One of the few days that I have left the house, the entire family and I were in the car and had just left Kroger. Lately, grocery shopping is far more of a frustrating experience than it ever has been in the past. Something about a global pandemic really takes the fun out of being at the store, especially with some of the people that you can encounter.
In the car afterward, my frustration and sarcasm came spewing out in the form of me saying something along the lines of, “Wow, those people are seriously idiots.” Now, it is one thing to say something dumb, it is an entirely different thing to say it in front of your kids. My oldest, who is in middle school, is now at the age where she is reasoning and debating with us on a nearly constant basis and when she heard this, she immediately took offense and corrected me.
“Dad, not everyone is stupid. Some of them are just uninformed and uneducated.”
After some embarrassment and thinking, I told her that I was glad that she thinks and feels the way that she does and that I should be more careful crafting my words. What she heard, and what she called me out on, was just the result of being cooped up in the house for too long, watch the news too much, and being online too many hours. I hope that she understood this as I did my best to explain it to her.
Quite frankly, I had just let my guard down but did not even realize that I had done it.
Above All Else
You ever hear those stories where someone runs into a challenge in life and then grabs their Bible and randomly opens it and points to a verse? Then that very verse they point to has the answer to their issue? Well, I am not great at selecting randomly applicable verses out of thin air. But I can say that one that immediately came to mind was, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Or even, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:3).
Thinking through that, it made me feel like my mind is a castle and I have to be very careful what I let in. Taking a break during the day and watching the news might not seem so harmful, until it turns into leaving the news running in the background to where all that enters my mind is doom and gloom. Taking a break and spending time on social media is not always bad, however, going down the rabbit hole of comments and online arguments can quickly leave me in a bad mood.
It reminded me immediately of working with my athletes at the gym. One of the concepts that I want to hammer home with all of our athletes is how important the warm-up is, and how important the reps with very light weight are. Those especially are critical. The initial reps before the heavier weights set the tone. They build muscle memory. Just because they are light, does not make them any less important. They have to be taken seriously.
What I let into my heart and mind is really no different.
The Castle Walls
These are just a few of a million attempts to break down my castle walls. I just cannot afford to be that careless. What might seem like catching up on the news or seeing what is happening on Facebook, can turn into being in such a foul mood that when I go grocery shopping with my family, that I now label every person I come into contact with that has on gloves and a mask as a complete moron. What is that communicating to my family? What does that tell them about my personal faith?
Don’t answer that. I already know.
This feels even more important now, with the world on what seems to be a global lock-down due to COVID-19, and this is a challenge that I will issue to each of you because it is certainly something that I cannot take for granted any longer.
What are you allowing in? What needs to stay outside the castle walls?
I did some looking around and came across Philippians 4:8-9. I thought it was a great verse, so much so, that I feels like it should be etched into the inside of my castle walls as a reminder of what is worth protecting and fighting for.
8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.