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By Eric A. Clayton

“Your focus determines your reality.”

Arguably one of the most spiritually resonant lines in all of Star Wars, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn offers these words as both comfort and insight to a very young Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.”

(C’mon — this Saturday is May the Fourth, aka Star Wars Day. You knew this week’s reflection was going to be Star Wars themed!)

This advice is not magical thinking nor some Jedi mind trick. The Jedi Master is simply reminding us that what consumes our attention will affect our daily lives — and more importantly, how we live out both the ordinary and the extraordinary moments found therein.

Qui-Gon’s words reflect the sentiments of the great Jesuit prayer by Joseph Whelan, SJ: “Fall in Love.”

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning…and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Your focus determines your reality, and your reality — the mundane day-to-day — is where you make the decisions and cultivate the dispositions that will dictate who you are and how you are in the world.

So, where do you give your attention? How do you use that oh-so-limited resource: your focus? And what occurs as a result?

We can reflect upon how we divvy up our attention between work and family, between studies and leisure. Do you scroll mindlessly through one social app after the next, or do you go for a walk in the woods? How do you spend your money, your time, your talent?

These questions are good and helpful, but I want to offer you a different exercise: How does the way you focus on yourself determine your own reality? Here are some questions for reflection:

• Do I focus on my shortcomings and supposed failures? Or, do I focus on my gifts and talents?
• Do I tell myself that I am a failure, or do I remind myself that I am indeed the beloved of God, the God who delights in all that I am?
• Do I give myself grace, permitting space to grow and develop and love? Or, do I immediately condemn myself after a mistake or misstep?
• Do I show myself love? Do I accept love from others? Or, do I cut myself off from the affection and concern of others?

Our focus determines our reality — or at least, how we perceive reality and ourselves. Because the truth is, we are the beloved of God, each and every one of us. But if we don’t focus on where God is showing us that love and delight, if we allow the enemy of our human nature to consume our attention with lies and venom, we won’t live out our truest vocation: that of God’s beloved.

Focus on God at work in your life; focus on God smiling on you with delight. That’s the reality we all share. And that’s the reality God desires to share with us.

In honor of Star Wars Day, we’re giving away a Jesuit Prize Pack! Click here to enter.

This reflection is part of the award-winning weekly email series, “Now Discern This.” If you’d like to get reflections like this one directly in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here.

a person smiling for the cameraEric A. Clayton is the award-winning author of Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith and My Life with the Jedi: The Spirituality of Star Wars, an exploration of Star Wars through the lens of Ignatian spirituality (Loyola Press). He is the deputy director of communications at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. His essays on spirituality, parenting and pop culture have appeared in America MagazineNational Catholic ReporterU.S. Catholic, Busted Halo and more, and he is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day, and Dork Side of the Force, where he blogs about Star Wars. His fiction has been published by Black Hare Press, Small Wonders Magazine, Air and Nothingness Press and more.  Sign up for his Substack “Story Scraps” here. He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife, two young daughters and their cat.