I did something tonight that I haven’t done in a long time. I played pool! David and I met our oldest daughter, Britt, for dinner. We played three games of pool--none of which I won. I did get several balls in the pocket though--a feat that I didn't expect!
While we were playing, Britt (who loves games!) mentioned that she has discovered it's better not to focus on the cue ball but the ball you are trying to get in the pocket. I tried her tactic and found it really worked! When I hit the cue ball with the stick, I focused on the ball I wanted to strike, and….well, a few times I was actually successful.
It is interesting how sometimes it works better not to focus on the immediate but the ultimate—not what's in your way but what you want to happen. As I was pondering this, I thought about the goal of spiritual formation. As I understand it, it's to develop and express the character of Christ through my own unique personhood. So, if that is the goal, the "eight ball in the pocket," is that what I typically focus on?
Far too often, I focus on the cue ball—that which gets in the way of me becoming my true self in Christ. I get preoccupied with all of my stuff. I focus on trying to reform my bad habits and character deficiencies instead of keeping my eye on the ball of who I am to become. I’m not saying that if I do that formation will come easily. Like with pool, it takes lots of intention and practice. But I do believe it happens best by keeping my eye on the eight ball!