"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
My theme for this year is "Unseen".
Last year it was "Brave".
I like the idea of having a theme for the year. I think of it as vision from God that helps me to know how to focus my attention. Like an anchor that keeps the "Jessica-ship" steady when the wind and waves of life try to get me off course. I need it. Because the Jessica-ship is prone to floating away.
Anyway, I feel like the theme is "Unseen."
What does that mean?
Well, it actually means a lot of things for my life but for the sake of time I'm going to spread them out over a small series of posts rather than writing a novel.
It's easier for me to type. And easier for you to read. So its a win-win all around.
I'll start with the most obvious meaning of this theme, the most clear piece of understanding that I have right now about "fixing my gaze on things unseen".
I'll repeat it. (Just in case you struggle to read hashtags.)
Our world is ALL about image.
We live in a time that glorifies image. From Hollywood movie stars, to insta-famous bloggers- we are fixated by people who live picture-perfect lives, and we do everything we can to create our own magazine-worthy world.
Some of us dream of being Victoria's Secret models, others just do whatever it takes to score a #dreambody that can be plastered all over social media. Whether we aim to be the cool edgy wife, or the young adorable pinterest mom, or the fashionable socialite... we live in a world that puts pressure on our ability to make our lives appear awesome.
We don't even necessarily need to BE awesome. We just need to LOOK awesome.
And don't get me wrong. I am grateful to live in this time in history. I feel outrageously blessed that I can be living in LA and at the same time know what my favorite friends in Switzerland are doing on any given day. The technology available to us right now is mind-blowing.
But there's always a down-side.
And I don't know about your down-side, but mine is definitely that I am tempted to focus on the image I present of myself, rather than actually focusing on the parts of me that really matter. It's one thing to post a photo of Shaun and I cuddling up like we adore each other. But its another thing to choose to adore him when no one is looking. When I am tired and grumpy and he is asking more than my selfish little self wants to give... will I adore him then?
Or with my body. I could try to be skinny. I could skip meals and exercise too much to ensure that I like the size of my thighs in a Facebook photo. Eventually I'll be sick, and tired, and grouchy... but who cares right? If other people envy my shape then I've reached the Hollywood standard of success, haven't I? Maybe. But Hollywood doesn't set my standard. Because I'm focusing on the unseen. Image is secondary to the my heart. So I throw away that garbage mentality and focus on true health. Health is unseen. Things like eating well, drinking water, getting balanced exercise, resting regularly, and even having the occasional dessert, are all good for the soul. When my desire for health outweighs my desire to appear thin, I have my priorities straight.
I'm like a tree. My image is the fruit I produce. The unseen are my roots. So I could paint my dead fruit to make it appear real and delicious. Or I could pay attention to my roots so that I can't help but grow something sweet and yummy. Like a pomegranate. I love those.
Anyway, this year is all about the roots. Focusing on the roots requires discipline. Often. Everyday. Sometimes more than that. It requires overcoming my own laziness.
It takes asking the right questions. Will I fix my eyes on the image I want to project of myself? Or will I choose to invest my attention on the places of my life that aren't visible to everyone else? Will I choose to be a person with integrity? Will I choose honesty? Will I choose to love and serve, even when no one says thank you? Will I choose to be kind, even when someone is being a honker and I would rather punch them in their big dumb face? Will I extend patience? Will I follow through? Will I apologize first? Will I have times alone with God, getting into scripture and discovering more of who He is? Will I pray? Will I lead when needed? Will I stop gossiping and be a friend that a friend can trust?
Recently a woman I admire posted the following sentence. It spoke straight to my heart:
"Focus not on being known,
but focus instead on being worth knowing."
That is the gist of what I am getting at. Focusing on the unseen means that I pay less attention to my profile picture and more attention to my character. Because like the scripture says, "What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
a little prayer for help, because I can't do it without His grace...
Help me to honor you in 2014. Help my friends to do it too. Help us to care more about Your opinion of us than the opinions of those around us. Thank you for being a God that looks at the heart. Your Word even says it, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the inward heart." I pray that our hearts would delight you. Please Father, would you give us the grace and strength needed to please you, both in our thoughts and in our actions. May my instagram feed and the choices I make when no one else is looking glorify You. Help me with my attitude, and my integrity. I don't want to be obsessed with me, I want to be satisfied by you. Thank you for helping me and my friends to grow more in our love for you.
Help us to trust you. We love you.
In Your name, Amen.
photos by @danidudekphotography