That Which Sticks to Us
May 27, 2018 05:41AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
On any given day if I look down at my shirt, there are a million different particles clinging for dear life. Shih tzu hair. Bunny fluff. That disgusting yellow pollen coating anything and everything on our cars and outdoor furniture. The cereal that might not have fully made it into my mouth. That drop of coffee. Kibble dust from the end of the dog food bag. A stray streak of essential oils I was trying to transmit from one container to the next. A forensic lab could have a field day with my clothes!
And not just mine. One of my children is so OCD that they refuse to put on socks or track pants that may have random hair or lint attached from a run through the washer.
It’s true that we announce certain things about ourselves by what sticks to us. For example, I could go buy stamps one late morning with the dirt under my fingernails from gardening. Dust might be all over me if I was cleaning when I went to answer the door. If I made a Middle Eastern dish, the spices accompany me into the car on my clothing and hair when I go to pick my daughter up from her dance class.
One of my non-OCD children used to wear drips of toothpaste spit down the shirt to school. Nice.
Our attitudes are like that. One person comes home from a rough day at school or work and snaps at a family member, who then enters the next room full of angst and a sharp tongue to the one playing the piano too loudly. I think of it like the honeybees that drop down into the flowers and grab pollen to take to the next bloom they land on. Pollinating can be negative or positive, can’t it?
Proverbs 16:24, ESV
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
But what if we weren’t raised with sweet, gracious words or we currently work or live in an environment where “sweetness to the soul” and “health to the body” aren’t happening? What if toxic interactions are a regular gig in our lives?
We have some ways to protect ourselves from negativity or toxicity penetrating. I think of it as a Holy Spirit forcefield. If we keep on alert and aware of what God says versus what is being said to us, what enters our hearts and minds is only what we allow.
First, we should have God’s Word at the ready on our tongues, between our eyes, in our hearts and souls.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19, ESV
You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Moses spoke God’s Word to His people in Deuteronomy 11, and in it he encouraged a lifestyle of taking in, memorizing, and living and breathing God’s Word—whenever we sit, walk, lie down, rise, etc. Teaching our children not only keeps God’s Word at the ready for the generations below us, but it trains us to maintain that discipline of consulting His Word about everything in our lives.
Second, through Moses God also encouraged His people to listen to God (prayer), keep His law, and turn to Him with a full, sincere heart and soul. He reassures us that God’s Word does not tease us. It is “very near” and accessible. If we have followed the instructions of Deuteronomy 11, it should be in our mouths and hearts.
Deuteronomy 30:10-14, ESV
…When you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
One of my favorite verses about how to find the peace of God (from the God of peace) is found in Philippians. The Apostle Paul tells us to focus on the good: whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worth of praise. That is one of my favorite ways to remove the unproductive words and situations that try to stick to me and weigh me down.
Certainly, not all hurtful words are to be rejected. Only God can help us sort those out. We have to be teachable and walk in humility. We can test what should “stick” and what shouldn’t by putting it through the Philippians 4 “whatever is” filter.
Philippians 4:4-9, ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Maybe someone once told you that you could never be a singer, engineer, policeman, college student, businessman, pastor, _____________ (you fill in the blank). Maybe at the time they were right and you needed to grow in wisdom or experience. Or perhaps they were speaking discouragement to you with no real purpose.
Paul says “The Lord is at hand.” We are not alone. If you believe in Christ, you have access to His wisdom not only from the Bible and in prayer but through the Holy Spirit.
If God says it, Moses told us it should be bound to our foreheads with the adhesive of the truth of God’s Word.
If man speaks it, we need to put it through the “whatever is” God filter.
I don’t know about you, but when I rip the Velcro back, I want to find productive, healthy, godly instruction sticking to me. Any pronouncements on my life need to be checked with His Word and His Spirit before I can let them adhere to me. If they bear good fruit in my life, no matter how difficult the correction, then they are can stick around. If not, they can join the dust bunnies, dog hair, and crumbs from breakfast and fall away.
Is anything sticking to you right now that you need to ask God about?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.