“Mama, what about the snow?” my daughter asked.
I knelt by her bed, confused for a moment. Then, I understood what she was asking. We forgot to thank God for the gifts of the day. The snow was a gift she realized was from God, and in my tiredness, I had recited a bedtime prayer and was ready to walk out the door. But my daughter remembered. I didn’t see how she was grasping the importance of these simple things, and I smiled as I closed my eyes a second time.
More often than I can count, it’s my kids who remind me how an intentional perspective shift can change the way I live. It can alter the way I approach circumstances that make me want to groan and throw up my hands (insert the entire year of 2020). They are God’s little messengers in the middle of my stubbornness, and remind me of his promises. It will be okay, even if tomorrow doesn’t look the way I want.
It turns out, I wrote an entire book about shifting and I didn’t even realize how much I would need it. Today is its one year birthday.
Months before its release, 2020 approached and I had a grand vision for how the year would go. In my mind, I saw in-person conferences and events, hugs with those who supported the journey, and some travel here and there. Of course, March rolled around and the year took a complete 180 from what I saw in my head.
God called me to shift my perspective in a way I never foresaw, and in a way I quite frankly didn’t want to.
But doing so changed me. Through his grace, I saw how he called me to write a message about changing the way we look at life for such a time as this. None of what came was a surprise to him. However, to see what he wanted me to see, I had to surrender my ideas of what the year was supposed to look like. I had to trust him to use whatever the season brought with it for good, even when I didn’t know how it was possible.
To witness God’s work in the midst of the mess, we must trust that he is making a way even when we’re surrounded by a wilderness.
This is not a one and done act, but a daily process. And when we do, God opens our eyes, little by little.
Here are three ways God shifted my focus over the past year:
1. He showed me my impact starts at home and in my community.
That little interaction with my daughter was just one of the many moments God brought me back to this truth. And the more isolated we became, the more I knew how important it was to be connected to community. God didn’t create us to be alone or to do life alone. He made us to thrive as a body of believers who do life together and carry each other’s burdens. But to carry out this command to love the way God intended, I have to look outside of my peripheral view.
2. He showed me that my release of control is the beginning of wisdom.
I love a well thought out plan, and I love it even more when life goes according to it. But when my plans crumble, God has the incredible opportunity to show me he is still working. Instead of reliance on checked off boxes, my reliance is solely upon him. And when the supernatural happens, he gets the glory because there was no other way it could have come about.
These are the times when he gives me insight into his character and shows me what a gracious God he is. My eyes open because my gaze is shifted to what he’s doing, not the circumstances following my agenda.
3. He showed me that my identity is not determined by my success.
Honestly, I thought I already knew this. I even have a chapter in my book about it. But during the last year, God confirmed this truth in a whole new way. He showed me, in the words of Lysa TerKeurst, that writing would not be the making of me, but the breaking of me. He uses it to continue to work out my salvation, and to bring me back to the truth of who I am.
As much as I cursed the devastation of 2020, I thank God for the ways he used it to humble me. Because more than anything, shifting is about putting my selfish flesh aside and letting his Spirit guide me. And when I do, the fullness of who he is rests on me a little more. I walk a little lighter as I remember the fleeting nature of this world.
And despite what’s going on around me, I can smile again.
Shift Your Focus in 2021:
If you need to shift your focus from disappointment and worry and see what God is already doing in your life, I encourage you to pick of a copy of my book, Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. I talk more about the ways a simple shift can change everything. Many people have sent me messages saying it is a timely book for this season. This encourages my heart so much. I pray that God continues to use it to touch lives.
Here’s what one reader said:
“This book came at just the right time in my life when I needed to change my perspective. Abby McDonald’s beautiful and easy-to-read writing felt comforting and gently guided and helped me shift my attitude. There are so many great quotes throughout. There are few books I treasure enough to keep forever—this is one of them.” – Valerie M.
You can pick up a copy of Shift by clicking the image below.