Monday, December 16, 2013

One Day Less - Making Room for Joy

Day 16

Yesterday we were reminded by the Church of the command to always rejoice in the Lord.  As I was reflecting on the verse I wrote about in yesterday's post, I couldn't help but see the rest of it.  Immediately following the command to rejoice in all circumstances and to plead our cases to the Lord in faith and thanksgiving are these words:

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you."

I don't think it's mere coincidence that these words follow the others.  We say we want joy and peace and yet sometimes we fill our minds and hearts and ears and eyes with things that are anything but.  Rejoicing in the Lord and having the God of peace with me always sounds perfectly lovely until it means that I have to give up the things that are not pleasing to Him, right?  But how can I rejoice in the Lord and find HIS peace if I choose to fill my mind and heart with things that are not of Him?  The truth remains, despite my excuses and rationale, that I can't.  Any area of my mind and life where I cling to the vile, where I cling to cheap entertainment, or to things that are offensive to Him is an area where He will not be able to dwell.  

We  say we want our Lord to come into our hearts and homes, but are we willing to give up what is not of Him?  Do I let what I profess with my lips test my choices in entertainment?  Do I claim to love life then delight in being entertained by violence?  Do I claim to see the beauty and truth in our sexuality but then make excuse after excuse of how this or that show has five minutes at the end that make it redeemable despite the other 50 that mock everything I believe?  Or my old excuse, I just listen for the beat.  This summer there was a popular song whose lyrics were absolutely vile but oh my, the beat and tune were so catchy.  I let myself listen to the whole thing once.  And guess what was in my head for days afterward?  Or the entire television series I watched that got worse and worse as it went on.  But I just have to know how it ends!  After all, I invested all that time already, right?  Stupid.  Or the sex scene from the movie or the grotesque murder scene displayed on primetime television (even the commercials!).  Those seem to be the images that stick.  I guess that's part of our fallen nature.  It's much easier to look down than to look up.

The truth is the more I choose to fill my time, my mind, and my life with things that are not true or good or beautiful, the less I have room for Him.  

And this goes for my interior life, too.  I claim to respect life, to desire purity, to want grace, to want the beautiful filling my heart and home but do my thoughts reflect that?  Do I say I want all these noble and true ideas filling my heart and soul but then greet thoughts of jealousy, spite, resentment, anger, or perversion with welcome?  

He longs to fill me with a greater and greater helping of His joy and peace but that can only happen to the extent that I have the room for it.  Today, I want to look closely at those areas where I may be making excuses - the show, the music, the website, the thoughts.  If I want to be a person of integrity (and oh, I do), then I must make the choice.  I want to choose Him.  Lord, grant me the grace to choose You.  Always choose You.





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5 comments:

  1. I think the saints can really be of great aid to us as we strive to Philippians 4:8 test our lives. It helps me to think of all they forsook and the lives they lived, makes it easier for me to see my wimpiness and reluctance to let go of more and more - thinking of saints like St. Therese or St. Maximilian Kolbe or the martyrs is very edifying and puts my little trials in perspective.
    But you are absolutely correct, the enemy will repeatedly try to call to mind the bad bad bad, and the physiology of how we remember things doesn't help either, and combined with our concupiscence we can be left in sorry shape. We must be careful of what we let into our minds in the first place, and pray for the grace to overcome any bad that's already there.
    Lots of good stuff to think about in your One Day Less series - thanks!

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  2. Another good one, Mary. I've been thinking alot about idols in my life lately...I'd quickly say I have none, but it's not true. There are many things that take my mind and focus from God throughout the day. Just started watching a series last night that probably isn't worth my time. Thanks for shedding light on this.

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  3. This is a wonderful post. So often, you put to words what is spinning around in my head (in a much more eloquent way than I ever could!) Thank you once again!

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  4. I actually have to disagree with this one, or at least point out that the issue is not so black and white.
    Recently Dan and I watched the entire series of Breaking Bad, and it was SO so awesome. A lot of violence, and definitely some strong sexuality at times, but it actually strengthened our faith. I was totally inspired to watch it by reading this post of Jen's: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2013/08/why-a-show-about-meth-dealers-made-me-feel-closer-to-god.html
    I actually had a great conversation about this with a very holy priest, and he told me that Breaking Bad is a great show, and in his opinion was fine to watch, because it did not glorify evil, but portrayed truth. Sure it's messy and scary and disturbing, but a lot of truth is just that.
    Barbara Nicolosi wrote an excellent chapter on viewing media in the book Style, Sex and Substance - which I highly recommend. In it, she writes "Because Hollywood relishes highly stylized and graphic violence, we people of faith turn away from any kind of drama where people die or bleed or do really bad things, the kind of things that are the result of living in sin. Flannery O'Connor called this kind of clamoring for the safe among the people of God 'an overemphasis of innoncence'. Because we are the people who are suppossed to know about sin, it is possibly as serious a sickness as the wallowing in darkness that the pagans do. We need to deeply reconfirn the conviction that being naive, clueless, and aloof is bad discipleship and has little in common with the the wisdom of the serpents and the guilelessness of doves to which Jesus has called us."
    Definitely some food for thought!

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    1. Oh gosh, I hope you don't think I'm advocating being "naive, clueless, and aloof"! I was hoping that would be clear in my post but I guess it wasn't. I've never seen that show so I can't speak to that specifically. I just know that there are times that I do make excuses for filling my head with things that have no edifying value, in fact, the opposite. Things that spend the majority or the entire time mocking God and truth. I think it's entirely possible to know that that is out there and not have to consume it myself. And there are plenty of examples of great art and modern media, of course, that aren't fluffy or "safe" or religious that are edifying. Things that portray truth, yes! Thank God for that. I think that is awesome. I sort of took for granted that people would understand that, I guess!

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