The end of summer means its time for kids everywhere to head back to school. Back in the day, the first day of school was nearly always after Labor Day. That’s not quite true anymore, but there are still those schools that wait to begin their school year in old-school style. Our 12-year old goes to one of those schools.
Unfortunately for him, most of his friends went back to school a couple of weeks ago.
I’ve toted him with me on errand runs, I’ve given chores, and I’ve made certain that he practices his guitar for a few minutes each day. But the complete lack of available friends for play dates means he’s gotten way more screen time than I typically allow.
And as I’m sure you can imagine, he’s pretty happy about it.
So happy, in fact, that every minute we spend running errands and doing chores together, he chit-chats nonstop about the level he’s on; he provides me with a detailed recap of every move he made and the games he’s won/lost, and who he’s played. Honestly, the speed at which he speaks is a bazillion times the speed it’s taking to count down to the first day of school.
You probably know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m sure you do the same thing when you see a great movie, read a gripping book, or try a fabulous product. I do, too. We all do.
When we are full of excitement, it sort of just bubbles out.
Jesus said something really similar in Matthew 12:34 — “Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
It’s a time-worn spiritual principle: We tend to converse about the things which consume us.
Clearly, we are most easily consumed by things that entertain, amuse and delight us. We readily consume those things we like. But we can also be consumed by things we dislike that come naturally to us, such as negative past events, worry over future events, or anger and unforgiveness toward the difficult people in our lives. With these kinds of things, we find ourselves becoming bitter, angry, suspicious, and hopeless.
However, we don’t have to play the victim to our emotions, or our thought life. We can choose to be consumed by good things like hope, optimism, and Truth. We can devote our minds and hearts to a thought life which lends itself to demonstrating integrity in our work or school. We can determine to pursue mutually healthy and beneficial relationships, or establish a healthy work ethic balanced between excellence in productivity and rest.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian cognitive neuroscientist, is always teaching about our ability to control our thought life, to take our thoughts captive, and to replace toxic thoughts with healthy ones. (One of her videos has become a favorite of mine. Find it HERE.)
The Apostle Paul says the same thing in Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” He’s even listed for us some great places to start the process, when we can’t find our mental traction…”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.”
If we want to change the quality of our conversation, we need to check the quality of our contemplation.
So, if you’re struggling in your marriage, consider the possibility that you’re spending too little time thinking about your spouse’s good qualities. If you’re stressed about life, try meditating on God’s promises of love and faithfulness to you. If you find it difficult to share your faith, try training yourself to focus on the Truth of God’s Word and the evidence for the the Truth of the Christian Worldview.
Just like my little man can’t stop talking about his video game prowess, as we take authority over our thought life, and fill it with good things, our mouths will overflow with the content we’ve created inside it.