When I think of a family room, I picture a warm inviting place. The couch and love seat have large cushions and beckon you to lounge awhile. There’s a fireplace flickering and sending out its heat. The whole place is filled with family, all relaxed and feeling free to be themselves. Sure there are occasional arguments and differences of opinion, but everyone is able to get back to the common unity and solve their issues because of the deep abiding love that underlies it all. The pictures on the wall are pleasant; some of family; some with uplifting quotes, and some displaying the beauty of nature. Everything about the room urges you to take your shoes off and stay for a bit. When strangers come to the door they remain there at least until they demonstrate that they are worthy of the family room which is reserved for family, good friends and people that we like. Wild animals aren’t allowed nor any influences that take away from the peace; the sanctity of the family room. Although it is a place of beauty, it’s not always tidy because all who dwell there are allowed to let loose and worry about clean-up after the good times are done. It’s a sanctuary that you can come home to after a challenging day and just rest. It’s where the best conversations take place about things that matter and plans for the future are dreamed up. It is a haven where prayers are offered with thankfulness for the beauty which is this life. It is the family room.
Our minds, in many respects, are the family room of our existence. But how many of us have allowed our minds to become a place of unrest; of anxiety; of worry oer’ the future? How many of us are comfortable within ourselves and really feel free to be ourselves in every aspect of life? And how many of us would rather put on the facade of the formal living room where the furniture is untouched and though filled with beautiful things is not designed for every day use, but instead used to impress those who enter our homes? How many of our minds lack a warming fireplace and settle for the cold air of unresolved feelings and unhealed hurts? How much of our lives do we spend occupying ourselves with activities ever anxious to avoid being alone with ourselves and our thoughts? And what adorns the walls of our minds? Do we have images of past mistakes and collages of the things we don’t like about ourselves? Is the furniture hard and stiff from callousness and bitterness gone unchecked? Can we even stand to stay long in the room without medicating ourselves as a form of escape? Certainly given the reality that we only have one mind from which to function with in this life, it would behoove us to pay attention to the condition of that great citadel from which all of life springs forth!
God, while ever honoring the sanctity of free-will, desires that our minds be a peaceful haven from which we negotiate the many challenges of living. He never promised that our living rooms would never get messy, but rather gave us cleansing, light infused words to help us tidy up the place and invite the warmth back in again. However, He gave each of us our “own mind” with the solemn responsibility to safeguard it and keep it free from intruders.
Keep thy heart more than anything that is guarded; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (Darby Translation)
You see it is our, not God’s, responsibility to protect our hearts and we protect them by deciding who or what has access and who or what does not! I imagine that if you came home from work and found a wild snarling beast in the family room, mission number one would be to get rid of the beast. Yet, how many of us allow wild intruders to remain in our minds and instead of getting rid them, choose rather to work around them and get by using the other available rooms? We may not always choose who shows up in our living room, but we sure as hell can decide who gets to stay! A common misconception of the day is to think that an open mind is one that entertains all visitors. Yet we wouldn’t do that in our homes, would we? We may answer the door, but not everyone gets to come in. Much of the mental unrest that plagues people today comes from allowing things into their minds, that while appearing harmless, carry with them the seeds of unrest. The world tends to be a very negative place and with the advent of modern electronic media, we all get deluged day by day with negativity. But negative thoughts, like a negative house guest, soon affect everyone involved. It’s not naive to avoid all the terrible news, it’s health promoting. Sometimes in our homes things get broken or worn out. Well, the sooner we take the thing to task, the sooner we can get back to enjoying ourselves. Walking by the hole in the wall because you don’t want to deal with it is counterproductive because every time you walk by it you are mentally dealing with anyway. And how often have you dreaded taking on a certain task only to find it was much easier than you thought and that you should have done it six months ago? (smile) To make your mind warm you have to consistently feed it warm thoughts. To brighten up the place you have to open the blinds. And the only way to soften the furniture is to soften your thoughts. Let the thing go. Forgive someone. Replace bitterness with compassion. After all, you know how your mind gets at times, so isn’t it possible that it happens to other people as well?
At the end of the day (ha, there it is), you and I owe it to ourselves to make the most of our short lives and we do so by taking good care of our minds. We should be able to relax and recharge day by day. We should be unafraid of our thoughts and have the courage to take on the intruders that threaten our well-being. We should seek the peace that is our birthright as children of the Most High God. I don’t know about you, but I want my family room to be such a wonderful place that many, many people want to come inside and while they are there I’m going to love them like they have never been loved before! Light up that fireplace, plump the cushions, we are going to have one helluva party!
Just some good thoughts…