One morning the kids were eating breakfast and I was in the kitchen. One of them came in and told me they saw something scary on someone’s device. This one’s had some hard nights going to bed because of accidentally seeing scary stuff. I understand this because I watched the Christmas Carol as a kid and any time I was alone (mostly using the restroom) I was SURE Marley would show up, chains a-clanking.
I took this one’s face in my hands and said, “I want you to guard your heart. You have to guard your eyes and your ears because that’s how things get into your head and I don’t want you to have frightening stuff in there.” Okay.
The day went on with no mention of it, but as I was praying with the kids at bedtime, this one prayed, “Thank you that I have a filtered heart.”
I was dumbfounded. What a beautiful way to put it. We don’t let just anything in there. Our hearts are precious, so we filter.
Another time we talked about pornography. We’d already talked about sex, so I told them people video themselves having sex and let other people watch it. I asked if they thought that was appropriate. No, no. That should be private.
“Yes,” I said, “It’s special and should be shared between two people, so if you ever see that, or even pictures of naked people, you need to look away as fast as you can because seeing that can be addicting like drugs. You also need to tell a grown up what’s happening.” It’s easy to fear that telling kids about something like porn will make them more likely to seek it out, but knowledge is power. I believe kids are more vulnerable when they are kept ignorant. I want my kids armed.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed when our world is quickly changing with challenges like smart phones and social media. How DOES one engage with the world and guard their heart? We’ve marveled at kids’ lack of self-control, but we don’t seem to have much more. We need to ask ourselves some questions if we want to know how our hearts are doing and where some of our defenses may be breached.
Do we take in so much information we get numb or apathetic?
At what point do we imbibe so much, we can’t remember how to contribute to the conversation?
Is everything we say online something we’d say be proud to say if we were face to face with a person?
Is what I watch inspiring me or making me believe I’m never safe?
Do I reach for my phone when I feel stressed and does it help?
These are hard questions and need to be asked often, like taking a pulse to see how your heart is. When we start checking in, we may be discouraged to see we have habits that put our hearts at risk, but Jesus believes in us.
He declares us all (our kids included) as having the potential ability to go into humanity and change the world for the better. Through Paul, He says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Phil. 2:14,15
He also advises us to, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Pro. 4:23
Here’s to us journeying together, knowing our hearts are precious and worthy of careful guarding. Here’s to us understanding, like my child learned that day, that doing wrong is a crock that steals our joy, even when it promises to add to it. And when we are choosing carefully what we allow into our hearts, the love that flows out of them will be purer and purer, like filtered water for a thirsty world.