Focus Within You, Part One

Two years ago, I captured today’s photo in one of earth’s magical places. On a smoky North Carolina mountaintop swathed in worship and prayer, a few hundred writers gathered to pursue their calling. Signs referred to the location as Ridgecrest, but I’m sure its true identity cannot be pronounced in the human tongue. We witnessed sun and clouds dancing together in this thin place between heaven and mortal existence. Pavement buckled and rose over narrow walkways beautified by the devoted soles hiking through. As I floated along the enchanting path, irises raised their amethyst heads and posed among their spired blades.
The landscape gleamed with royal jewels who begged to be carried away in photographs. I couldn’t bring the magical realm to you in a snapshot, but we can gaze into the face of an iris together. Our flower lingers only in this captured memory. Two winters ago, she lost the glory of her vibrance and surrendered her life to enrich the soil for coming generations. A chilling wind lifted the last breath of her fragrance and conveyed it beyond the reach of mortal senses.
This bloom spent her days dwelling in a thin place between heaven and earth. She attended prayerful soles, smiled at the weary, remained patient in the short span of her existence. If she could impart wisdom from her life in the magical world of a wispy mountaintop, what might she tell us?
When rottenness buries you, don’t waste it by staying there. Refuse, suffocation, and death envelop us. Dirt tangles around our roots. We can remain buried and become part of the rotten muck, or choose to use it for our growth. The choice might seem oversimplified to the oppressed. How can one hope in the midst of darkness? Believing in what cannot be seen defines the essence of overcoming. Faith, neither trite nor cheap, determines our survival.
The suffering soul cannot see past the dank pain overwhelming her. She must pursue the sunlight in faith until her life sprouts above the surface. Her new growth requires continued nurture and perseverance, holding out hope for the promise of her dreams. The creator designed her to bloom in colors she has never seen in herself. She must focus on His whispers to guide her into the fullness of her potential.
1.  Document your pain as a flower bed. Decide not to rest your head there forever. Process the past, but refuse to let it sour your future with bitterness. Once you’ve understood your wounds, seek healing and do the hard work of forgiveness to set your soul free. Identify yourself as a flower instead of simply a root ball alone. You are more than the gunk where you started, and have the potential to become more than you are.
2.  Tell yourself where you’re heading before you see the sunlight. Post inspirational notes to keep faith in the center of your perspective.
3.  Identify yourself as who you’re becoming instead of who you are or who you’ve been before. Determine to learn your beauty as one destined to bloom and share a legacy of fragrant blessings.
4.  Listen for the songs, messages, and prayers overhead. Find wise counsel in mature groups, books, and individuals to encourage your growth upward. Avoid the pull of those who linger in resentment and rot.
What inspires you when darkness oppresses your life? Please share your inspirations or questions so we can encourage one another. As we enhance our focus within, let’s take a few weeks to listen to the heart of an iris.

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