Authored by Mara Hodler
If you’ve ever lived in a city with a considerable lower-class population, you probably have experienced something like this when stopping at a traffic light. A swarm of earnest window washers emerge and try to “clean” your car. They usually have a dirty, damp rag and will use it to smear all the dead bugs and grime around on your windshield. Then they’ll ask for a tip.
Sometimes you say “no” because you don’t need your windshield smeared, but they will just keep on wiping it. You might even be slowly moving your car forward and they will still keep on wiping. Now, the fact that these guys are on the side of the road cleaning your car for a pittance is pretty sad, and I’ve always tried to tip them as I beg them NOT to clean the windshield. Because, well, cleaning with something dirty is not cleaning, no matter how earnest the effort. Are you wondering where I’m going with this?
I want to get you thinking about personal entertainment choices, and I’ll get to how that ties in with window cleaning in a sec. It’s a fact that kids and young people today have more entertainment options than ever before. You have the Internet, gaming devices up the wazoo, and billions of dollars’ worth of media geared directly for young people. Honestly, grown-ups have a harder time monitoring these things than ever.
When I was a kid, if we wanted to watch a movie, this is how it went: we walked to the movie store, flipped through a huge selection of movie posters, selected the one we wanted to watch, took it up to the front and checked it out. If it was a new release, then we had to take the cover to the front to see if they had any copies in the store, and you were very lucky to get a new release within the first week or so, because everyone wanted to see it. This system was in place for years.
You then brought the movie home and stuck it in your old VHS player. I think ours was particularly old because it only worked half the time. Sometimes my dad would get it to work by banging on it, ejecting the tape, and trying it again. If we wanted to read a book, it was the same general idea: go to the library and borrow the book. Suffice it to say, it was pretty easy for our parents to monitor the stuff we watched and censor stuff they didn’t feel was good for us. Even if you were in a household that had TV, there was a whole lot less on television than there is today.
If you watch movies from the ’80s or even the early ’90s, you’ll see the really cool rich guy with a cell phone the size of a power tool. No data plan, no texting. A few weeks ago my five-year-old daughter came home from school and told me she needed a cell phone because one of her classmates had one. “Nice try, Hon! Not happening for at least five more years!” To her, a phone is a device to play games on and send pictures to friends.
With the Internet you have access to apps, books and games you can download in an instant, streaming movies, gaming sites to play on, and all the Internet gossip and social media you can possibly handle. And you know what? It’s pretty cool! I’m gonna be honest and tell you that I love streaming TV shows. I love being able to go on FB and keep in touch with my friends. I love having information at my fingertips!
But it’s also no secret that this ever-present media has caused some problems in the lives of old and young alike. And this is where my little windshield story comes in. You clean a windshield with a dirty rag and you get a dirty windshield. No one expects anything less. So what happens when you fill your mind and heart with dirty stuff? Does it affect your perspective? Does it taint your values? Most definitely. How can it not?
The Bible tells us to “keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”1 To me, that verse suggests that our hearts are the starting point for our thoughts and actions … and that it takes effort to “keep” our hearts.
I have come to the conclusion that I cannot shelter my kids from all the stuff that’s out there. The days of being able to censor are over. I only have one course of action, and that is to teach my kids to “keep their hearts.” Just like you have to know what will happen if you use a filthy rag to clean your windshield, you need to know what happens to your mind and heart when you don’t take proper care of it.
The Bible puts forth a pretty easy way to discern if something is good for you or not when it says, “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.”2 These are the kinds of thoughts and ideas that need to be running through your mind and heart.
You have to learn to be the judge of whether or not something is good for you because only you really know what you are reading, listening to, and watching. If the media you’re taking in promotes things that are true, pure, noble, and lovely, then you are on the right track. If it is promoting the opposite, you need to stop and think about it.
I’ve had to stop watching a few TV shows because the values they promoted were just not in accordance with what I believe. Speaking truthfully, it did take a bit of effort to stop watching those shows. I’m like, “What’s going to happen next? How does so-and-so get out of that pickle?” But I have to think about whether or not I want “so-and-so’s” values to become my values. If the answer is no, I probably should not spend so much time with “so-and-so.”
It’s actually really simple: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”3 What you put into your mind and heart is what will come out of it eventually. So choose wisely.
1 Proverbs 4:23 NKJV
2 Philippians 4:8 NIV
3 Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2013 by The Family International