Ann Spangler

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and speaker.

Fixated

a laser beam points at the pupil of a blue eye

Have you ever tried shining a small laser beam to see if your dog will play with it as it bounces across the floor? This little prank inspires gales of laughter from my oldest daughter, who delights in finding dogs that are compulsive enough to take the bait. It is amusing to watch them pounce—first this way, then that—in their quest to capture the elusive red light. The only problem is that playing with dogs in this way seems to increase their compulsiveness.

Human beings can act as compulsively as puppies at times, becoming fixated on things we think will make us happy. You see it in the lives of celebrities who wreck their lives and relationships in pursuit of success. Or business executives who, despite their wealth, are consumed with greed. And what about ordinary people like us? Some of us suffer from small compulsions—feeding an addiction to shopping, for instance—because it yields a burst of positive feelings. Others among us may fixate on finding the right man, bouncing from relationship to relationship or refusing happiness as a result of this obsession.

Fixations are like targets attached to a brick wall. No matter how many times we aim at the bull’s-eye, even the sharpest arrows fall to the ground.

I must confess that I have my own fixations. Their names are Katie and Luci. I want my daughters to be happy, good, successful, prosperous. The trouble is, no matter how hard I try, I can’t make their lives conform to my ideal, regardless of how much I pray for them, plead with them, or try to help them. Perhaps it’s time to take the target off the wall, lay down my bow, and ask God to dismantle the brick wall. Doing so doesn’t mean I stop working and praying on behalf of my children; it simply means I am choosing not to fixate on a goal I’m not capable of achieving.

What about you? What targets are you aiming for? Have they kept you from knowing more of God’s peace? If so, tell God you want him to tear down those targets so you can instead take aim at things like seeking first his Kingdom and doing his will.

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