There are a couple of themes that just keep coming back around in my thoughts, this Lent and in our Lent Devotional for Women especially. Prayer, social media, and friendship seem to be a focal point in articles I’ve read, stories I’ve listened to, and ponderings in my heart and mind.
We’ve talked about prayer, social media, and friendship this Lent and we will continue to talk about them even long after Lent is over. But in my small, old Lenten devotional book, Reflection on the Passion, there is a sentence that stood out; maybe because it’s something I preach louder and longer to my children from my soapbox than anything else.
It is so important who we surround ourselves with, who we seek out, and who we accept as our close companions. This applies in real life and on social media. Whatever and whoever we take into our lives–physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, we soon become like.
Using that idea above in this Lent Devotional for Women, that whatever we take in, we become like, let’s think about our friends or the people we surround ourselves with, the books we read, the television and movies we watch, and the music we listen to.
This might be hard to consider. We don’t want to be “that person” do we? The person who doesn’t laugh at the raunchy jokes in a group of friends, family, or co-workers. The person who asks that the channel is changed when what could be considered a soft porn commercial, comes on advertising a prime-time television show. The person who doesn’t watch the Superbowl halftime show because, ahem…The person who turns off the radio when a song comes on glorifying sex, drugs, violence, greed, lust, and anything else you can think of. The person who struggles to buy fashionable clothing without showing all of our God-given glory.
But sometimes we are called to be that one because we follow and imitate The One. And following The One will require some sacrifice, some hardships, some broken friendships, and stand-out and stand-alone moments.
Let’s take some time in this Lent Devotional for Women to reflect on our friendships. This reflection really needs to be done in a quiet time, prayer even. Ask God, “Is this a good friendship? Is this a good relationship? Will this relationship bring me in closer friendship with you? Are we encouraging each other to be more like You? Does this person care about their own eternal salvation, much less mine?”
Friends, I know these are hard questions to ask because in most cases, we know the answer even before and without putting in the prayer time to seek God’s answer.
Listen, if we hang around drunks, we risk taking on the characteristics of a drunk. Notice I didn’t say we would become a drunk; that’s too easy of an excuse to justify our behavior right? “Just because they get drunk doesn’t mean I will!” some protest. I also didn’t say someone would start drinking. There are far more characteristics of a drunk than just drinking in excess. C’mon now!
If we associate with complainers, we will begin to take on some characteristics of a complainer. Same goes for hanging out with negative people, pessimistic people, fault finders, and joy suckers!
On the other hand, if we associate with a grateful person, we will begin to take on the characteristics of a grateful person. If we spend time with joy seekers, we will start looking for joy! Time around optimists will help us become more optimistic!
If we hang around liars, we risk taking on some characteristics of a liar. If we hang around someone who doesn’t believe in God, marriage, family, the sanctity of life, etc. we risk serious harm to souls, hearts, and minds. And now I’m not just talking about taking on those characteristics, I’m talking about the sin of scandal.
Let me quickly add to this thought on scandal. There is a fine line here that we don’t want to cross or use as an excuse. For example, we can still love and befriend a divorced friend without believing all society wants us to believe about the option of divorce. Do you understand? It’s the situation or circumstance…it’s the heart.
If we’re befriending the “outcasts” to prove how much like Jesus we are, to prove how much unlike the Church or our family we are–that’s a prideful heart attitude. If we’re befriending the “outcasts” out of pure love and intention of showing and sharing Jesus, that’s the right attitude. (And I use the word “outcast” loosely and strictly for lack of a better or clearer word.)
We are known by who we associate with. I’m not arguing whether this is wrong or right and I’m certainly not taking up the ridiculous argument that Jesus hung around the outcasts.
We are known by our friends and acquaintances whether we condone their behavior, participate in their behavior, or have no idea about their behavior; our friendship with them is a reflection of us. If this wasn’t the case, why would major corporations cut ties with a controversial representative? The list is long and staggering and will be out of date by the time this is published, but you know what I’m talking about.
Now, let’s take time to think about the music we listen to. Does this music bring us in closer friendship with God? Look, I’m not advocating all Gregorian Chant or Classical all the time; there is a balance to be found. A good question to ask is, “Would I allow someone to come into my home singing or saying these words?” (And I’ll be completely honest here, this is a hard one for me. I love a good gym workout playlist and they are not necessarily known to be the cleanest songs.)
Take time to reflect on want we watch and read. Here’s a good question, “Would I allow someone in real life to come into my living room acting this way?” If the answer is no, turn the television off. Too often we just allow whatever into our minds, and friends, it sticks.
Whatever we allow into our minds can eventually become a topic for meditation–something we spend time considering, imagining, and reliving, whether we like it or not. The enemy of our soul can certainly use the things we’ve seen, read, or listened to as a temptation.