Simplify – a simple message on a plaque that adorns my dining room. You see, I have always had an issue with over complicating things I would like to accomplish. That is, until I learned a simple lesson that I would like to share with you.
I have a simple task for you. Hold a penny out at arm’s length and look at it. Is it shiny or dull, what year is it from? Does your penny have a story? I bet your penny has even been around the states and back. Now slowly take that penny closer and closer to your eye. If you have glasses, get that penny as close to your eye as possible. Is it touching your eye? Close the other eye. What do you see now? Nothing?
Ok you can put your penny down now.
The point of that exercise is that perhaps it is easier to truly observe something when we are not so wrapped up in it that we lose focus. When we hyper focus, we no longer see something for what it really is. We are looking at it in such detail that our true vision of it is blocked.
Perhaps we tend to do this in our home life, our work life, or our spiritual life.
Have you ever picked something apart to the point that it is no longer recognizable? What about your marriage? Have you gotten so frustrated by a minor irritation that it becomes like that penny – so close that you can’t remember or see anything but what is irritating you? Maybe they are messy or they snore. Perhaps they laugh funny or have become argumentative. Are you becoming hyper focused on these things? Have you forgotten the wonderful attributes that make your spouse so special or why you married them to begin with?
Hyper focusing can happen at work too. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in a small detail that I lose sight of the big picture. Perhaps an employee makes a mistake or I make a mistake and I find myself wanting to go home, crawl under the covers and call it a day. In reality, that small detail is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I simply made it more complicated because I obsessed over it.
Now let’s discuss our kids. As parents, we tend to over react to a small thing our children have done instead of counting our blessings for all the things they haven’t done. Maybe your kid forgot to turn in an assignment or do a chore, or your teenager said something extremely rude. Come on - if you think your kids are bad – turn on Dr. Phil or Jerry Springer – talk about perspective.
When we hyper-focus on our kids, I like to call this “snap shot” parenting. I recently pulled out some old photos of the kids as they were growing up. I noticed that those pictures represented a different period in our lives. One picture couldn’t tell the whole story, just a moment in time. I have pictures of happy times, sad times, temper tantrums, and major celebrations.
It’s the collection of all those photos that tell the story – but really it’s only half the story. The rest is still to come. The future is full of more snap shots that will come together like a mosaic to create an ongoing “bigger picture.”
I heard a story once about a lady who was preparing to give a talk to the ladies of her church. She was well-respected among her church family and they were very excited for the upcoming talk. She was to talk about Simplifying Ones Life. In preparation for the talk, she decided to make a very intricate background of all the things that can complicate our daily lives. Ironically, as the talk drew closer, she realized that the backdrop was no where near completion. She only had two days to paste a giant 6ft by 10 ft back drop with hundreds of pictures, many of which still needed to be cut out. As it turned out, she stayed up all night working on the backdrop. When the time came to give her speech, she stood proudly with the backdrop behind her. But, she was so tire that all she could do was stand up dazed and disheveled as she stood at the front of the room. She found herself having to look at notes and apologize time and time again for losing her train of thought. She over-thought the project so much, that it ruined the presentation.
You see, that backdrop was the penny in her eye. She was so hyper focused on what didn’t really matter that what did matter suffered. While the ladies appreciated the many photos that were behind her, nobody came to see the backdrop, they came to hear her speak. That backdrop was the penny in her eye.
I ask you today – what’s the penny in your eye? What small detail is keeping you from the bigger tasks at hand? Keep that penny, carry it with you or tape it to your wall or mirror. Let it be a reminder that the small things are just that, pennies. The real prize is in bigger picture –the prize is your husband, child, or co-workers worth. Keep the penny out of your eye so you can see and appreciate the riches that surround you!