Do you remember as a kid, sitting with your family in front of the TV? You were about to watch a show as a family and then a warning flashes across the screen. “Warning: Some content may not be suitable for younger audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.” I remember, on occasion, that my parents would make eye contact and a silent conversation would quickly take place. After a few seconds, my parents would either let me stay or send me to my room until the TV show was over. I remember my mother telling me that I was not ready to see the things that were going to happen in the TV show. Sometimes I would sneak back out to try and catch a glimpse of what was forbidden for my eyes and ears.
Fast forward to my parental life. I am sitting with my son watching a children’s educational TV show. It seems to be a harmless show based on nursery rhymes and includes number, colors, and letters. It wasn’t until later that I saw just how much my son’s life would change from a few episodes.
At the end of the week, my wife and I get home from work and try to speed clean the house. We do all the basic chores that need to be done (dishes, laundry, pick up toys, vacuum). I had just asked my son to help me pick up his toys. He responds with, “I can’t! Too hard!” I was shocked. In the past, my son had always helped to pick up toys or go and retrieve items for my wife and myself. We had no idea at the time what had given him the idea that this task was too hard for him. It took us a lot of convincing (bribery) to get him to finally pick up his toys. We did not want this to become a norm so my wife and I sought to find the source of this “too hard” concept.
Lo and behold it was the TV show that I watched with my son a few days earlier. One of the main characters, whom my son idolizes, told another character that a task was “too hard” and he couldn’t do it. My son wanted to be so much like his hero that he went to such lengths as to turn simple tasks into impossible ones.
In life I believe that we as humans see people or communities that we admire and try our best to imitate their behaviors since they seem so much better than we are. Is it possible that we do this to a fault? Do we try to become each other so much that we change what we wear, say, and do in order to fit the mold? I have found at times that I focus so much on what my peers are doing that I forget myself along the way. I get caught up in a race that I am sometimes running by myself.
Paul writes in the book of Philippians:
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”
I take this to mean that from time to time we tend to lose our long term goal of heaven and replace it with the newest car or fashion. Paul calls us to grow up and keep our eyes on the prize. It takes a change of mind, which is a lot harder than a bodily change.
There are things in this world that we need to be able to let go and some that we should never pick up. Some organizations are kind enough to warn us about some product dangers while others are more cunning. In the end, we are the last line of defense against ourselves. What is suitable for you? What things are you seeing and doing that help to keep your focus heavenward?
Tommy Kennedy teaches band and choir at Keene ISD in Texas. He has two little boys and a beautiful wife, Sadie.