Bacteria. Lately that has been a word that is popping up all over the place – news reports, scientific journals, my Facebook newsfeed.
“Your body can contain up to 20 pounds of bad bacteria.”
“The bad bacteria in your gut can affect your mood.”
“Replace your bad bacteria with good bacteria and you will notice big changes in your overall health.”
There is so much research being done about how bacteria works in our bodies, and how an abundance of bad bacteria can cancel out all the good and leave us sick, exhausted, and moody.
That really got me thinking – is spiritual “bacteria” the same way? Does what you consume matter? Can consuming the wrong things leave us spiritually ailing in the same way that too much bad bacteria leaves us in poor health?
I’ve noticed a pattern in my spiritual life. When I am receiving an abundance of Positive Truth on a regular basis, the negative “bacteria” is canceled out and diminished.
But, when I get busy with life and forget to focus on my spiritual growth, the toxic waste of thought (the lies I tell myself, the harmful self-talk) grows stronger and weighs me down.
I know this pattern started early on. As a teenager, my dad used to tell me, “garbage in, garbage out.” It drove me crazy and to be honest, I thought it was pretty stupid.
See, I loved watching MTV reality shows and teen dramas. Those girls always had great figures and I wanted to look just like them. If I could just slim down my naturally curvy shape and work out a little more, maybe I could look TV skinny AND be so much happier. I’d probably get more attention, boys would like me more, and I would feel a sense of freedom I never felt in my current size. I remember watching a documentary on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. They had to weigh in, and not a single one of them weighed over 120 pounds. As a high school cheerleader who beat that number by a good 25 pounds, that digit was a reminder that I didn’t measure up, and I wouldn’t be pretty or successful at my size.
I dwelled on that information; I absorbed it. I learned Jennifer Aniston’s weight, and I noted Jennifer Lopez’s. I let the information consume me, and it was a constant reminder that I didn’t measure up. The negative self-talk began to counteract any positive I was putting in, and it created a deep insecurity that has taken me years to overcome. Only recently have I begun to understand the power my thoughts have on my spiritual well-being.
The Bible backs it up, too. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Ephesians 4:23 talks about “being made new in the attitude of your minds.” Romans 12:2 reminds us to be transformed “by the renewing of your mind.” And of course, there’s Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – let your mind think about these things.”
There is nothing praiseworthy about beating myself up over a number on a scale. I am not renewing my mind with truth when I focus on negative self-talk and how I don’t measure up. And when I let that bad bacteria of thought invade my mind, I am definitely not taking my thoughts captive. Instead, I’m letting my thoughts take ME captive and I am trapped in a cycle of low self-worth, negativity, and shame.
When poisonous thought bacteria enters my mind and soul, there is no room for grace. There is no room for love. There is no room for TRUTH.
The Bible is a powerful weapon, my mental and spiritual probiotic. When I choose truth over lies, I am empowered to live in freedom. And that bad bacteria has no room to survive.
Erin Kerry is wife to Richard and “mama” to Isabel and Roman. She works as an English teacher and ESL Department Head for a middle school in Plano, Texas as well as ambassador for Plexus Worldwide. She loves bingeing on Netflix with her husband, playing games with her kids, getting sucked into a good book, running races (slowly), discovering unique craft beers, and trying out new Mexican restaurants. Read Erin’s posts here.