Theology in the Trenches: I Gotta Switch My Focus

Kathleen Kjolhaug
Religion Columnist

As I brush my teeth, reflecting back in the mirror before me is one slightly crooked tooth. I play with that tooth many times a day. Sometimes I find my finger putting pressure upon it, hoping it might help put it back in its place.

Truth is … that tooth didn’t used to be crooked. As I’ve aged, my teeth have shifted and now, one is pushing for its rite of passage by forcing its way up and over the other. If I open my mouth wide enough, sure enough, I see a couple more that have etched their way out of position. My tongue makes its way around the unevenness, and as soon as my obsession takes over, I have myself believing the whole world is actually noticing the misfits.

I suppose it all started my senior year of college when an acquaintance of an acquaintance stood before me with his perfectly orchestrated set of pearly whites and said, “Why, I never noticed before, but you have a crooked front tooth.” 

He paused just long enough to take a closer look. Mortified, I escaped the scene without giving voice to the fact that his words hurt.

Years later, long after that tooth was put in its proper place, these others have come to my attention. What bothers me most is that it bothers me. It bothers me that I am focusing on what is wrong instead of what is right.

Today, I decided to switch it up and spend my time focusing on the ones that were in position. I turned my attention to the positives. An intentional shift in the thought process goes against the grain of a culture that puts much emphasis on the image of self. It’s a shift worthy of consideration.

To see ourselves as He sees us and not how we perceive ourselves to be is a gift. I’m going to intentionally practice seeing things how He sees them.

In fact, I’m going to shift my focus off of me altogether. As I shift my focus by taking my eyes off of self, I see more clearly the face of Christ in others. Seeing Him in whatever view is before me, brings everything into focus.

The Message, in Romans 3:31 says it this way … “by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, puts our entire way of life in its proper place, and we confirm it.” That’s a beautiful perspective.

“For marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:14). 


(Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)