Four Ways to Focus On That Which We Can Control

Today is one of those days when the world feels out of control.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his chances of getting on the Supreme Court are all the talk this morning.  I have strong opinions on this issue, as do we all, but I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said by others, and whatever I say isn’t going to much matter in the grand scheme of things.

Ultimately, I have no control of what happens there, neither do you, and this kind of thing is really nothing new.

Just consider John Rutledge.

When Washington nominated John Rutledge to return to the Supreme Court to replace retiring chief justice John Jay, the Senate drew lines based not on the man’s judicial merit, nor the fact that he had already been approved for and had already served on the court, but on the fact that he was strongly opposed to the Jay Treaty. Senators who supported the unpopular treaty did not want him on the court because of his political stance on that one issue.

So essentially, it was a single issue vote – for or against – just as Kavanaugh’s confirmation very much amounts to a single issue vote.

The point is that politics and political scheming in our nation’s capital are nothing new, and there is little we can do about it other than vote when given opportunity.

So if we can’t control that, what can we control?

1. Pray about everything:

I can pray for our leaders as they make difficult decisions, pray for my neighbors to not be swayed by media and rhetoric, and pray for myself to keep a level head, speak kindness, and not complain about politics all day long.  Those minutes spent in prayer will yield more meaningful eternal benefits than we may ever know.

2. Seek his kingdom, not ours: 

“27  which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? …31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6

He knows what we need, what is fair, what is just and what is right.  It is our place to seek him and his righteousness in our own lives and do what we can where we can to let his light shine in us.  Jesus had ample opportunity to complain about the Romans and their cruel form of governing, yet he didn’t often bring it up.  He had a bigger, farther reaching agenda.

3. Talk about ‘unimportant’ things:

I can spend hours tweeting, facebooking and reading all about how horrible the world is, or I can choose to invest my time and effort into what matters. Specifically, my family, friends, and people in my community. Talk with your family about things that matter to them personally, even if and especially if it is small and unimportant.  Talk about favorite colors, talk about what makes them laugh, talk about fond memories. In years to come, these conversations, and the people you have them with, will impact the world much more than political social media angst.

4. Make the bed every morning:

Huh? Here’s the point – there is likely a small task somewhere around the house that needs accomplished, and this is perhaps the smallest and easiest.  Invest part of your day in something small that has immediate impact and gives a sense of accomplishment.  It is easier to change the world once you know you can change the sheets.

The Bottom Line: 

There is a great deal in this world that we cannot control, and the list of what ‘matters’ to society changes weekly, if not daily.  But when we focus on that which we can control, we can live less anxious, more fulfilling lives.

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