Some women get midlife cars; others get midlife cameras.

Never heard of them? Sure you have. They’re those jazzy little marvels of technology that fit in the palm of your hand or the pit of your purse. They come in trendy metallic hues of pink or lime green or Mustang convertible red.

I received mine for Christmas, my first new camera since the Ice Ages when everyone used Kodachrome.  It’s been sitting there in its little red fabric case for nearly six weeks now because I, perfectionist that I am, wanted to read, highlight, and underscore the little instructional booklet that came with it (in English and in Spanish) before I touched the thing.

Finally my long-suffering husband sat me down the other night and, with infinite patience, demonstrated that all I really need to know (forget the Spanish) is how to turn the camera on, point it at my hapless subject, and click. Later on I can figure out how to take advantage of all the extra things it can do, like shooting movies and eliminating red-eyes and maybe even cooking supper.

The only thing my little Nikon can’t do is decide where I’m going to focus my gaze.

Choosing where to focus is a decision we make every day of our lives. Our view of reality is filtered through a blend of past experiences, perceptions and even prejudices. It’s easy to become so distracted by the swirl of activity around us that we lose our focus entirely on the things that are truly important.

A wise man named Paul once wrote in a letter to the people of Philippi that a right focus is crucial to right thinking. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Don’t dwell on the negative, in other words, lest you become negative yourself.

In his book The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life, author Tommy Newberry notes that all lasting change is preceded by changed thinking. “Our dominant inner thought becomes our outer reality,” he writes. “You must become intentional about mirroring [God’s] image in all you do. Nowhere is this more important than in your thought life. As your thoughts reflect God’s thoughts, not only will you glorify God, but you will also increase your positive influence on those you love.”

Negative people and situations used to have a way of tripping my (in)security switch, but my jazzy little midlife camera is reminding me that I have a choice when it comes to where I want to focus.