Yesterday, at 3:30pm – I got a disturbing call from my wife, Kim:  “Honey, there’s water coming through the basement ceiling tiles!”  Seriously?  I had my day planned and my evening dedicated to other non-crisis type, sort of relaxing, “I need some alone time” type stuff.  And now THIS?  8 hours later and 2 trips to Home Depot (hey, did you know they make water line caps that you can put on without soldering?  Sweet!), the crisis was finally averted: saturated and disintegrating ceiling tiles cleaned up, shower enclosure ripped off, giant holes cut through soggy dry-wall, solder-splatters picked off the bathroom floor from attempting to put caps on the lines and failing (oh yeah….that was what the first trip to Home Depot was for!).  Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper when I threw my head on the pillow last night!  Then today, I came across something I had read several months ago that hit me between the eyes.  It’s from a book called “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day”, by Mark Batterson.  In it, Mark said this …

“A fascinating study, done by Professor Vicki Medvec, reveals the relative importance of subjective attitudes over and above objective circumstances.  Medvec studied Olympic medalists and discovered that bronze medalists were quantifiably happier than silver medalists.  Here’s why:  Silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold, so they weren’t satisfied with silver; bronze medalists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all, so they were just happy to be on the medal stand.

How we feel isn’t determined by objective circumstances.  If that were the case, silver medalists would always be happier than bronze medalists because of objectively better results.  But how we feel isn’t circumstantial.  It is perceptual.  Our feelings are determined by our subjective focus.

Every once in a while, one of our kids will get in a funk because they get focused on whatever’s making them unhappy, so I pull a Star Wars.  I’ll say, ‘Kids, remember what Qui-gon said to Anakin:  “Your focus determines your reality.”’  At first, my kids were somewhat stupefied.  But I explained to them that how they feel is a result of what they focus on. 

It never ceases to amaze me how the same adversity can affect two people so differently – what poisons one person to death sweetens the other person’s spirit.  One person develops a critical soul and shrivels up spiritually while the other person leverages the experience as a spiritual catalyst.”

Smack down!  This was just what I needed to change my focus and thereby change my attitude about my little broken water line.  But, in case you wondered, Qui-gon didn’t come up with the truth about how focus determines your reality.  The Apostle Paul said it a little differently, but with the same meaning:  “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Lord, help me learn this lesson and keep my focus on the many things I have to be thankful for! 

Hey, you can learn a lot from a Jedi!

Larry Burk