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.



. . .the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.  And immediately he called them; and they left their father. . .and followed him.

And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. . .And immediately there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?. . .But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him.”

Mark 1:14-28

IMMEDIATELY.  The word “immediately” appears four times in my gospel reading for today.  That seems pretty significant.  So often I think that I must take time to deliberate.  I spend days, weeks, even months researching, plotting, planning, and mulling over a decision in my head before I consider taking action.  Often the process spirals into worry.  We are taught to approach serious decisions with careful consideration, and the assumption is that this will take some time.  That truly good discernment can only occur when great time is spent on it.

Jesus shows us otherwise.  Sometimes we need to act right away.  And usually those times involve Him and where He is leading us.  I suppose the key is determining if the call is actually coming from Him or instead from forces of this world.  If He is truly the one reaching out to us and compelling us to act, then we don’t need to stop and think or engage in a lengthy pro/con debate about the scenario.  We just need to do it.

This can feel very risky.  When I try to imagine the risk those fishermen took that day, I grow uncomfortable.  What would their families think of them?  How would they make ends meet?  What if they were too hasty and later experienced regret?  These are all feelings of this world, brought on from the judgement of others.  In the end, we have to trust that Jesus has a plan for us and that saying YES to Him immediately is the only way to go.  As we are reminded, the kingdom of God is at hand.  Let our thoughts align with our actions and follow Him.

Jesus in the Wilderness


This year I hope to read through the entire Bible using a daily Catholic Bible that provides 20 minutes of readings from both the Old and New testaments. Monday, January 1st appropriately begins with Genesis and Mark, the earliest gospel.

Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
who shall prepare thy way;
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. . .
[After Jesus was baptized by John]
. . .The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days. . .

Mark 1:1-13

These days I often feel like a voice crying out from the wilderness. Trying to balance working from home, raising a 3 year old and 7 month old, keeping up my home, managing the bills and doctors appointments and the other necessities of life, all the while my husband works 60 hour weeks, can leave me feeling stranded in a no man’s land and alone even as I am constantly surrounded by two precious little beings. Group texts with friends help ease the need for connection, but the isolation is still real.

This passage reminds me that even John and Jesus were in the wilderness at one point in their lives. In fact, God actually SENT Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted.

A wilderness is defined as a wild and uncultivated region, as of forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals; a tract of wasteland. We all have those wilderness times in our lives. Often we feel alone or abandoned when we are in them. Perhaps instead we need to cling to the image of Jesus in the wilderness and ask Him to be with us in ours, pray that He will give us strength to face the wasteland of our sorrow, the wolves that try to devour our souls, the darkness of the seemingly uninhabitable places in our hearts. If we open ourselves up to Him, He will be there. He knows; he has been there before.

Ironically, it is often in the actual physical wilderness that we have the easiest time finding Him. When I take to the woods, explore a trail in a state park, or just sit out on the porch watching a thunderstorm, I experience my deepest connection with Him and suddenly in this “uncultivated region” I am able to truly cultivate Him in my heart.