Chewing Batteries—And Other Toxic Sludge
Apr 22, 2017 03:28AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
There’s a good reason we keep our remote controls high on shelves in our family room. My dogs function more as cats because of their small size, and they often knock over the remotes for fun and watch the batteries roll out. If we do not quickly pick them up, they have been known to grab one and hoard it in their crates. We have found teeth marks on a few of them.
Okay, so Shih Tzus have small brains. That’s the only reason I can think of why they would chomp down on something so potentially hazardous. If they worked enough on it, they could find their way to the acid inside, which would not be a pleasant surprise.
The canine (get my pun?) marks on those double-As are a good reminder for me most days. Do I feed off toxic sludge willfully? Hoarding my stash, nibbling in private, settling for less than God’s best for me?
It doesn’t take much, does it? We could turn on any political show, news channel, or social media feed. Or we could simply walk into the local coffee shop or not look away when a friend texts a piece of gossip about someone of our mutual acquaintance.
Not only is it the input we receive on several channels of public and media noise around us that can be detrimental, but we also can chew on negative thinking. Insecurities. Self-doubt. Speculation. Assumptions. Ever receive someone else’s long list of concerns about you, only to realize that they have been building a story in their heads that doesn't fully or in any way match your reality? We all have been on both ends of that. Truth and reality can be worlds apart. The only One who has cornered the market on Truth is God.
John 14:6, ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Our minds need the watering can of God’s Spirit, life- and light-giving name, and Word.
Psalm 119:105, ESV
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Only then can our way be “prosperous.”
Joshua 1:8, ESV
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Only then are we ingesting that which equips us for God’s purposes. Anything else offers empty spiritual calories.
2 Timothy 3:14-17, ESV
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
We don’t let our dogs eat table scraps. It has always been an important rule we follow. We’ve told the kids it could mean the difference of a few years of their lives—and the quality of those years. If we give them portioned meals twice a day, plenty of water, exercise, and healthy dog treats in moderation, they can thrive, be their best, live longer lives (in theory), and experience the most a Shih Tzu life has to offer. Healthy nails, skin, fur, minds, hearts, organs, bones, blood.
So why is it that we veer from our own diet of spiritual health? Why do the “batteries” of negative conversations and fear-mongering become a great distraction to us? Why do we gnaw on what could eventually sour our mouths and minds when God’s life-giving Word is right in front of us?
What we put into our mouths, minds, and hearts yields results. Do we want to participate in a culture of anger, polarity, self-centeredness, greed, jealousy, and bitterness, or do we want to “put out” something different?
Ephesians 4:29-31, ESV
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Something constructive, life-giving, healing?
Proverbs 18:21, ESV
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
It requires self-control and receiving proper nourishment, which can only come from God.
Philippians 4:8, ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Negative thinking comes easily to me. For a long time, it was almost a pastime. I would shove ahead to the worst-case scenario in an anxiety spin. Assuming a lack of trust of most everyone was a defensive posture from which I learned to cope. Believing a bad word said about me—or to me—was a hobby, really. Absorbing a lack of acceptance, betrayal, abandonment—because I’m a deep feeler—well, suffice it to say I could nibble on that for hours.
See where I’m going with this?
We can also take in identity sludge that doesn’t match who Christ says that we are. When we do that, we are letting false substitutes of our purposes as created beings of a loving Creator fade our vision of His Truth. We are digesting acid that erodes at who we are.
It needs to stop.
We do not need to chew what is not good for us. Why?
· It’s harmful.
· It isolates us and polarizes those around us.
· We end up hiding the hope we carry within us.
· We set a poor example to the next generation.
The answer is simple. We need to be turning from Negative Speak and supping on the manna from heaven that sustains. When we do that, we are equipped with the Word He offers us, so we, in turn, can pass it on to others. What we feed on is what we become.
Deuteronomy 8:3, ESV
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Jesus is the Word. It is the only one we should be speaking.
John 1:1, ESV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.