My grandparents lived on a farm outside Macon, Mississippi that was just a few acres of pasture with a small herd of cattle my Dad nurtured. As a child, I spent most weekends there enjoying the special attention of my grandfather and indulging in the few tomboy traits I possess.
Saturday adventures with Grandaddy would sometimes include a trek through the pasture behind the house or behind the beagle pens. As I walked or ran or jumped along, carefree and fascinated by thistle bushes, I would inevitably hear “You’ll cut your foot!”
Now, I’ll leave to your imagination a picture of the pitfalls (or piles) to which my grandfather was referring – the ones littering the grass of a cow pasture. Needless to say, I was oblivious to the stinky mess that awaited my Buster Browns. “You’ll cut your foot” was Grandaddy’s code phrase of sorts, a warning the entire family had learned to interpret as “look down, now.” It was a call to pay attention, because every step isn’t necessarily a solid one. But, when you’re walking through a cow pasture, what do you expect?
As I think about paying attention and absorbing so much of the world around me with intention, I can hear a warning in my mind – “You’ll cut your eyes!” The fact is; there are a lot of well-manicured lawns out there, a lot of beautiful, worthy landscapes… and a lot of cow pastures. Not everything – every site, every book, every picture, every news item, every tv show, every personal attitude, every opinion – is worthy of my attention.
My dictionary widget describes a worthless thing as something without value or use. Some pursuits are profit-less, of no benefit, even detrimental. Why would I want to muddy my vision and stink up my perspective by spending my attention on what is worthless?
It’s true that determining what is valuable is somewhat of a subjective thing. However, I believe that there are some core universal “things” of value:
Not necessarily their ideas or attitudes or opinions – there’s plenty of stinkiness there – but, people. The Bible teaches that because God created each of us (knit us together in our mother’s wombs [psalm 139]), each individual is a soul, a unique person of infinite worth to God. If it matters to Him, then it ought to matter to me.
It doesn’t change. If it’s true, it’s always true. If it’s not, it never is. The Bible teaches that the word of God will stand forever. To me, that’s the best source of what is true and what is false, and the more relative aspects of what is worthy and what is garbage.
Beyond those universals, I’m left to create my own filtering system of value, a visionometer of what is worthy of attention. I can wisely use this verse as a good guideline:
Whatever is true
whatever is honorable
whatever is right
whatever is pure
whatever is lovely
whatever is of good repute
if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise,
dwell on these things.
This verse is not to say that I should ignore everything ugly or disturbing around me and only “see” the pretty stuff. That’s not just naive; it’s ridiculous. But, even the ugly, hard things can lead us to a place of truth, honor, and purity. It’s up to me to determine if the potential is there.
I’m still working on that visionometer, but my goal for myself and for EyeJunkie is to commit with Israel’s King David, the poet, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.” (psalm 101:3)