Written By Debra Ayis, Nigeria
Every day, we are bombarded with information that’s readily available at our fingertips. From the TV, social media, and other fora, it is next to impossible to shield one’s self from the swirling voices surrounding us. To make matters worse, it can be difficult to adequately filter what information we allow ourselves to consume even when we make a mindful decision to do so.
However, I’ve learned that it’s vital to curate what I allow my mind to be exposed to, as the information I consume shapes my thought processes and perceptions in life.
For instance, when I worked on human trafficking issues at my job, I developed a network of friends, both professional and personal, who were experts in or passionate about these issues. I read articles, essays, attended conferences, and wrote research papers on the subject.
I also aligned myself with organizations such as A21 and participated in “walks for freedom”. I even wrote poetry on human trafficking. In summary, I was fully invested. This passion, which eventually led to me being an expert in my organization, would not have developed if I had not intentionally fostered its growth in all areas of my life.
As Christians, many of us long to be passionate about the things of God. Our desire is to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). We want to think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). If that’s what we desire, shouldn’t we be ready to make sacrifices to build a life that is conducive for our passion for God to grow uninhibited?
What does this look like? Personally, no matter how hard I try to customize the news topics I receive on Google or Apple news, the curated result always leaves me a bit disappointed—and I find myself being drawn to articles that leave me depressed or upset after reading them. This doesn’t even include the way social media has the propensity to suck us into a seemingly endless supply of information that we wouldn’t necessarily choose to engage with through its algorithms and auto-play functions.
So how do I keep my mind pure and free so I can stay focused on God? How do I make Philippians 4:8 a reality in my life?
I wish I could say that I have it all sorted out, but alas, I am still a work in progress. However, I have found three effective ways to be more mindful of what I am feeding my mind everyday:
1. Put on the right armor
I am a Christian, which means my body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). Just as we eat healthy food for the sake of our physical bodies, we must also feed our minds the right food to keep it pure. The Bible reminds us what that food is—every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).
So, I try to start and spend my whole day with God—staying in constant communication and communion with Him. I read and study the Word daily. Sometimes I listen to Christian music while working. On social media, I follow a ton of inspirational speakers, Bible apps and devotions, so that’s what pops up on my feed. I pray while walking around from place to place, and I ask for God’s advice on issues I face as my day unfolds.
This fortifies me against invasive information more than any other measure I can think of. I find that when I seek to stay in communion with God, I spend my day thinking about Scripture—the things of God and how to apply them—leaving less room for other thoughts and information to take root in my mind.
2. Avoid the battles you can
I often consider the adage “garbage in, garbage out”, and choose to steer far away from gossip and slander on the news. I unfollow social media accounts and stay away from music, movies or TV shows that aren’t morally sound.
Instead, I find alternatives that serve as a respite from the mainstream. There is a huge library of Christian artists in every genre that produce high-quality, godly music that gives secular music a run for its money in terms of quality, creativity, and even “dance-ability”!
3. Find trusty comrades
Even though a lot of our interactions with others take place online these days, it’s important to develop strong friendships in person. After all, iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). So, I am careful with the type of friends I keep and limit my inner circle to those whose value system aligns with Scripture.
Recently, the Spirit was leading me to pray about a certain issue in my life, but I wasn’t really sold out on it. Then the next morning, my friend sent me a verse on the same issue I had a prompting to pray about! It helped reinforce the need for me to stay mindful of the issue and pray about it. I was grateful to have a friend who was willing to obey God’s leading to share that verse with me, thus keeping me focused on what God required of me in that moment in time (Proverbs 18:24).
In the same way, I try to make sure that in all my interactions with others, my words are filled with grace, and build and encourage others (Colossians 4:5-6, Ephesians 4:29). For me, it’s all about meeting people where they are at and letting God’s light shine through me so that they are drawn to Christ (Matthew 5:16)!
These three methods have helped me become tremendously mindful in streamlining and curating the sort of information I consume from day to day. I hope you’ll find them helpful as well. Above all, the most important measure or guide on who or what we should allow to influence our lives can be found in the Bible, so I hope you continue to dig deeper into God’s Word, even as I endeavor to do same.