With All Vigilance

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23

When I read too many romance novels or watch too many romantic comedies, when I fill my head with mawkish, overdone romantic love and nothing else, I start to feel a certain ache in my chest. I’m sure you know it—maybe you became obsessed with a certain book series or TV show, and now you’re so caught up that closing the book or pausing the show hurts a little.

Or maybe it’s violence. It’s the same story—too many thrillers, too many action movies, and every time you close your eyes, you see pain and destruction. The world takes on a darker hue.

Or maybe it’s sarcasm and cutting remarks. Your words change, becoming hard and cruel. You feel a little uncomfortable when they spill out and hurt the people around you.

The things we read and watch and hear—the things we imbibe into our souls—they matter. Negative media may feel insignificant, trifling, but it cuts to the bone, slicing past sinew and seeping into our bloodstreams until our hearts beat with nothing but darkness.

We must guard our hearts, be wary of what we let into our brains and bodies.

This week I had to ditch the book series when the aching in my chest was becoming a little too strong. And I’ve had to abandon TV shows for similar reasons, if different vices. When all we consume is darkness, pain, misery, even in fictional form, we’re putting our very hearts at risk.

Keep your heart. The word keep has many meanings here; it’s not as shallow as have or hold. Keep carries the connotation of watch, guard, protect. Like a shepherd with his sheep, we must keep our hearts, guiding them to shade and cool water.

Fortunately, if darkness can seep into our soul, so can the light. Perhaps it’s true, we are what we read. In that case, I can read books that champion kindness, friendship, compassion. The books that make me see the world in a better light.

And I can stop reading Twilight.

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