The Thoughts of Your Heart

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The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 5-6

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. . .And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. . .

Mark 1:29-39

I’ve never been one to focus on wickedness or demons.  I joke that we are more of a “all you need is love” kind of Catholic family.  But lately I see such a darkness in this world.  That darkness has to come from somewhere.  Sadly, it comes from within us.  We have demons within us—addiction, violence, hatred, jealousy, envy—that must be cast out of us if we are to live a full life with Jesus.

Recently I’ve been devouring thrillers.  I love the page-turning, climactic, pulse-racing nature of these books.  I felt an insatiable desire to finish them immediately, to read non-stop at the expense of my husband, my children, my work, and my own personal well being (hello shower! hello prayer!).

Suddenly I discovered I was having difficulty falling asleep at night.  I couldn’t turn off my brain, struggled to wind down.  What could be the problem here?  The books I was reading had opened my imagination to some very dark plots, which in turn filled my mind with some very dark thoughts.  It didn’t help that I was consuming these books the way a glutton would go through a whole bag of potato chips in one sitting.  I felt like I was crouched over a bowl of chips and salsa, saying just one more bite, I promise! I had to admit to myself that this was a problem.

It went against the way I was raised and how I have always operated.  Reading is good.  No one can question the value of reading.

Yet the books I was reading were the equivalent of consuming two pizzas, a couple of ice creams sundaes, a few liters of soda, all in a day.  Just as that would be filling my body with junk, I was filling my mind with dark, twisted stories that brought me no consolation.

In the end, it comes down to this: does this bring me closer to God or separate me from Him?  Sometimes we need to guard our thoughts. Making sure that the words and images we put into our minds and allow to animate our imaginations are from God and not a product of the demons and darkness within others needs to be a priority.

So instead of spending the evening swiping through a story of a terrible marriage and the horrible events that occur because of it—watching the suspense light up the pages in the darkness of my toddlers’ room as I lie on her floor and wait for her to fall asleep—I’ll read something that showcases the beauty of this world, that nurtures my soul and encourages gratitude.

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