By MANDY SAELER
When I was in elementary school, I enjoyed getting to stay home from school for sick-days. Apart from being excused from the daily grind and getting to spend the day with my mom, the highlight was watching Martha Stewart’s TV program that aired each morning at 10am. The creative projects of this domestic handy-woman inspired me, even as an 8-year-old! To this day, perusing photo-rich books on home improvements, flower arranging, and up-cycling leave my creative mind churning at the possibilities and itching for the next project! In order to maintain a proper focus in my life, I have to deliberately choose to turn the creative channel of my mind “off,” putting a stop to the inspirational meanderings of my mind.
Movies also get my heart reeling and I’ve found that after watching a movie, rather than being fully focused in my daily life, it can be easy for me to feast upon the emotional storyline and re-live the unfolding drama in my mind. . . as if Old Yeller was my dog that died. Though I am very choosy about what I partake of, even innocent classics or edifying Christian movies can be a distraction if I am not guarded in my thoughts after I’ve watched a movie.
Can you relate to any of the mind-churning, heart-reeling experiences that I’ve just described? It seems as though many of the entertainment outlets of our day have been specifically designed to allure us as women, out of reality and into distraction.
Anything that we allow to steal the attention of our minds, the affection of our hearts, or bring fogginess to our souls does not deserve place in our schedules or in our lives. Whether it be “clean” movies, engaging novels, facebook feeds, inspiring pins, instagram snapshots, or else – we must be very careful about what we take into our minds – and how we handle that which we allow in. What we allow into our minds ought to feed our souls and fan to flame the calling that God has placed upon our lives. What we welcome in and entertain in our minds will become the meditation of our hearts, the words upon our lips, and will ultimately shape the fruit of our lives.
As set-apart young women, we are to live Spirit-governed lives of moderation. We must tend to the garden of our minds, seeing to it that meditation upon God’s Word and character is chiefly cultivated, and that the weeds of distraction are quickly uprooted, whatever form these “weeds” come in.
Here are some basic guidelines that God has lead me with over the past several years, and continues to refine me with today, in different areas of life such as hobbies, entertainment, social media, etc.
1.) What am I allowing into my heart in mind? And what is the purpose of what I am taking in?
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4.23
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever this are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. Philippians 4.8
2.) What am I filling my mind with in “free time”?
For activities that I enjoy, like dreaming up a new DIY project, I seek to keep this as a “side dish” or “dessert” item in my life – small in portion or a treat now and then.
For time spent on the internet, I evaluate the purpose of what I am doing and will often set a time limit to my online searching, browsing, etc so I don’t end up getting distracted filling my mind with non-purposeful things. (Creating a list over a period of time of my internet to-do’s has also been a way of consolidating tasks, saving time, and staying focused.)
Movies and other forms of entertainment are a rare occurrence for me as there are few worth watching and most times I can’t justify sitting in “entertainment” for two hours when there are many other things that need to be done or when time in God’s Presence is of greater need and benefit.
So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90.12
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5.15-17
3.) Cultivate and protect a heavenly mindset.
Instead of stringing along creative whims about this, that, or the other thing, I must choose practice taking every thought captive (see 2 Corinthians 10:5) and seek to continue on in life with a focused mind and a heavenward heart. It takes real attentiveness to build and maintain this type of mindset, choosing to cultivate meditations of the heart that are pleasing in His sight.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3.2
In keeping an eternal perspective on these things, whether creative avenues of inspiration, time spent engaged in social media, or else – I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Keith Green, that continues to challenge and refine my heart: If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His Presence. . . ? You’d be bored to tears in heaven if you’re note ecstatic about God now!
When we remember that Jesus Himself defines all that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4.8) and that our lives are no longer our own, as they have been bought with the priceless blood of Jesus (1 Cor. 6.20, Gal. 2.20), we can no longer excuse investing precious hours of our lives on Pinterest for our personal indulgence, nor can we justify movies that glorify sin and dull our consciences.
Remember, there is nothing in this world that will seek to fuel the growth of your relationship with Jesus Christ. The world will wave all of its glitz and glam in your face to steal your gaze and draw you away from Jesus Christ. Instead, may we choose the better part at the feet of our Lord, settling our minds in perfect peace with thoughts of Him, satisfying our hearts with the overwhelming reality of who He is!