“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
For those of you who grew up in the 80’s, maybe you will remember what GIGO means. It is a term that I learned while taking computer “programming,” classes, because there was no such thing as user friendly software at the time. Who remembers writing those old operations on BASIC like:
To get the answer 4? It was then that I learned the important concept of “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” This means that if the foundational parts of your equation are wrong, then your final result will always be wrong as well.
It is on my spiritual journey that I have found this to be true in all circumstances. One thing, in particular, that I have become keenly aware of in the last few years is what I allow into my mind. I am thoroughly convinced that the images and ideas that I fill my mind with will determine who I am in the future.
Memory is a powerful thing. It can overtake you at any moment it chooses. Thoughts and emotions can be triggered by the slightest cause, and many times I am unable to stop it. I am held captive either for the good or the negative. For example, I have a tan overcoat. And every time I wear it in the wind, I am transported back to a particularly painful experience in my past. Why? Because one of the strongest memories of that day, as horrible as it was, was standing in the wind trying to make sense of it all. And I have an image in my mind of watching the belt from that coat blowing in the cold wind around me as I stood outside and struggled to figure out what I should do next. Whenever I feel the wind whipping around me in that coat, I am overcome by emotions like despair and confusion. And there is nothing I can do to prevent it, the memories just come on their own.
A more pleasant memory is the smell of crayons. They immediately transport me back to elementary school, bringing with them the joy and excitement of starting a new school year and getting that new box of 64 Crayolas with the built-in sharpener. Ah, the sweetness of chocolate milk and nap time for a 6-year-old.
Memories are powerful. And our brains are designed to store pretty much everything we come into contact with, in case we need the information for later.
So, I have begun to really pay attention to what I put into my mind. I only want things that will be a positive addition to my life. I only want things that will draw me closer to Christ. I only want things that will strengthen and deepen my relationships. Unfortunately, most of what I see on tv does the exact opposite. While I was growing up, I remember my dad covering my ears when someone used bad language on tv. I wonder, if he were watching with me today, would he be covering my eyes too?
90% of what I see on tv today is pure garbage; greed, lust, deceit, anger, sex without boundaries, egos running rampant… I am convinced that if I allow contemporary media to control the images in my mind, that I would soon be just as “me centered” as these folks being transmitted over my air waves. I am sure that I would begin to find many behaviors acceptable, because I would become de-sensitized to their depravity. I am sure that I would become discontent, because every life I see on tv appears to be much more materially rich than mine. I am sure that my marriage would suffer, because my image of true love would be distorted to look like some romantic contrivance that always has roses and happy endings.
My journey has led me to see what this world is capable of doing to my mind. And all these negativities will plant themselves in my heart, my attitudes and my actions. So, I am trying intently to stay away from those things that I used to call harmless fun, and to focus on those things that will lead me to my ultimate goal: peace, fulfillment, and harmony in my life and relationships. And by God’s grace, I think I am getting there.