I’ve always told myself that if I ever get the chance to teach a youth lesson at church, I would start off with an object lesson I heard as an analogy years ago. Here’s how it goes:
We’re in the gym and there’s a long table set up. On the table are some of the biggest, moistest, most delicious brownies you’ve ever seen. They’re still hot and they are smothered in chocolate frosting (okay, I’m drooling now). I invite a kid to come up and eat a brownie.
When she gets up there, I say, “just so you know, there’s a tiny piece of dog poop in there. Here you go!” Inevitably, the kid (and everybody else) will refuse to eat the brownie. “But,” I say, “it’s just one small part. You’re not going to throw this brownie away for one small part, are you?”
Of course they will. As would anybody. Right?
Apparently not. Let me tell you a similar story. When I was a teenager, I used to watch a LOT of TV. Way too much. I really regret spending so much time in front of my TV and away from my parents. Very stupid of me.
Anyway, most of the shows I watched were terribly offensive. I won’t name names but they routinely showed horrible behavior as acceptable, rewarded very mean and cruel sarcasm, lauded main characters for misogyny, portrayed violence as acceptable and basically, entertained me with ideas and actions I would have been horrified at in real life.
And those were the sitcoms.
Why would I watch shows that presented me with people who did and said things I found despicable? Because they entertained me. I found them funny or they were interesting.
In other words, they had a little brownie to go with the dog poop.
I used to believe what you watched, read or listened to didn’t affect you much. I thought it was the kind of thing that went in one ear and out the other (like high school!). Let me tell you a secret I’ve discovered.
It’s not. It stays with you and shapes how you perceive the world around you.
You know that phrase “you are what you eat”? It’s true. Eat a diet of mostly fatty foods, you become fat. Eat a diet of mostly lean foods, you become lean. There’s no real magic there. Your body has to use what you give it to regenerate itself.
Our brains are no different. They become what you put into them. If you constantly bombard your brain with sarcasm, crude humor or violent behavior, your brain is going to become accustomed to using those neural pathways and operating in that section of your mind. It becomes habitual.
Am I saying that if you watch a violent TV show, you’re going to become violent? No, I wouldn’t go that far. But will you become a little more violent? Probably. Will violence become a little more acceptable to you? Probably. Will you be less shocked the next you see violence somewhere? Definitely.
What I’ve realized lately is the strong connection between what you allow into your body and mind and how you feel. You become, in a very real way, what you take into yourself, whether through your mouth, eyes or ears.
Knowing this, I’ve committed myself to being much more selective about what I allow into my mind. Before, I was a slave to what was on. Now, I’m in control. I’m using my agency instead of allowing it to be used.
In other words, I’m not eating any more brownies with dog poop.
And that’s a good thing.