My teenager's act of rebellion is listening to rap music. Personally, I can not stand the music. The beat is okay on some songs, but the major of the lyrics are horrible. Now, of course, this is my personal opinion, but I do not think there is much positive to be gained from lyrics that are centered on cussing, sex, drugs and gangs. Rather than take the irrational approach of throwing away all the CDs and his stereo, I choose to talk rationally with him about his choices.
I use the example of junk food because teenagers understand and love junk food. It's no secret that too much junk food is bad for your body and your health. Just like cookies, cakes, chips and candy do nothing to fuel your body; there are many things that do nothing to feed our soul. I call these things junk food for your soul. Junk food for your soul is anything that robs you of the ability to experience unconventional love and joy. Let's compare the junk food versus the healthy food for your soul.
Junk Music, Movies and Books vs. Inspirational Music, Movies and Books: Now remember, we are talking about healthy food for our soul. Have you ever walked into a movie in a good mood and walked out feeling down and out? That's happened to me several times. One time in particular was when I saw "Magnolia" with Tom Cruise. I was on a date with my now husband and I remember leaving that movie feeling very depressed and angry. To top it off, it caused a fight between us because my husband thought the movie was great. Movies, music and books tap into our emotions and have the ability to fuel the love in our soul or drain it. By choosing inspirational forms of art, you will lift your spirit and experience the love that is naturally in you. I'll never forget listening to this beautiful love song with my best friend in her media room. The power of the music, the words and the singer's voice was enough to drive both of us to tears. At the end of the song, we both just looked at each other with tears in our eyes. We could do nothing but hug each other because of the love we felt in that moment.
Complaining vs. Gratitude: It's much easier to focus on all the things we do not have or the things we do not like. Complaining that you do not have enough money or your husband does not help enough around the house keeps your energy at a very low level. If you can rise above and practice gratitude, you will raise your energy level and begin to experience love. Play a game with yourself. Keep an ongoing listing of the top 3 things that happened to you today. I had a nice hot shower this morning. My husband kissed me goodbye before he left for work. I got to listen to some great music on the way to work. Through your day, try to replace one of the three things on your list with something even better. This will keep you focused on having an attitude of gratitude.
Negative Thinking vs. Positive Thinking: Your thoughts determine your feelings and your feelings determine your behavior. So what's going to happen if you think negatively? You will experience negative emotions and your emotions will fuel negative behavior. If you want to feed your soul and experience unconventional love and joy, it all starts with your thoughts. How do you see yourself and the world around you? Do you see yourself as a beautiful child of God or do you beat yourself up with negative comments like "You're never fat" or "You'll never be successful"? Is the world around you filled with loving and trusting people or cynical and shady people? Your thoughts are very powerful and have the ability to shape your entire life. If you do not believe me, watch the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know"?
Guilt vs. Grace: If you struggle with guilt, you know it is hard to feel good about yourself when you feel guilty. Guilt implies that you have done something wrong. Sometimes we take on guilt that does not belong to us. Other times we experience guilt because we make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of being human. It is the way we learn more about what love is and what love is not. Go easy on yourself and others. God gives us grace, and by extending that grace, we feed our soul and the soul of others with love.
Anger vs. Forgiveness: Unresolved anger is like poison in your soul. The other day, on Christian radio, it was explained that anger clogs your spiritual arms. If you want to do a triple bypass on your spiritual heart, you must learn to forgive. It does you or the person you are angry at no good to harbor resentment. Forgiveness is like lifting a huge weight off your shoulders. It frees our heart and soul to experience the joy we deserve to feel.
Victim / Martyr Attitude vs. Empowerment Attitude: A victim or martyr carries around an attitude that she is wounded and uncontrollable circumstances happened to her. A victim feels she has no power to change her life. This kind of attitude is so damaging to your spirit. It will shut you down and absolutely rob your joy. When you have an empowerment attitude, you are taking control of your personal happiness. You give yourself the power to choose how you are going to feel. You believe you can create whatever kind of life you want. To experience love and joy in life is a choice we all have. It is given to each of us at birth.
Isolation vs. Connection: As human beings, we need other people. It is through relationship with others that we learn about love. Community provides a place for each of us to give and receive love. If you spend a lot of time in isolation, your soul can not be fed by the love of others. I remember when I was youngger and most of my life was spent alone. I was an only child for a very long time and I learned to be independent and self-responsible. This carried into my adult years in a way that was unhealthy for me. I did everything alone – I count on no one for help. When I went on a women's retreat, my tension to isolate was pointed out to me. I remember a therapist asking me where I was going. I told her I was going to work out. She looked at me and said, "Alone?" I was a bit taken aback. Was there any other way? I have since learned that fellowship with loving people does wonders for filling my soul up. Isolation is lonely and loneliness is draining.
Fear vs. Faith: Your soul can not breathe when you live in fear. Fear is crippling and will stop you from fully experiencing the joys of life. To be bogged down with worry and anxiety is like that sick feeling you get when you eat a ton of junk food. You can not move. Faith is like that fresh fruit salad that nurtures your body. It's light and refreshing. It enables you to move around freely with energy and love. One of my friend's children is battling a very rare disease called Langerhans Cell Hystocytosis. Through this struggle, they have been challenged with fear. They shared something that I think is very substantial and speaks to the importance of faith. They once read that God's plan for us is like a piece of embroidery artwork. We only see the back side with all of the ugly knots, frayed strings, and twisted stitches that seem to make no sense. But God sees the front side – the side that is perfectly planned and executed – the finished product, so beautiful and clear.
So what do you want to feed your soul? Junk food or healthy food?