Hello Reader! How many times do you “find” yourself ruminating on things in your own life or things that you would like to see differently? If you have a similar personality type that loves to constantly improve, like mine, that would be multiple times an hour. Looking down to mind our next steps and looking within ourselves is helpful in doses.
Now, what would it take to use that for good, as in looking up and out?
A few months ago I felt this invitation within my soul to do just that and it’s made a difference for me to harness the strength of the way God made my personality.
I find that this isn’t about me thinking more of others or serving others. When I thought first about the invitation to look up and out I wondered if that meant think more of others. This is really more about recognizing God’s shared yoke and his promised provision for current and long-term things. When I have that confidence for my needs, I am more free to communicate hope, to offer care, to encourage and live bravely.
This might not resonate with you as much as it did me so let me know if these next steps are helpful or not!
When we look down and in, what happens?
- We see what’s right within our own space
- We see what’s going on inside our own heads and hearts
- We see a limited range
- This “vision focus” is not a place we find ourselves but a long-term trained habit that can be switched.
When we look up and out, what happens?
- We see others
- We see what’s coming up
- We see a long-term perspective
- This comes out of finding God in the midst of everyday and every need so that you can have both the capacity and the re-trained ability to see beyond the current needs.
- How does looking down and in help you? When have you spent more time looking up and out, and how was that for you?
- As a believer in Christ, this isn’t just thought renewal but more about identity renewal. Look through the verses Matt 11:28-30; Col 1:24-29; Romans 12:2; John 6:25-35; 1 Cor. 6:12-20; Gal 2:20; and Col 3:1-4:1. What do you see in these about who you ARE?
- Where do you see the tension between taking care of your own stuff and caring for others?
- When you think about God, are those images of him from your own experiences (down & in) or from what he’s said about himself (up & out)?If they are from within, consider writing those images you have of God and then asking God to help you see him as he is, then find scripture that shows you who he is to help reframe to a true perspective.
It’s absolutely important to take care of ourselves before caring for others, so looking down and in is helpful in the proper context. This context is framed with our true identity in Christ, the love for ourselves that God has shown us, the relationship with our Good Shepherd, and the life in healthy Christ-community. This helps us find who we really are and begin to develop our own voice. When that strength is re-found, then looking out and up becomes a natural outflow that looks like vision, hope, faith, and love. Then as we continue to develop our voice, we naturally impact our world through the unique life we each have been given.
Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is counselor, coach and creative who is passionate about people. She directs the Streams Counseling Center in Austin, Texas and co-leads the non-profit Renue.Me whose mission is to invest in the dreams of leaders in underprivileged communities around the world. Connect with her at www.lizlawrencelpc.com or www.renue.me
- graphic by Author on Canva