You've heard this phrase before, right? If you're like me, you've heard it lots of times. Enough times, in fact, that you've gotten so used to hearing it that you sorta forgot you never fully understood what it meant. Know what I mean? It just becomes one of those phrases that is part of the vocabulary you don't bother to question. And I'm not talking about the literal verbal meaning. I know what the individual words mean. Most people over the age of 2 do. ;-)
But what does it really mean? As in, how do I do it? I can't stare at him. He's not physically visible. I've been thinking about this a lot lately for some reason. I think I know what most people would say, and I'm sure they're all right. You read scripture, you pray, you interact with people who point you to Christ, etc., etc., etc. OK. All excellent advice. But somehow, at least for me, those things don't add up to being "fixed." They are all wonderful and necessary things to do, but what about the in between times? What happens when I'm washing dishes and can't be turning the pages of my Bible because my hands are wet? (I suppose I could be praying during that time, which I actually do sometimes, but work with me for the sake of this example, k? ;-) What I'm after here is figuring out that whole "fixed" situation. How do I stay fixed no matter what my activity?
Just a couple days ago, I remembered an interaction with Macy and Grace from a few years back that gave me a new perspective on this.
The people who know us best know that at times we can be a somewhat "wild" and loud and active family. There tends to be a lot going on in our house at any given time, and honestly the level of activity was probably even more elevated when the girls were younger. They were just starting to find their voices and explore and wander around the house, and they had lots of noisy toys too, so yeah--a cacophony pretty much all the time. And because of that, I developed a habit early on that went something like this-- When I needed the girls to give me their full attention, and I knew that they were being distracted by dozens of other things, I would get down on their level and say, "Girls, look in my eyes 'cause this is important" and then proceed to give them whatever instructions or corrections they needed. After just a few times of doing that, they quickly learned that those words meant it was time to pay attention, and for the most part, they took it very seriously. Gracie took it so seriously, in fact, that sometimes when I took my gaze off her to look over at Macy for just a few seconds, she would lean over in front of her sister so that she could maintain locked eye contact. It was a pretty funny and adorable thing to watch.
But what was really interesting to me was realizing that while they understood very quickly the idea of looking in my eyes, what Gracie had trouble with initially was figuring out when it was ok to look away. Once we locked eyes, she wanted to stay there. And she would do whatever she needed to do to make it so. Whether it was leaning in front of her sister, grabbing my face and holding it still or following me into the next room, she pursued that focused eye contact with everything she had until I specifically told her she could look away and go back to other things.
I wonder if I've ever even tried to do that. I mean, I set aside time to pray, read scripture and study my Bible all the time. But there is always an end point to those activities that I know is coming, and I'm not sure I have ever thought to myself until very recently, "What can I do to stay 'fixed' after these activities end?" When I close my Bible and stand up to go wash dishes or do laundry or work out, how do I still stay focused on Christ?
I think Grace was on to something. :-D As I have thought through this, I was at first so obsessed with the idea of looking with my eyes that I couldn't make it make sense. But as I've thought it through, what I *think* I've realized is that the phrase has much more to do with behavior than eyesight. It's not about physical eye contact; it's about obedience. It's about deciding unflaggingly that Christ is your ultimate desire and that running toward him is your ultimate goal. And just like Gracie learned to obey me and keep doing it until I released her from my instructions, it's about realizing that when God calls you to do something, he should be the ONLY one you allow to re-direct your path or relieve you from that duty to move on to something else.
So for me, practically that looks a little something like this: God has called me to be a stay-at-home Mom in rural Vermont. Washing dishes and doing laundry are a big part of that, so they fit the path that I am on. Sometimes this also means baking cookies and flying kites. I've struggled with feelings of guilt on days that I have had the joy of doing these types of activities all day long, but truly this is my calling. To be the kind of Mom I believe God has called me to be, I need to be fully present in the lives of my children--whatever that means.
God has called me to be a pastor's wife. This means all sorts of things. Certainly it means supporting my husband in any way I can, but it also means developing relationships, providing meals, communicating with our church members, interacting with our community, etc., etc., etc. If I am understanding correctly, anything I do toward those goals helps me stay fixed on Christ--even those late night conversations on facebook with people who need prayer. (I'm really just kinda messing with people who think facebook is useless. I disagree, but certainly I understand that it can be a huge time waster too. :-P)
The bottom line for me on this (at least for now) is that anything that is in keeping with my overall calling can be a way of staying fixed on Christ. And those activities will be different for everyone. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to read scripture 12 hours a day and pray the other 6 hours you're awake. For me, it sometimes means fingerpainting and blowing bubbles. Other times it means being on my face in prayer for someone. It changes every day. But it is all part of being "fixed" as long as it is in alignment with my ultimate calling.
So that's what I got for now. ;-)