Distraction Produces Less Than The Best

We sat around the table reminiscing about childhood school experiences. And as you would guess, there was a mixture of laughter and shock as my daughters shared their memories. During a rare break in the chatter, daughter Number 3 said, “This is crazy, but one of the biggest lessons I learned in school was in Mrs. Yochim’s English class. We were numbering a page for a test, and she said, ‘To keep the numbers going straight along the edge, always look back to the number 1.’” Ashley went on to say how many times and in different ways that rule has applied to her life. “I always hear Mrs. Yochim’s voice in my head, saying, look at the number 1. That should be your focus.”

Weeks have passed since that family gathering, but her words keep tumbling around in my head.  Look at the number 1…

Ashley was right. That word of advice applies to many things in life.

That rule applies to carpentry work. When sawing multiple pieces of wood to the same size, always look back to the first section cut. Don’t pattern after the last piece. If you do, you’ll have various sizes of wood by the time you are done and a very wonky finished product.

That rule applies to sewing work. When cutting quilt blocks, always refer back to the first square cut. Don’t cut this piece from the last block. Cut it from the first one. Always. Or you’ll end up with a “crazy” quilt, and not the kind your Grandmother made.

When we look away from the pattern, the results are less than desirable — not what we were hoping for at all. Because our focus was distracted, we end up with something much less than the best.

Further thought has brought this question to mind:  What am I looking at? What or Who am I “patterning” myself after?

Where is my Number 1?

Do I want to be like the person standing next to me?  Whether it be a spouse, best friend, co-worker, or even a boss? Is my focus on her/him? Do I long to sing like her? Or write like her? Am I buying the latest fashions or makeup because I want to look like someone I saw in a magazine or TV commercial?

Culture is screaming for our attention. Look at this! Look at her! Be this! Be that!

And tomorrow, it’ll be a new this and that.

Always changing.

And moving away from the original pattern.

What do I want people to see when they look at me? Who do I want them to see? My mentor? My best friend? I have an amazing mentor and a beautiful best friend. I would be honored to be compared with either one of them. But are they truly my Number 1? No, I don’t think so. When people look at me, I want them to see Jesus.

He’s my Number 1.  He should be my focus.

But what does that pattern look like?  Well, from Scripture, we know that Jesus was kind and patient. He was loving and respectful. Generous. Faithful. Aware. Steadfast. Tender and full of hope and mercy and compassion.

We also read that He never changes. Can I get an “Amen” for that! His pattern is pure and good. Always.

And that is just a glimpse of him. There’s so much more, but if my eyes stray to the world, I’ll miss it.

I’ll mess up.

And my finished product will be so much less than the best.

“Always look to the Number 1.  That should be your focus.”

Thank you, Mrs. Yochim. You were such a good teacher.


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