by Debra Ayis
Every day, we are bombarded with information that’s readily available at our fingertips. From TV, social media, and other fora, it is next to impossible to shield one’s self from the swirling voices surrounding us 24/7. Compounding the situation is the difficulty of adequately filtering what information we allow ourselves to consume even when making a mindful decision to do so.
Still, I’ve learned that the information I consume shapes my thought processes and perceptions in life, so it’s vital to curate what I allow my mind to be exposed to. For instance, when I worked on human trafficking issues at my job, I developed a network of friends both professional and personal who were experts or passionate about the issue area. I read articles, essays, attended conferences and wrote research papers on the subject. On a personal level, I aligned myself with organizations such as A21 and participated in “walks for freedom”. I even wrote poetry on human trafficking. In summary, I was fully invested. This passion, which eventually led to me becoming an expert in the field at work, would not have developed if it hadn’t been for the way I intentionally constructed all areas of my life to foster its growth.
In a similar way, shouldn’t we be ready to be fully invested in building a life that is conducive for our passion for God to grow uninhibited? As Christians, many of us long to be passionate about the things of God. We desire to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). We want to think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
We want these things, and yet in the world of today, they seem next to impossible. Personally, no matter how I try to customize the news topics I receive on google news or apple news, the curated result always leaves me a bit disappointed and it’s easy to stumble unto articles that leave me depressed or upset after reading. And please don’t get me started on social media—a seemingly endless supply of information that sucks me into things that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to engage with.
So how do I keep my mind pure and free? How do I stay focused on God? How do I make Philippians 4:8 a reality in my life? I would like to say I have it all sorted out, but alas! I am still a work in progress. Though I have found 3 effective ways to be more mindful of what I am feeding my mind in this day and age:
1. Put on the right armor
I am a Christian, which means my body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). Just as we might eat healthy food for the sake of our physical bodies; to keep our minds healthy, we must feed it the right food. The Bible reminds us what that food is—every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).
So, I try to start and spend my whole day with God—staying in constant communication and communion with Him. I do this by reading and studying the Word, through worship, and praise and by immersing myself in His presence throughout the whole day. Sometimes I listen to Christian music while working, on social media I follow a ton of inspirational speakers and bible apps and devotions, so that’s what pops up on my feed. I pray while walking around from place to place, and I ask for God’s advice on issues I face as my day unfolds around me.
This alone fortifies me against invasive information more than any other measure I can think of. I find that when I seek to stay in communion with God, I spend my day thinking about scripture – the things of God and how to apply them, leaving less room for other thoughts and information to take root in my mind.
2. Avoid the battles you can
I am often reminded of the adage that goes “garbage in, garbage out”, and choose to steer far away from gossip and slander on the news and from people. I unfollow pages and people on social media that post things that aren’t morally sound, and stay away from music, movies and shows that are full of profanity, sexual immorality and other undesirable traits (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). I find more innocent alternatives that serve as a respite from the mainstream. For instance, there’s a huge library of Christian artists in every genre that produce high-quality godly music that gives secular music a run for its money in terms of quality, creativity and even “dance-ability” (Philippians 4:8)!
3. Find trusty comrades
Even though almost everything is online these days, I think that, whenever possible, it’s important to develop strong friendships in person. After all, iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). So, I am careful with the type of friends I keep and in my inner circle, I tend to have Christian friends, and non-Christian friends that have a value system aligned with scripture. I have found that it’s sometimes not about the label but the character. It’s also not about quantity but quality.
Beyond my close friends, I try to limit my interaction with rumor mongers and gossips, negative people and those who actively and obstinately live a lifestyle that opposes the scripture (Proverbs 16, 1 Corinthians 15:33). I try to make sure that in all my interactions my words are filled with grace and they build and encourage others (Colossians 4:5-6, Ephesians 4:29). For me, it’s all about meeting people where they are at and letting one’s light shine to draw them closer to Christ while being mindful of not being drawn the other direction (Matthew 5:16, Proverbs 1:10-19).
These three methods have helped me be tremendously mindful in streamlining and curating the sort of information I consume from day to day. I hope they were of help to you even though each of us are different. Above all, I think the most important measure or guide on what sort of information and people we should allow to influence our minds and lives can be found in the bible, so I hope you continue to dig deeper, even as I endeavor to do same.
Written by Debra Ayis
Abridged version published on 12 August 2019 on YMI Blogging, Our Daily Bread Ministries