My in-laws have a painting in their living room of a cowboy and two horses riding through the snow and trees.

At least, that’s what I see. And that’s all I see.

But if you ask the rest of the family, they’ll talk about the indian and three eagles staring at the cowboy.

Now, I’m usually pretty good at seeing hidden pictures. In those letter games, I can find the M in the sea of W’s.

But this painting stumps me.

Every. Single. Time.

I squint my eyes. Open them wide. Tilt my head to the left. To the right. Move forward. Backward. But I don’t see it.

Finally, Jay points at the painting (while laughing at me) and says, “This is one eagle’s eye. And here’s the indian’s nose.”

And then, as if the indian and eagles raise off the paper, it becomes clear.

My eyes change focus ever so slightly, and I see what was once hidden.

A few days ago, I read a post where a wife talked about all the small simple ways her husband loved her. She saw his good qualities because she wanted to. She chose to look for them instead of picking out only the bad. (You can read the post here.

After reading it, I held my head a little higher and patted myself on the back.

Appreciate Jay? Check.

Focus on all the little ways he loves me? No problem.

But then…

Have you ever been thumped hard in the middle of your forehead? Well, that’s kind of what God did next.

My plan for this post was to talk about how we need to focus on the good God does in our lives instead of only seeing where we think He’s failed us. True, right?

Then came the thump.

I’d spent a significant amount of time the last few days stewing over something. Solely focused on the bad.

Here I was, about to write how we need to choose to see the good, but I was doing the exact opposite. Ouch.

(For the record, that happens a lot. If I’m writing about it, God is usually working on me to smooth out that particular rough edge.)

But how do we do it? How do we get our focus right, so we see the, seemingly hidden, good in a person or situation?

You know those cool photographs where everything is blurred, except the very front image. Like if a baseball player holds a baseball out in front of him, the baseball is in focus, but the player and the rest of the background are blurry.

This is achieved is by changing the depth of field. (Yes, Google taught me that.) With a deep depth of field, more of the photo is in focus. A shallow depth of field blurs everything except what is front and center. Sometimes, we get so zoned in on a specific thing someone did to us or a single bad thing in our lives, we need to increase our depth of field. Our focus doesn’t need to be on what is front and center in our minds, but on the bigger picture. Once we’ve “zoomed out,” loving gestures, answered prayers, and other good things come into focus.

At times though, our minds won’t want to change it’s focus. Like I did with that blasted painting, sometimes we need help. It may take others pointing out small pieces of the hidden.

Through lots of prayer and work, we can see the good in what seems like a sea of bad.

It may not jump off the paper. We may have to search, stare, and work at it.

Jay and the rest of my family automatically see the indian and eagles because they grew up looking at that painting. They learned to see the hidden and looked at it every day. Now, they can’t un-see it. When they look at that painting, the indian and eagles are just as clear to them as the cowboy and his horses.

How wonderful would it be if we automatically saw the hidden good in every person and every situation? Maybe that should be what we strive for? (I’m sure my forehead would thank me.)

Today, is there someone that you struggle to see good in? A friend? Spouse? Child? Parent? Or God?

Or has life in general gotten you down? Do you feel like God has forgotten about you?

It’s easier to stay focused on the bad. We all know that. It’s a struggle to zoom out and search for good. But isn’t it worth it? It’s a miserable life to only see negative.

My prayer is that we’ll all strive to automatically see the good in every person and every situation.

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