There are so MANY words flying around. There are so MANY words claiming our attention, our agreement, and our engagement.
Has anyone else noticed?
I start to feel overwhelmed by them sometimes.
How do I choose?
How do I choose what to listen to, what to ignore, or what to combat?
I love words. I am a linguist after all. But sometimes my brain begins to feel deep-fat-fried, clogged up and unable to discern what really matters anymore. It takes me a while to realise that it is time to unplug, that it is time for me to step back from the social scene of reading, exchanging and absorbing opinions, of facts, motivational stories, and tragic events and it is time to retreat into a smaller world of just me and my loved ones, here and now, in the real world, in real relationships and real time. It is time, in fact, to clear out the rubbish. It is time to get my mind into proper functioning order again.
Social media promises so much but it doesn’t deliver. We don’t communicate more but less. We have greater numbers of friends but greater shallowness in friendships. The more people “like” us on social media, the less secure we become. I sometimes wonder if the disadvantages of being connected on social media really don’t outweigh the advantages. I am more and more convinced that time away from the world of social media is time well-spent. That is why I want to spend this Christmas season with a focus on off-screen life. I want to switch off and have a mind clear enough to absorb the real message and meaning of Christmas.
I want to hear the words of life my Saviour offers me. I want to listen and I want to hear. I have discovered that there are limits to the mental gymnastics my mind can do. I cannot endlessly feed my mind with all kinds of thoughts, impressions and opinions, without it having an impact. I cannot absorb God’s truth so readily when my mind has been filled with all kinds of other stuff, and all kinds of junk. Junk prepares my mind for junk. It gives me an appetite for junk. If I want truth in my mind, I need to learn to consistently fill my mind with it and I need to lessen my intake of other “stuff”. I am not going to find that kind of truth at WWW dot. I will find it in the Book on my bookshelf that I have been neglecting of late. I am more likely to find it when I unplug from the internet for a while.
But I shouldn’t expect instant results. After a steady diet of junk food, I will not be healthy after one good meal. Nor will I have an appetite for health food. Anyone who has ever dieted successfully knows that, for the good effects of a diet to last, we have to re-train ourselves to desire healthy food, broccoli and quinoa rather than hamburgers and fries. The same thing goes for what we feed our minds with. Social media is like McDonald’s for our minds. It’s fast, it’s flavoursome but it’s fatal for a healthy heart. I need to re-train my heart to desire truth above all else, God’s Word into my life and God’s perspective on my circumstances more than my friends’ emoticons and verbal pats on the back.
At the end of the day junk food doesn’t satisfy. It creates a craving for more and it clogs our pores and our arteries until we feel disgusted and disgusting. A good diet leaves us feeling satisfied and stops the whole craving cycle in its tracks.
This physical reality is a great picture of what happens to our souls when we find ourselves feeding on the wrong things. There is nothing wrong with being hungry. There is everything wrong with seeking for satisfaction in the wrong places. Isn’t it time we took as much interest in keeping our mental diet as healthy as the food we eat? I only see one place where we can eat and drink what will truly satisfy us and where we can be filled without being sickened.
“For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)
My trouble begins when I get empty and start looking for fulfilment in the wrong places. I set up a cycle of craving which becomes hard to break. Craving leads to wrong eating patterns which lead to craving. Ad nauseam. Literally.
We are entering the Christmas season, a season of excess for us in the Western world. Christmas has become an excuse to indulge, to overspend and to treat ourselves to all we deserve (or so the adverts go), “it is Christmas, after all!” While not suggesting that we follow the crowd in this, I would like to suggest a form of excess that will not harm us. What if we were to eat to excess from God’s Word this Christmas? It won’t give us spots, hangovers or a guilty conscience. On the other hand it might just help us clear out some of the rubbish that has accumulated in our hearts and minds. It might help us understand what Christmas is all about. But before we begin, we need to build up an appetite, even a hunger. Let’s not take the edge off our appetite anymore with the rubbish we take in. Let’s get nice and hungry so that we can have a true feast this Christmas!
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)