Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Paying Attention

Take a moment and watch this video before you read the rest of this post ... I can't really say anything about it without giving it away, so you'll just have to trust me. Watch first - and then read.

Crazy, right?

The first time I saw this video was on an episode of Ellen last season and I totally thought it was a hoax until I hit rewind and there it was all along... a moonwalking bear. Man, our eyes can play tricks on us!

I guess it really has less to do with what our eyes are seeing and more to do with what we are focusing on ... what we're acknowledging. (I know, I know... I'm about to say something deep about a moonwalking bear. You aren't really that surprised, are you?)  :)

I have had people in my life who always seem to be searching for something... waiting to be shown a direction. They've been searching for what job to take, where to live, the love of their life. Searching for something to believe in. I have been asked many times about my faith and I often found it difficult to explain because so many people relate to faith as this "feeling." And sometimes it is... sometimes you are just so filled up with it that it's impossible not to realize all the ways God is at work.

But what happens when that feeling goes away? When life gets hard and nothing is falling into place and that filled-up feeling disappears... people start searching all over again. And because the feeling is gone, their faith is as well.

When I was in college this guy I had known since high school asked me how I knew that God was real. It was ironic because, while we were in different grades, we went to the same Catholic high school and were taught the same lessons. But he said when he saw me sing at Mass and interact with people I looked at peace with all of it... like I had that "feeling." He said he was mainly going to church as a way to hedge his bets... he figured if God really did exist then he would have done everything he was supposed to in order to get into heaven, but if God didn't exist then all he had done was waste some time on Sundays. Mostly, he just wanted some sort of proof so he could feel the faith everyone seemed so sure of.

I think that is true of so many of us - we expect to have God hit us on top of the head with a wand so that feeling will just appear in us, and then we'll believe for the rest of our lives. But the truth is, we have to work on it. People work on their marriages, they work to get promotions, they work at raising their children. But faith... that's just supposed to exist somewhere, right?

For me, I think it's all about my focus. Instead of searching for God I choose to simply acknowledge Him. It's like when I was watching the people in white passing the basketball, the only thing I was looking for was them. They had my focus. That bear was standing in the middle waving at me and I just looked right around him because I was busy "searching" somewhere else.

God is the same way. While we are all so busy searching for Him and waiting for that feeling to magically appear, He's standing there waving, jumping up and down and moonwalking in front of us. Waiting for us to acknowledge Him.

I remember a few years ago I was driving home from a doctor's appointment where I had been told I once again had pneumonia and needed to check into the hospital. I was going home to pack a bag, crying... so tired of going through this routine. And as tears were coming down my face I actually had the thought, "It is so lovely outside... God, you made such a perfect day."

I stopped mid-thought and felt like I was totally crazy. How could things be going so wrong and I feel so grateful all at the same time? But that's faith. It's about keeping your focus. I didn't have a warm and fuzzy feeling. I was tired and sad and sick... but I couldn't look at the sunshine and green grass and not acknowledge the amazing day God created. That didn't happen by accident. It happened because I decided a long time ago to acknowledge God when I saw Him... even when things get difficult.

So, if you want, try something with me this week. Take moments in the routine of your day and acknowledge how God is there. Acknowledge the gifts of your home, your family, your job... the call from a friend, the extra bit of energy, the sunshine. Oh, there will always be flaws in all of those things, but take a step back and see the amazing fabric those tiny little flaws are a part of. 

In other words, keep your eye out for the moonwalking bear.


  1. Awesome post!!! I really needed that today!


  2. Have you ever heard of Thich Nhat Hanh? You sound similar to him... grounded and spiritual. Google him: "Thich Nhat Hanh mindfulness".
    Peace, love, hugs and light to you,
    from Garlic Man in Texas

  3. What a fantastic piece of writing, really tremendous thoughts here. For me, a long time ago, I had to 'decide' God existed. There are times in my life when I'm full of spirit and feeling and motivated by His unseen hand. And there are other times, times of silence and depression and struggles. But I know he's there, whether I'm feeling it or not.

  4. Great post. I love that video. I fell for it....TWICE!

  5. An excellent point!

    Found your site from dooce - just wanted to say hi.

  6. Great Post!!
    When I was young and searching for something to believe in I heard that people could have a personal relationship with Jesus. All other religions focused on doing all the right things to reach perfection but Christians said that there was only one perfection - Christ. Still doubting, I said, Jesus, if you are real let me know and He answered me. That was all I needed to know the direction my spiritual life would take me.
    Yes, there are moments of quiet times when I don't hear Him as openly as others but the problem is mine -- I'm not listening carefully enough. Like you and the beautiful day when you just got the news you'd have to go to the hospital again. He gave you the beautiful day to say to you that He was right there with you, you did not have to go through that alone. I'm so glad to read that you did not miss Him.
    Now, if I sound like I have it all together and always get it right -- well, Christians ain't perfect! Thanks for the post and the needed reminder to look closer for His hand in my life.

  7. The video is great! And your words, the same have been running through my mind recently. When we focus on looking for something (if we're good at focusing) everything else fades into the background and you couldn't say what you even saw because you really didn't see it.
    Gosh, I wonder if when I read God's word sometimes, I'm not looking so much for a 'word' directly for me that I miss the essence of what He is revealing. That will require some thought on my part.
    Nice post!

  8. I found your blog when I saw a comment you left on Angie Smith's blog.

    Wow...you have no idea how much I needed this today. I am struggling with some major anxiety and depresssion and I'm constantly "searching" for an answer, a cure, a method, some help, etc etc etc. What I didn't think about was that I need to be THANKFUL for what I have and let God do the rest....let Him do His job!

    Your blog is a blessing to me today and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it and keeping up from now on.

    God bless you!


  9. I really like this post. Thanks for writing it. :)