Your mind is an amazing thing.

It allows you to read this:

“I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid! Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?”

No doubt you’ve seen this or something like it before. One takeaway here: our minds are phenomenal.

I’m not going to pretend to know the complexities of our brains but there’s one thing I’ve observed: What you allow your mind to dwell on will greatly impact your heart.

Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?

The phrase, “I lift up my eyes,” was a common expression in Hebrew Scriptures. And it doesn’t just refer to your physical eyes. It was kind of the Hebrew way of expressing one of the greatest of human freedoms we have—the freedom to decide where you will place your mind. It’s the freedom to focus your attention.

You can choose to focus on suffering and loss and become cynical, or focus on grace and love and become grateful.

Let me give you an example from my own life. I recently noticed a pattern of my mind. I was continually focusing on judgmental Christians. I was focusing on a group of people that I think lack the grace and mercy God has called us to have for others. I focused on them to the point that it started to raise a lot of questions for me. Is the church greatly flawed? Why does the movement of Christianity tend to produce people who start with grace but quickly move on to keeping score and judging others to make themselves feel better about themselves?

But then I started to lift my eyes. I started to focus my mind, not on people, but on God. And instead of focusing on judgment, the more I focused on God, the more I focused on His grace and His love. This also brought up a series of questions for me, but they were much different questions. The questions were more like, “why would an all powerful, holy God, ever flood me with a love I clearly don’t deserve? Why would this God be so for my future when I mishandled my past?”

You see, by refocusing my mind, it still brought up questions, but they were different questions. And these different questions didn’t lead to overbearing cynicism— they led to overwhelming gratitude.

This is an amazing human freedom. We get to choose what we focus on!!

You can focus your attention on other people’s judgment…or on God’s grace.

You can focus your attention on that relationship that feels like it’s falling apart and the feeling that you’re going to be all alone…or on God’s promise that He’ll never leave you or forsake you.

You can focus your attention on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and whatever else that seduces you into comparison…or allow your mind to rest in the quiet places where your Creator reminds you of the uniqueness in which He’s made you.

And yes, it can be very difficult amidst tough circumstances. Some days, it feels like hope is just a thing of the past. But what you allow yourself to focus on is still in your control. It’s your choice.

What you choose to allow your mind to settle in will directly impact and shape that heart of yours.