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
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter, remembering in thankfulness, the sacrifice of love that Jesus gave to and for us.
As promised, my friend Pam Thorson, has graciously written a wonderful post for us. As I read her words, my heart was deeply moved, and I pray yours is too.
(Photo courtesy Grace Thorson/copyright2013)
Who knows how it grew out of the rock,
encased on all sides,
Gnarled branches bore stunted needles,
solemn witness to the battles it had borne.
Its tortured trunk twisted toward heaven,
bowed against the merciless wind tearing at its roots.
Always, it fought to right itself,
to reach again toward the light;
silent witness to the power of life;
a thing of beauty because of its scars.
-Pam Thorson, “The Beautiful Broken”
Excerpted from Out from the Shadows
It is Never for Nothing
Have you ever done something you regretted? Have you been scarred emotionally or physically by events beyond your control? Did you feel helpless and alone?
You would hardly be human if you haven’t experienced brokenness. We all live with regret. Most of us look back upon our lives at some point and struggle to understand where God was when we were hurting.
I had wonderful parents as a child. But in school I experienced much heartache at the hands of bullies. I was small and timid. We moved a lot, and I always felt so lost and alone—the outsider on every school yard.
That feeling followed me into adulthood. Then God intervened. I can still remember the moment, as a young wife and mom, that I comprehended the message of the gospel. The relief and joy of receiving God’s forgiveness for my sins was indescribable. Receiving a new identity and a new life was incredible. I was sure I would never feel lost again.
But I soon discovered that being a Christian didn’t exempt me from sorrow. I learned that walking with God is often a hard journey, and though He makes our paths straight, they’re still rocky. I realized that disappointment is often the companion to miracles.
Over the years, I learned to praise God for His deliverance through each trial. But I wondered how to live with the battle scars.
It never occurred to me to embrace them.
Now, years later, I’m beginning to understand. Nothing that has happened to me is without purpose. Everything I’ve experienced, good or bad, before and after the moment of my salvation, has made me who I am today.
In the same way that a tree is shaped by the elements as it grows toward the light, I am being shaped by the elements of adversity and blessing. All things work for my good, we are told in Romans 8:28. That means I can trust God to turn everything I experience into growth for His glory as I reach upward toward Him.
In the past, I was ashamed of the scars I bore from the twists and turns in my life. But I see now that God looks upon my heart and knows I’m shaping up just fine. I am the Creator’s masterpiece: the beautiful broken.
In her new book, Out from the Shadows, Pam shares how God uses our life circumstances to form the qualities He wants to develop in us. “Never for Nothing” and thirty other devotions lift back the veil on the struggles and joys of caring for others to reveal God’s great love for us. Pick up a copy ($8.96 paperback; $2.99 kindle) today at http://www.amazon.com/Out-Shadows-Pamela-Thorson
Pam Thorson is a licensed practical nurse, author, speaker, and full-time caregiver. She pioneered in the homeschooling movement from 1982-2006 and authored her first book, Song in the Night, in 2008. Her newest book, Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), released March 28. Pam resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Contact her at www.pamthorson.com.
What a wonderful God we serve! Make sure to check out Pam’s wonderful book, Out from the Shadows, and visit her website. She will also have another guest post for us later this week, so be sure to check back here as well.
May God cover you all with many blessings this week. – Amber