Posted by Amber Lea
Being a writer in this modern world often requires a certain amount of time spent on social media and the internet. I spend time reading articles, stories and news clips, as well as watching videos, gathering and researching information. And often, I find the content rewarding and uplifting.
However, there are times when it seems like most of what I see is negative, sad, hateful, disappointing, disgusting, or rude.
There have been certain news stories for instance, about people and events that are just so horrible that it is hard for my mind to conceive the reality of it. I find myself asking, “How could anyone do such a terrible thing”? I know the answer…because there is evil in the world. But knowing that does not make me feel any better.
Earlier this year, while I was gathering some information for an article I was working on, I read several stories that disturbed me deeply. Everywhere I looked, I found more bad news. With a seemingly constant bombardment of rancid content, I found myself being filled with hatred, disgust and contempt over the atrocities. The emotions going through my heart were so strong, I was physically shaking and began to feel quite sick.
I knew the feelings that I was experiencing were not good, and not according to God’s will. I know He doesn’t want for me to hate anyone. But with each story I read, each news clip and show I watched, I found it more difficult to let these negative emotions go. I decided I had to take a break for a while.
The main purpose of my writing is generally to encourage others and share hope through faith in Jesus, and sometimes a little humor to lift the spirits. In going back over the articles I had been writing, I could see a sourness in them that I knew was not what God wanted for me to share. By secular (worldly) standards, they were fine articles. But not by God’s standards. So I deleted them all.
As a result, I haven’t produced very much writing this summer. Like a drained battery, I needed to recharge myself, and my spirit.
I was reminded of what the bible says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (AMP)
I have spent the majority of this summer working on yard improvement projects, and spirit improvements as well. In reading and studying the bible, and through much prayer, I have found new strength and vitality in my spirit, along with renewed joy.
Two verses in particular had a profound impact on my heart in regards to what had been going on in my spirit:
Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23 AMP)
But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose; (Luke 21:34 AMP)
As I had been reading and watching negative stories, my thoughts became negative, and so did my heart. My writing (which comes from my heart) was also coming out negative.
I made an intentional change, a decision to “guard my heart”, in refraining from negative influences. In choosing to intentionally surround myself in positive and encouraging people, stories, songs and scriptures, my own spirit has become positive again.
It became very clear to me that what I allow into my mind (what I see and hear) has a very strong influence on my thoughts, which in turn, influences my heart. What is in my heart is what comes out of my mouth, (or written) what I share with others.
I’ve had to learn to not allow myself to be distracted by negative or ungodly images and postings. Sometimes that means scrolling past certain stories, pictures and videos. Sometimes it means turning the channel on the TV, or turning it off altogether. Sometimes it means closing the newspaper, and opening my bible.
It’s not that I’m trying to pretend that there is no evil in the world and that everything is fine. I know all too well bad things happen, evil does exist. But I can’t afford to let it infect my heart and suck all the joy and good things out of my spirit! I can choose what I look at and listen to, and I choose positive and encouraging things, and images that build love and hope.
What do you allow to influence your mind, and therefore your heart?
For parents, what do you allow to influence your children?
Posted by Amber Lea
With the invention of the internet and social media, today we literally have the world at our fingertips. And there is a full barrage of information available with it. It can be quite overwhelming at times. On Facebook alone there is a deluge of posts concerning everything from recipes, craft items, baby photos and such, to links to news articles regarding heinous crimes of rape, murder, torture, etc. It is the latter articles I would like to discuss.
In less than 30 minutes this morning, I read 3 different articles involving vile and evil acts committed by different individuals. And while I in no way, shape or form, condone the acts committed, there was something more that bothered me about these stories. It was in the responses left by many of the readers. Responses filled with hate.
Yes, these stories described horrible acts of violence toward innocent humans and animals. And no, I do not think these crimes should be dismissed, ignored, or go unpunished. While reading these stories a very deep sense of sorrow towards the victims was evoked in my heart, and even a sense of just rage. But I have to ask, where should that rage be focused?
I couldn’t help but notice the rage indicated in the readers’ comments. Several of the comments suggested torture, dismemberment and slow and painful death to the offenders. In these comments, the readers were exuding as much violence as the offenders themselves.
Should violence and hate be re-paid with more violence and hate? And will that solve the problem and make the world a better place for us?
The answer is no. It will not change the past, it will not make the future better, and it will not make the present any easier to live in.
The truth is that while it may be a sense of decency in a person’s heart that causes them to feel outraged over an atrocity, if they were to act on that violent rage, that seed of hatred would eventually rot away their soul. It would cause them to become no better than the very thing they hated. And the hatred continues to grow and spread. It will not make anything better, not even for the victims.
As a Christian, I was reminded of three things I have learned from the bible:
- To hate the sin, not the sinner. (James 5:19-20 AMP)
- Do not re-pay evil with evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 KJV)
- Overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21 KJV)
Evil was unleashed in the world a long time ago, and it is alive and thriving at an unprecedented rate today. The enemy has many weapons and tactics to use against believers and non-believers alike, aimed directly at our hearts. He knows that if he can cause intense enough emotions in us, then we may stumble and fall into his traps.
I’ll admit, to obey the above three verses is impossible for me, apart from God’s Holy Spirit inside of me. The enemy is very clever in appealing to my sense of justice regarding what is right and fair. But through God’s wisdom I can see where the deceit is also appealing to a false sense of pride. Pride that causes me to think I have a right to sit in judgment over the sin of another. I might try to excuse that pride with thoughts such as, “I may not be perfect, but I’m not as bad as…” or “I could never do such a horrible thing myself”. And those thoughts would lead me to feeling justified in the desire to hate and seek revenge. Basically, I would be putting myself in God’s rightful place in judgment and sentencing.
The idea of forgiving those that would commit such atrocious acts of violence against an innocent being is a very hard concept to swallow. But one thing to consider is this: hate will only teach more hate and it will continue to spread to others. On the other hand, only by showing love can it be taught and spread. And forgiveness is a major part of love. It is the only way we can let go of the hate and overcome the evil.
Perhaps some of you that are reading this do not believe in God. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to convert you, that is not my job.) But I ask you to consider this…if you plant a tomato seed, do you expect it to grow cucumbers? Of course not. In the same manner, planting seeds of hate in your heart will not grow anything else but hate and no good can come from it. And if that is all we can show and teach, how can future generations learn anything but to hate more, becoming even more violent themselves? Isn’t inflicting that kind of hatred onto others or the next generation an act of violence in itself?
In conclusion, I ask anyone that might be reading this to consider it for a moment. Do you want to be like those offenders, spreading more violence and more hate? Or do you really want these atrocities to stop? One by one, one day at a time, we can make a difference with our own choices. Only love and wisdom can prevail.