“We bought into the lie!” Michelle McKinney Hammond’s words echoed in my mind as I take in the scene around me. It’s a Saturday afternoon in my hair salon, the place where my journey to making Soulmate officially began. I’ll never forget when my friend Felecia turned to me from under her hair dryer and said. “I’m embarrassed to tell people I’m single at 42”, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I note the marked difference in the atmosphere today. Nobody’s talking. Instead, everyone has their noses buried in magazines bearing the faces of one celebrity or another. You know the magazines. They beckon us from airport newsstands, wink at us from the supermarket checkout lines and seduce us from beauty shop counters around the world. ‘You know you want to read me,’ they seem to taunt. And we, almost hypnotically, take the bait.
As I look around the salon, I ask myself, “What’s wrong with this picture?” I mean, here sat some of L.A.’s most accomplished, professional, African American women fixated on Beyonce. I took a mental note and went back to working on my laptop. After all, who am I to begrudge anyone their guilty pleasure? Several years ago, I was not just a “beauty shop” reader of “those” magazines I was a (gulp) subscriber.
My husband, Roland, so detested those publications, that he’d rip the covers off hoping to give me a not so subtle hint. “Why are you filing your mind with that stuff?” he’d ask. “I’m in entertainment and I need to keep up with the industry and the culture,” I’d justify. “Mmph,” he’d shake his head and walk away.
One day, after I’d been “hood-winked” at the supermarket checkout counter, I brought home three such magazines headlining one celebrity calamity after another. That was the last straw. Roland put his foot down. “I don’t want you to bring those magazines in this house anymore. Those images are bad for our children.” Well, how could I argue with that? He was absolutely right. How could I not have seen it? Those magazines are not just bad for our children, they’re bad for everyone. But as Michelle Hammond said, I too had bought into the lie. I cancelled my subscriptions and have not purchased one since that day.
We live in a world where narcissism, materialism and wanton sex abound. Greed, reckless living and sexual immorality have become the norm. The result? Utter devastation. Just check the stats on teen pregnancy, the explosion of HIV/AIDS, incarceration rates, mass murder, depression, suicide and the like. We are in a state of mental and moral crisis. Yet we wonder why our lives just aren’t working. It is a sad commentary that the average person knows more about Kim Kardashian than they know about Jesus Christ.
In Soulmate, Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale explained how she was able to remain celibate for 18 years; “It all starts with a thought and then we want to act on that thought and live it out. So what I had to do was turn that thought life over to God.” If consuming certain media causes your mind to wander dangerously, you must avoid it at all cost. “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:5.)
Singles in particular, have to be particularly vigilant about guarding what they watch, read and listen to as certain social media, songs and shows actually heighten feelings of desperation, anxiety, loneliness and feelings of inadequacy.
It all starts with a thought. “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7).
So how do we effectively counteract the quicksand effect of this ever present cultural sludge? Just as we consume vitamins and herbs to shore up our diet and stave off illness, we also have to add healthy supplements to our minds to help build our spirits. Sitting in a church for two hours a week simply isn’t enough to eradicate the other 100 hours of negative media propaganda. Just because we live in a culture intent on replacing God with self and celebrity, doesn’t mean we have to fall for the okey-doke.
It’s all about choice. Turn off the TV. Offensive programming will go away if there are no viewers. Here’s a radical thought: Turn off your electronic device. Read the bible, an inspirational book or better yet, (Gulp) just sit still for a moment and listen for the small, yet unmistakable voice of God. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).
Let’s face it. Being physically and spiritually healthy takes a great deal of discipline and sacrifice. Discipline and sacrifice don’t feel good until you realize their enduring benefits. The benefits of a life of wholeness, freedom from the power of sin, peace and fellowship with God far outweigh the fleeting pleasures and ultimate regret of a life of self-gratification.
Our Creator left an amazing and detailed instruction manual called the Bible that gives us step by step instructions on how to live life to the fullest. Tragically, many of us only open the manual once a week in church or when we’re going through a crisis. Like most instruction manuals, we only open them when something is broken. Think about it. We’re literally trying to operate the most complex organism on earth without reading the manual! And again, we wonder why our lives just aren’t working. “If you meditate in My Word you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32).
The more you saturate your mind with the truth of who you are, Whose you are and how you’re supposed to live, the less appealing the lies of the world become. The world is completely antithetical to the Word of God. In the world, it’s not cool to be celibate. It’s not hip to be humble.
The world says: “If it feels good, do it.” The Word says: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God… (Romans 12:1.)
The world says: “It’s your thing. Do what you want to do.” The Word says: “You are not your own. You were bought at a price therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
The world says: “What’s love got to do with it?” The Word says: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8.
It’s time we stop consuming the lies of this culture and begin consuming the truths of God so that we may begin the journey to wholeness. The Word of God is very clear. “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2.)
Sick and tired of your life? You can transform it. One thought at a time.