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Family & Friends

Focusing and Refocusing, Adjusting and Readjusting

wiltsFocusing is a complex process. How many times a day do you stop and focus on something? Maybe you need to see a special store sign or read an email message. Maybe the room is noisy, and you need to focus your ears to hear an important announcement. Or how about focusing your emotional support on an activity or a dear friend? Our human brains and emotions are constantly being challenged and refocused to experience our daily lives, and our reactions and behaviors also need to readjust to new situations.

Focusing our emotions and feelings is similar to focusing my camera. Carolyn and I enjoy beautiful scenery, and I like to capture it with my camera. In the old days, I had to twist and turn the lens, while peering through the eye finder, to adjust my focus. If the picture were unclear, I could refocus and try again. Today’s modern cameras are computerized; and once I program and adjust several settings, the pictures are captured as desired.

The ability to focus on my own emotions and feelings hasn’t been changed; the genetic nerve wiring in my brain is the same one I was born with. I have to remind myself that my feelings and emotions are not controllable; they are real, not right or wrong! My reactions and behaviors are adjustable and changeable. With new information and understanding of complex situations, I can adjust and readjust my reactions and behaviors. 

With my new camera, I can capture a broad picture of a meadow, a lake and stream flowing from it, with wildflowers waving in the gentle breeze. Maybe there is a bird or deer in sight. And if I see something very special beneath a tree or up on the mountainside, I can adjust my camera lens. If I increase the magnification, suddenly I can capture the bird or momma doe with her fawn—bright, clear, and detailed.

When a family learns that one of their family members is LGBTQ+, their broad family image can become blurred and distorted. It can cause emotions and feelings to swing wildly from confusions, disbelief, or even fear because they haven’t learned how to adjust and refocus their emotion and feeling lenses. To start understanding and accepting their family member, their emotional lens needs to be refocused to see and understand their new details.    

When I learned our son Aric was gay, I only saw my broad picture of his loving friends, men and women. He had shared how he looked forward to being married and having a family. I knew he would be a great husband and father. My emotions and feelings swirled and tangled with what I had “seen” and what I was now “seeing”! I didn’t know how to refocus my emotion lenses; my brain camera was incomplete and shallow with real knowledge. I didn’t know how to readjust my behaviors and reactions. I quickly learned and desired to do that. He was my son; I loved him, and that didn’t change. 

Over time, I have learned valuable and meaningful information which helped my brain switch from black and white images to complex warm, colorful detailed thoughts and feelings about my son, our family, and his life and friends. Unfortunately, you can’t walk into a store or church to obtain those new focusing and adjusting tools. Genuine and meaningful friends and church leaders may not have updated their emotions and feelings lenses and readjusted their actions and reactions, either. 

It takes time, caring, and love to refocus our feelings, emotions, and thoughts. In fact, it probably will not be a one-time process, as our relationship and acceptance of our son. He and we had to continually refocus our feelings and thoughts and readjust our reactions and behaviors as we all experienced new situations.

Looking back, I am so glad I learned to enjoy refocusing and readjusting. It was very important for all of us: me, Carolyn, Aric, his friends and partners. My family brain camera became very multi-focusable; my memory film lost all black and white pictures and became a vast library of multicolored tapestries of family adventures, family support, family love, and acceptance. 

Jesus never looked the other way; and we, our family, and friends have all accepted Jesus’ attitudes and behaviors and never looked back. We only looked forward, refocusing and readjusting on loving our family, helping other families learn to refocus and readjust also. Let’s share Jesus’ example!

LET’S REFOCUS, READJUST, AND ENJOY OUR NEW FAMILY TAPESTRIES OF LOVE, UNDERSTANDING, ACCEPTANCE, AND SUPPORT.  

John and Carolyn Wilt
Family & Friends Coordinators
family-friends@sdakinship.org

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