Monday, April 27, 2015

Emphasize Things Deserving of Attention

Yellow Springs, Ohio
Finally, brothers and sisters, 
whatever is true, 
whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

A good teacher will instruct their students on what they need to understand so as to improve. As a guitar teacher I taught students how to play better. Too much emphasis on what can go wrong can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Henri Nouwen writes:

"What is finally important is not that we overcome death but that we celebrate life. I have found that total concentration on fighting the forces of destruction is dangerous and can be very damaging." (Nouwen, The Road to Peace, 40)

This is not the old "power of positive thinking" thing, or some shallow "Eckhart Tolle" (not his real name) myth. It is, however, to acknowledge that what we think about matters to our spiritual well-being. Make your focus on what is right, not on what is wrong. Acknowledge wrong, but major on right. 

Nouwen continues:

"When I allow my mind and heart to experience what a nuclear holocaust can do to our planet, it often seems that a deep darkness starts to surround me and pull me into a pit of depression and despair. When I try to confront the powers of death that already have a hold on me, I often feel so powerless that I lose contact with the very source of my own life. How easy it is to become a victim of the very forces I am fighting against! When all my attention goes to protesting death, death itself may end up receiving ore attention than it deserves. Thus my struggle against the dark forces of death becomes the arena of my own seduction." (Ib.)

Instead of paying attention to the prince of darkness, focus on the Lord of light.

See beauty, not ashes.

Emphasize excellence, not failure.

Rejoice in truth, not falsehood.