I’ve been meaning to write this post for a week, but between unexpected encounters, start of a new training cycle, and partly just sheer laziness I haven’t sat down for the time needed to write. But here I am, Sunday afternoon, refreshed and relaxed and ready to share the lesson God taught (well reiterated, like He so often does) to me.

It was a Friday morning jump session and we found ourselves at Grand Canyon University due to some maintenance at our usual gathering grounds. The session was going swimmingly; moving back strides, learning new maneuvers, and making headway in learning this thing called pole vault. Then out of nowhere I ran through. Meaning instead of planting the pole in the box, taking off the ground, and actually pole vaulting… I dropped my pole and just kept running onto the mat. I know, silly right? You’re supposed to jump OVER the bar, not run underneath it! Well three or four more times this happened and now my body was starting to get tense and I was questioning what the heck was happening. A moment before I’d been vaulting extremely confidently and well; next thing you know, I couldn’t jump. I took another attempt, and during the run, realized my gaze had shifted downward towards the box that you plant your pole in. Instead of keeping my eyes above and beyond the box, I was looking straight at it. As I ran down the runway the box was becoming bigger very quickly. My perception was telling me “you are moving too fast, you cannot do this!” And it clicked! That subtle shift of gaze was having huge impacts! Instead of running full speed, my stride was slowing down towards the take off point. My eyes saw the take off point coming quickly while my brain was processing just a half click behind, sending the signal to back off. That shift of gaze was making me loose the momentum I needed to complete the task.

The next jump I lifted my gaze, looking above the box and through the pit, and almost instinctively I took off the ground.

A subtle shift with tremendous impacts.

All weekend I was thinking about what a simple but profound lesson that was. How often in life do we have a goal, or a task, or a circumstance that needs completing… yet when our gaze is directly on the situation we become overwhelmed with questions, or hesitations, or fears about completing what we know needs to happen. As we move closer, the situation becomes bigger and our brains can’t process quick enough. We back off. We loose momentum. We struggle with tension. And more often than not we end up “dropping the pole”. The thing we were called to do, the situation we planned on fixing, the job we set out to accomplish, the relationship we meant to restore, the degree we wanted to earn, the vault we had planned on taking, all become paralyzing…

Yet with a subtle shift of focus, I wonder how many of those things would almost instinctively happen??

The problem doesn’t lie in the situation itself, the problem lies in our focal point. Instead of looking straight at our situation, let’s try and look above and beyond. Instead of watching the situation grow too large too fast, let’s keep our eyes above and run full speed. I would venture to say that we would be surprised at the ease in which we run our race. Will we still have to practice? Will we still have things to learn? Will there still be bumps in the road? Oh yeah. But we would no longer be paralyzed. We would see growth. And even better than that, we might find we could actually SOAR!

You are loved! Keep your gaze up!