toward a healthier place in life.
This is why the bulk of the counseling I do is structured into “intensives.” My wife and I come alongside couples to help them intensely focus on the issues that are plaguing their marriages. We’d even be open to doing an event like this for those who are having struggles in their parenting or family life. If you or someone you know is in need of this kind of help, feel free to contact us or pass the word along.
The point is that we’ve seen a huge benefit to staying focused in a short but intense period of time to hammer through the obstacles, build new habits, and head in a healthier direction.
What are YOU going to do about those areas that are holding you back? Are you going to let them continue to be a thorn in your side, or are you going to take them on? Remember, obstacles are made (by God) to be overcome!