Don't Patrol What You Can't Control
Updated: Mar 22
Over the next 2 weeks, I am exploring principles of mental and spiritual strength. I will share characteristics that strong people exhibit and ways in which you can cultivate them in your own life.
Characteristic #2 – Strong People Stay Focused on the Possible
The COVID-19 challenge is described as “unprecedented” and “unchartered.” There is no map to navigate this challenge. Each day we learn something new and chart our way forward the best we can.
It is all too easy to get distracted on what we cannot control – When will schools open again? What will happen to the elections? How will I get to work? Starbucks can’t really close, can it?
However, there is no value in allowing our thoughts and feelings to get swept away by questions and obstacles we cannot control. Jesus names this tendency of ours to worry in his Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:25-34)”
The energy we give to worry is unproductive. Jesus rhetorically points out that worrying about things we cannot control won’t change anything, including the longevity of our lives. Worrying is wasted energy that we cannot recover.
Mentally and spiritually strong people do not allow what they cannot control to be a distraction. We cannot control the events unfolding in the world and how governments, communities and people will navigate the devastating effects of this pandemic.
Instead, mentally and spiritually strong people focus on living out their special assignment from God, following Jesus’ work and activity in the world. Even if choices available seem small, deploy your energy where you can make a difference. Be kind. Show up as a friend and neighbor. Go the extra mile at work, even if others are taking advantage of remote working policies. Help your boss succeed, despite your feeling that she isn’t qualified for the leadership role. Do the 100 pushups each day. Put the money in the bank for retirement. Say thank you.
You have a dream that is worth pursuing. There is no reason to give up on where you are goin going in the longterm. How can you break it down so you can direct your energy toward taking a step, a small push, a little investment toward it becoming a reality?
Strong people steer their lives in the direction they would like to go while accepting there are many things that we simply cannot control. As Jesus followers we do not grow weary or lose heart. Instead, we follow the encouragement Paul gives to the early followers of Jesus to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-3).”
At Younique, we set direction for our lives in terms of a picture that describes the person we would like to be in 3 years. It is not a specific goal because we cannot predict or control outcomes 3 years from now. Rather, the picture becomes a guiding focus, a point on the horizon that keeps our eyes up and our hearts open to what God can do in our lives. This 3 year vision serves as a point of reference to steer our lives in the direction we are called. This point of focus keeps us from becoming distracted by all that we cannot control.
Who would you like to be in 3 years? What is a goal you have that can be captured in a picture or image that can serve as your guide? Build your mental and spiritual strength by putting your trust in the Lord and surrendering to his good care all that you cannot control. Instead, focus on living and investing in what moves your forward to the picture of yourself 3 years from now.
Our online course, Life Planning 101, is designed to help you both name a 3 year vision for yourself and to declare those weekly and daily rhythms that not only you can control but bring you fuel and life.
I would love to hear where you are headed. What is the picture you have of yourself for three years from now? How is this picture helping you to stay focused on what you can do and not distracted by what you cannot control? Share with me your story. firstname.lastname@example.org. Be strong and courageous!