We Become What We Behold
Do you remember that little Sunday song, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see?” In the last couple of years, the wisdom of that song has come to mean a lot more to me. There is so much darkness in the world, and in these tumultuous times it’s so easy to lose our hope. The challenge is how to maintain hope and joy in the midst of overwhelming negativity. Every day, I am acutely aware of how important it is to be intentional about what I focus on. William Blake said, “We become what we behold”. To me, the word ‘behold’ is more than a cursory glance. It implies an extended gaze where we pay attention. I know that when I focus too much on all the awful things going on in the world around me, my anxiety increases, and it is easy to give in to despair.
Seeing vs Beholding
I have always been very passionate about the truth, and about staying authentic. Denial is something I have fought against all my life, and I still believe it is important to be honest. But I also see that there is a difference between seeing the facts and giving them my focused attention. What are the issues I should give my attention and my emotional energy to? How much time and energy should I give them? Are they taking my energy and attention away from the relationships and work I am called to do? These are questions I am continually asking myself, now more than ever.
Head in the Sand
The world says I shouldn’t put my ‘head in the sand’. But through the internet we have access to unprecedented amounts of information and news, and it’s easy to feel pressure to have to digest it all. There is also pressure from social media to prove how compassionate I am by not turning away from any cause or tragedy. I don’t want to close my eyes to the suffering around me, but now that the internet gives us access to the entire world’s suffering, my heart is easily overwhelmed.
Truth vs Facts
The facts of my circumstances must be acknowledged, as well as my feelings. But I am learning that the facts are not the same as the truth. The truth is the stable foundation that doesn’t change with my circumstances. As a Christian, I believe that God is Love and we are not alone. That is the paradigm through which I view the facts of my situation. That is the Truth that I choose to behold. When I’m facing a loss or a stressful situation, I don’t deny it. I allow myself to see the facts and feel what I feel. In the past, those feelings would overwhelm me and I would get stuck. But since Covid, I have become more intentional of setting my gaze on the Truth. For the sake of my mental health, as well as my ability to bring hope and encouragement to others, I must carefully evaluate what I ‘behold’.
We Become What We Behold
There is a proverb in the Bible that I have been meditating on during this season. “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). I am responsible for what I focus on, what I give my attention to. What I continually give my attention to will change who I am. Whatever I am “full of” will overflow to the people in our community. I want to be full of life, love and hope. That doesn’t mean I’m going to deny what’s going on in the world or in my life. It doesn’t mean pretending I’m fine when I’m not. I still want to be real. But in the midst of the reality, I will spend more time beholding the truth.
What about you? What are you beholding and how is impacting you?