July 12, 2023
What catches your eye will capture your heart.
Our attention and our affection are directly connected. We live in a world where our attention is bought and sold with every scroll, click, and double tap. Everyone is after our attention. And while we often feel like we have no say in what shows up in our feeds and what pops up on our screens, we know it is all designed to catch our eye. Because those paying for our attention know this is the way to our heart—what gets our attention will likely get our affection.
We wish it were without consequence. We wish the mindless scroll or Netflix binge was just harmless amusement. We wish that our hearts could be immune from the consequences of what entertains our eyes. But the truth is everything that grabs our attention affects us in some way, shape, or form. Our thoughts, emotions, well-being, and eventually who we are and who we are becoming, are being shaped as we hand over our attention.
In our current teaching series for the summer, we’ve defined delight as an encounter with something good that allows goodness to awaken us to what we want.
How we determine goodness is a function of desire. And without anything governing our desires, we are left to the whim of whatever happens to catch our eye.
These unchecked desires will ultimately determine what we pursue, creating our own form of goodness and establishing our appetite. This appetite drives what we want more and more of, which creates more desire.
Our lives become a reflection of this pursuit and expression of these desires.
Attention has a price. This is why we say we pay attention. We either pay for it with the discipline of our eyes or the malformation of our hearts.
Too often, our attention is at the mercy of whatever hijacks our emotions. Our hi-jacked attention doesn’t nourish mental health, but rather exploits our feelings. So, we must pay attention to what we are paying attention to.
To pay attention is to intentionally set our minds and give energy into what we see. The place from where we give our attention can become the starting point of our attraction. Our hearts are captured and our desires are formed.
The early church was encouraged to pay attention in this exact way. Set your mind (Romans 8:5-6). Think your thoughts. Be mindful of what gets your attention. Direct your attention to what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8) This powerful list helps us consider what gets traction in our minds. Guard our hearts because the whole of our lives flow from this place (Proverbs 4:23) This is a charge to pay attention to what gets in our heads because it will affect our heart, providing a frame of reference for what we believe about God, ourselves, and others.
Our emotions should rest on the foundation of God’s love and truth, instead of letting our perspective be defined by our emotions. This requires effort. We will be challenged and stretched. But our understanding of God and the world around us will be enriched and better for it.
If your desires have become misaligned, malformed, and mismatched for who you hope to become, begin by examining what has your attention and the ways you can recapture and redirect it toward what you really want to want.
Embrace the habit of paying attention. Here are a couple of reflection questions to help you consider what catches your eye.
-What most easily catches my attention?
-What desires are awakened by this payment of attention?
-What is the trajectory of those desires?
-In what ways can you return your attention to the life God intends for you?
Use your ONE WORD to frame what catches your eye. This is the beauty of having a lens that regularly reframes what you see in order to pay attention to what will ultimately form your heart.