I grew up in a house with wing walls. They were popular in the late 70’s/early 80’s on brick houses. You’ve probably seen them before but didn’t really notice or didn’t have a name for them. They make the house look wider without adding actual house on either side. I know they were called wing walls because my parents would often say things like, “Don’t climb on the wing wall" or “Go bring me the wheelbarrow; it’s hidden behind the wing wall.” My dad built our house, so I assume it’s the actual term for this wonder of architecture that was so popular for a few years.
Early in our marriage, Ryan and I began playing a game when driving where we got points for every wing wall we saw. We didn’t realize how much we did it until Anna, who was about two, called from her carseat, “Wee wah!” It was a proud moment in our parenting. We knew we had made our little girl just as weird as us.
Recently, we took a construction detour through an old neighborhood and found a veritable treasure trove of glorious wing walls. It’s a game our whole family plays now and we take it pretty seriously. Like, if you saw the wing wall first, do you still get a point if someone else yelled it first? The answer is, of course, no. Although wing wall is just a silly car game, it made me think.
What if we approached more things in life as a game of “wing wall” in an old neighborhood? What I mean by that is, what if we were intentional, focused, and on the lookout for the things that really matter?
I’ve often been in situations where I had the opportunity to offer help or compassion, but I was too busy doing things of no significance at all. Times when I’m staring at my phone and my kids are begging me to watch them dance in the living room. When I want to get together with a friend, but not enough to actually open my schedule. How can I have a kingdom mindset when I run myself ragged most days doing things that won’t matter tomorrow?
I call my blog “Focus in the Fog” because in our day to day, it’s hard to find focus. Look around. Everything in our view seems important or at least loud and distracting. I could read hundreds of articles a day on the things that deserve my focus and find that none of them are the same. So how do we focus in the fog? How do we zero in on the wing walls and ignore the weird lawn ornaments that only distract? (The wing wall neighborhoods often have lawn ornaments too.)
I know to keep my Bible close. I don’t just mean physically close, but close to my mind and heart. God promises wisdom for those who pray for it. And he gives us that wisdom in his word. It's tough to worry about my kid's performance on the lacrosse field or whether or not I like the new worship song they introduced in church when I'm reading about Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalam or the early church being martyred in the name of Jesus. Being in the word daily helps me focus on things that are of Him and dismiss those that only distract or act as lawn ornaments.
I know to keep my friends close. Being connected to others helps me keep focus. If you're not in a group that meets regularly, make that an immediate priority. My group is made up of flawed people, but the critical mass moves us in the right direction. Other friend groups have critical mass that can go the other way. Love them, but don’t allow them to be your tribe or you’ll look like them in no time.
I know tomorrow is a new day. Focusing on God isn't a "one and done" victory. It's a daily decision that needs to be made. Some days, I'm going to mess it up. In fact, I'll do that more often than not, but tomorrow is a new opportunity to realign. I'll choose to have grace with myself instead of allowing guilt to keep me from living the life God wants for me.
I’ll still play wing wall. I bet you will too now that I brought them to your attention. My prayer is that it’ll be a reminder to keep my eyes focused on things that matter to God. Will you join me?