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Focusing on the Destination

During a management class in graduate school, one instructor taught a lesson that has stuck with me.  She gave each one of us a kaleidoscope and had us enjoy playing with the patterns and colors.  She then asked us to observe how easily and beautifully new patterns would form as we made slight adjustments to the outer wheel.  She then had us discuss the ways in which these patterns were formed.  Was it easier to painstakingly and carefully put each little speck of colored glass where we thought it should go or was it more effective to simply move the outer ring and be surprised at the beautiful pattern that emerged?
 
At times I have found myself struggling to control all the little pieces of glass that I feel should be a part of my life and that I think are essential for me  (and my family) to get where I want to go.  Fortunately, a loving Heavenly Father and good friends that appear in my path at just the right time, remind me that it is the bigger picture ? that matters more than the small details.  When I initially experienced the break up of my family, I struggled to make sure all the little pieces ? were where they were supposed to be.  As a result, I experienced a great deal of stress and frustration as I tried to complete everything on some imaginary checklist that I thought would ensure success ?.  It was only as I let go and started to focus on the destination ?the end goal ?the ultimate outcome ?that I was able to step back, free the little pieces from my grasp and then stare in amazement at the beautiful (even if crazy at times) pattern that emerged in my life.  I still struggle with wanting to control ? the little pieces (as I am sure many of us do), but I am getting better at taking a deep breath and experiencing more joy in the journey ?. 
 
Does this resonate with you?  Have you had times in your life when you sought to control all the little things ??  Did it impact your personal happiness positively or negatively?  How do you maintain your focus on the big picture ? and maintain an eternal perspective?

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Alison Moore Smith November 6, 2009, 2:03 am

    Julie, profound. I am such a control freak. I want every detail to be precisely right. What a good lesson for me. Thank you.

  • facethemusic November 6, 2009, 7:07 am

    I read this article, then pondered the questions at the end as I was going forth and back to pick up the boys from Seminary just now. I had to THINK about it– I don’t think I’ve ever done much introspection in regards to how much “control” I feel I need to have. So as I was driving I considered the things I DO have control over, the things I don’t, the times when I feel I NEED to take control of things, etc and what I came up with is this:
    I don’t really CARE about the “little things” (of course, what’s considered to be little vs big, is a subjective I guess). But when it comes to the big things, or more accurately, the IMPORTANT things, I don’t care WHO has control, so long as SOMEONE has control (and I mean “good” control.) And if “someone” doesn’t have control over something for which someone SHOULD have control, then I’ll TAKE control, because SOMEONE has to do it, and if it has to be me, so be it.
    Whew! How’s THAT for introspection?
    So when I consider the times when I DID have control/wanted control/took control and whether or not it impacted me positively or negatively, I’d have to positively. Generally speaking, when I have control over something, I get results/answers/peace of mind, not necessarily because it all turned out exactly the way I wanted it, (though often it does) but because I know I did everything I could, did my best, etc. But I also have to say that for the most part, other than control over myself, I don’t WANT “control” of things. I want everyone ELSE to have control of things– not over ME, but over THEMSELVES and THEIR OWN stewardships and responsibilities so that I don’t HAVE to take control. I get ANNOYED when I feel like I’m having to do what someone ELSE was SUPPOSE to do. But if it’s important, then I’ll do it because it needs to be done.
    I’ve mentioned before the frustration I felt when my son’s Sunday School teacher was never showing up and MONTHS went by with every single week requiring a substitute, most of the time winging a lesson they hadn’t seen until that morning, and I finally said, in essence, “For heaven’s sake, give me the calling. SOMEONE needs to teach these kids and if ________ won’t do it, then let ME do it.” The important thing, is that the kids gain a testimony of and an appreciation for the scriptures– so I don’t care WHO does it– if the person called won’t do it, then I’ll do it myself, with an official call or not.
    Same thing with chores around the house– I want everyone to be responsible for THEMSELVES, clean up their own messes, and I’m not picky about how it’s done, etiher– it doesn’t have to be done a certain way, doesn’t have to be perfect, just make it presentable and I’m fine. But when stuff DOESN’T get done, I DO have to fight the urge to just do it myself. In this case, the IMPORTANT thing isn’t that it gets done period, but that THEY LEARN to do it themselves. So I constantly have to remind myself, that when it comes to housework for example, the “big picture” isn’t a spotless home, but helping the kids to contribute to and appreciate and desire an orderly one.
    I guess for the most part I’m ABLE to focus on the destination BECAUSE I’m not focusing on the little things.
    My sister in law is the opposite. She has a “specific way” she wants things done around the house and if things aren’t done exactly that way it makes her crazy. You can’t offer to help her wash the dishes after a family get together at her house– she wants them done a “certain way” and she can’t stand to see people do it differently. If you clean up after yourself, she’s going to come right behind you and clean up again HER way. She’s a very high maintenance, high stress person and sometimes, it seems like because she IS so focused on the details, she totally loses sight of the “big picture”.

  • corktree November 6, 2009, 9:42 am

    I used to be like that sister-in-law….but over the last few years I have had to come to grips with the fact that I can’t control everything as my children get older. I’ve become increasingly OCD with each pregnancy, but at the same time I am learning to control myself rather than other people. There is still a lot that bothers me and makes me a bit crazy, but I no longer allow it to effect others negatively. Because of this, I do think I can see the perspective of those around me better which helps me to have a better view of the “big picture”. Without that I wouldn’t see things very realistically at all because my own view of the world can be pretty skewed when the part of my brain that sees all the bad and dirty takes over. I’ve worked really hard to see the beauty in a chaotic life…and while I think I can definitely SEE it now, I still can’t always let things just “fall as they may”. Great post.

  • Tinkerbell November 12, 2009, 7:10 pm

    Yes, this resonates with me. Great post.

  • daisy November 13, 2009, 6:47 pm

    Great Post. I no longer have little ones in the house to try and control. I’ve had a lot of of time to consider how much all that controlling I tried to do, helped or hurt. When its all said and done, they grow up. I think we do better figure out how to let them learn how to make correct choices rather than trying to control their every action. Easier said than done.

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