I had the worst headache today. I woke from a dream about a headache to find that there was an ache behind my forehead which insisted on being the most important thing in my life.
I argued with it, to no avail.
I began grumbling like a grizzly awakened too soon and my sweet wife brought me three Advils. (Men can be such big babies!)
I fought with that headache all day.
6:00 a.m., in my classroom, still there.
7:00 a.m. in a meeting about a grant we have won, still there (I then took two more Advils).
It was there during my preparation period, while I was waiting for a web consultant at 1:00.
At 2:30 a colleague gave me some Midol. Which took it down a notch or two.
Now it is 6:00 p.m. and I am tapping away at this keyboard and that pain is rising up again.
It simply will not leave me alone.
As usual, my quirky mind drew some analogies from this little wrestling match. An internal struggle, a hopeless eternal struggle to shove something that will not move. Like my new year's resolution to be obedient to my Lord.
While I was waiting for that 1:00 meeting my mind did another little nasty trick.
A tv commercial about a new horror movie came to mind and the images of that tv spot came up. Mentally I shied away from it, but then another horror movie came to mind and those images reigned for a few minutes.
Now it may be that this was partly due to the headache... but I was taken by how persistent my mind can be. I do not like to watch such films. Yet here I was allowing such ideas to flow through my mind.
I used to have better control over my thoughts.
For a year or so in the 70s I was living in an ashram and I was able to focus my mind on a single thought for hours. I could sit unmoving for three hours at a stretch.
I don’t know if this is because I am getting older, but I tend to let my mind wander around a bit. I suppose I would say that I tend to contemplate nowadays when I used to meditate.
Which is all fine if I keep the reins firmly in hand, but today I didn't. Usually I am able to guide that contemplation much better.
So I was thinking of these disgusting images of human suffering, and I found myself disgusted not at the makers of such films but at myself.
A few posts back I wrote about my new year’s resolution... to be obedient.
I know it’s an impossible resolution... but I am resolving to do my best impression of Sisyphus nonetheless.
Owning up to my sins is a tricky thing. I want to avoid it. But confessing to myself, confessing to God, even confessing to my brothers in Christ, is just a part of it.
The trickier part is recognizing sins that I did not think as sin before.
Such as these thoughts.
The scenes I caught on the tv commercial of the movie “The Hitcher” or fragments of films I have somehow caught on tv of Hannibal Lector float about in my mind and seek to pull me to a place that I know is not of God.
I have them in my mind, but that does not mean I need play with them consciously. I can maintain better control of this tool, my mind, than that.
There are two parts to dealing with this.
First, I should be able to pull my mind to where I want it to be and hold it firmly in place:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. --James 4:7-8
Secondly, I should be careful what I put in there to begin with...
I am a middle school teacher. I am charged with placing particular ideas, thoughts, even patterns of thinking into the minds of my students. In dealing with my young clients I am keenly aware of how knowledge affects them.
With each addition of knowledge some innocence is lost.
That is worth repeating.
Every time a child, or anyone for that matter, learns something new, they are forever changed. They cannot go back. They are no longer innocent of those facts.
I am diligent about the quality of the information I give my charges.
My Lord said something like this once.
"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” --Matthew 18:5-6
(I keep wondering if He was referring to pedophiles.)
Though I am no longer considered a child by anyone except my Lord, it is still true for me. Once something is learned, we are no longer the same.
So while I waited for that appointment I let my mind wander, and the unruly beast within my skull dwelt a little too long in an unhealthy place. I am looking at it straight on, confessing it to myself, my Lord, and even to this online journal.
I can blame it on my headache. I can blame it on film makers.
But the blame is mine.
I wish to maintain a better control over my mind. If there is knowledge in there that is not healthy, then I can at least refrain from turning it over in my mind. It's what my Lord wishes me to do.
It occurs to me that there are undoubtedly readers out there who enjoy horror movies. Some of them are thinking I am being a big weenie, or too strict, or just plain weird.
My friends... this little wandering of mine today is just that... a wandering of mine. What you watch, what you enjoy is entirely up to you and truly, I am not addressing you at all. This is simply a conviction of my own heart.
And since this online journal is a place for me to place my own little ideas, please do not take offense. This is a self-directed post.
Indeed, this post is a little strange because I really am writing just for myself today.
Maybe I’m in a weird mood... or maybe this headache is just throwing me off my usual approach.
I think I’ll go lay down and put a damp rag on my forehead...