During my PhD years in the lab, one of the most common practices I performed was to filter liquids. I needed to filter solutions for sterilization, so I had to ensure that no small bacteria were left behind in my filtrate. I used to filter solutions to remove large particles that would interfere with a procedure. Filters were used all over the lab, in the vacuum waste system, in the air system of the building, etc…You probably used a filter today when you were making your coffee or maybe you have a filter on your water tape to get cleaner water. There are filters in your cars and on your phone cameras. Filters are everywhere!
But why are filters so important?
Let’s start with what a filter does: it removes impurities or unwanted material from whatever passes through it. For example, the gas that you put in your car has undergone many steps of filtration to remove impurities that could damage your car. This means that the final product that makes your car run properly needs free from impurities.
So, filters are important because they purify things from, possibly, damaging impurities.
What about what you let into your brain? Wouldn’t you want the final product of what stays in your mind to be free from impurities?
I guess many of us heard sermons and words of advice about what we let into our bodies through our five senses – sensual things. If you have grown up in a church community, you probably heard that you shouldn’t be listening to songs with profanity or watching inappropriate things online. Maybe your parents taught you to wash your fruits and vegetables before you ate them. We may have heard that you should not allow anyone to touch you in certain ways. Most of us would naturally not want to smell repulsive oders so we will tend to avoid those.
Here, I want to focus on filtering what we hear. Our sense of hearing is very powerful because words can have long-lasting effects on us, especially words of criticism and negativity.
In today’s world, we are flooded with many words of advice on the internet and from people. We are also not sheltered from words of criticism and verbal and emotional abuse. Even middle and high school children created games where they stand around and shame and criticize each other, instead of lifting each other up. I have to wonder how they got to this point? What role did the adults in their lives play to drive them to make a game out of shaming each other? As adults, many times, we give ourselves permission to tear down another person if we don’t agree with them or the way that they do things. I have met many people who, instead of helping me gently overcome my weaknesses, they used their words to magnify my weaknesses and make them the center of almost all of our conversations. This has been a challenge!
What do we do about these messages?
What would you do if you have made a decision in your life to pursue a certain career that you love, a career that will make you happy, then someone very close to you who loves you and has your best interest at heart, begins to criticize your choice and shame you for even wanting to pursue this career? Keep in mind that it is a noble career. It is not something that goes against God or the Bible. With his/her words, they begin to tear down your plans and belittle your efforts, because they think that this will motivate you to change your mind. For many of us, with the underlying assumption that this person cares about us, will begin to doubt ourselves and our decisions. We may even spiral into a state of paralysis, because we have lost all confidence that our own desires, wants, and needs are even valid.
This is why need EAR FILTERS!!!
Not everything we hear by others, who claim to have our best interests at heart, is useful to us.
Sometimes, we need to hear something and immediately filter it out, but honestly this is very difficult, at least it has been for me. I think that the reason we tend to get stuck with the negativity of what people say is that Satan’s goal from the very beginning of man’s existence has been to instill doubt in the heart of man. Our own thoughts are already being targeted for failure by the devil. He doesn’t want us to do anything that will help us be happier or closer to God. He doesn’t want us to take any risks where we will need to have more faith in God. In the example above, if you are leaving behind a life that made you miserable in the past to pursue a new career that you know will make you happier and closer to God and others, Satan will not be happy about this and will try to destroy you. So, besides your battle with own thoughts and the thoughts that Satan instills within you, you will find resistance from others, because this solidifies your doubts about yourself and your decisions.
Your battle then becomes both internal and external!
St. Peter walked on water, but he also almost drowned when he began to doubt God’s help. At first, St. Peter, with the faith of a child, was able to defy all the odds and gravity and walk on water! He had pure faith. Then, because doubt is a very strong thing, his faith became impure. In other words, St. Peter allowed more than pure faith to exist in his heart. He needed to filter his thoughts so that doubt doesn’t overcome him and he wouldn’t drown.
Just like we need to filter our thoughts, we need to filter what we hear and what we allow to stay in our minds and hearts.
We are free to choose what to hear + keep and what to hear + discard. Although this is not easy, I think that reading the Word of God can become very helpful to take place of all the negativity. If you have been chewing on a word that someone said to you and you cannot seem to let it go, please run to God in prayer and read His Word. He is more than capable to help you recover.
Possible things to filter out:
- Criticisms for the sake of criticizing you.
- Excessively detailed stories about your friends success/failure.
- Inappropriate things.
- Things that just make you cringe or feel uncomfortable.
- Advice that has nothing to do with your situation.
- Gossip (its all useless!).
- Useless public news.
- Some new scientific “facts”!
- ANYTHING that delivers to you the message that “God doesn’t love me” or “God won’t forgive me” or “God is upset with me”. FILTER OUT!
- More…(you can create your own list and practice letting these things come in and go out…byebye!)
People will not quit talking…
If you have ever attempted asking someone, “please, stop saying these things to me,” then they continued to say them anyways, you probably figured out that you cannot control what comes out of the mouths of others. What you can control is your ear filter: take in what you think is useful to you and leave out all the junk. Out with the junk!
I hope that at least one person finds benefit from this post! If you have any questions or thoughts about anything that I wrote here, feel free to share in the comments or contact me directly.
3 May 2018