Chilling Slender Man interrogation tapes were released recently revealing the thoughts that filled the minds of two 12-year old girls from Wisconsin as they stabbed one of their peers 19 times (she survived miraculously) last May. These girls saturated their thought lives with this demonic, creepy fictitious internet character who urged the killings of others and threatened his followers who didn’t commit heinous acts.
How do adolescent children become so mentally screwed up that they would think it is okay to stab someone repeatedly to honor an internet cartoon character? I believe it is because they became what they beheld. These girls contemplated this demonic persona continually until he became real to them. To appease Slender Man and keep him from harming them and their families (which they believed would happen), they tried to commit murder. In other words, their thought life manifested into actions.
I am keenly aware of the power of the mind. Developments in neuroscience have confirmed what the Bible said thousands of years ago. In Ecclesiastes, (10:2), it says that, “Sensible thoughts lead you to do right; foolish thoughts lead you to do wrong.” We create neuropaths in our minds when repeatedly we ponder things.
What happens, then, if you ponder sinful things for too long? Sin begins in a thought. It will go from your thought life to action and you’ll sin. This puts a wedge between yourself and God. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18.)
Jesus often taught about the thought life. “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” (Mark 7:21-22.) “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:26.)
Jesus’s brother, James, also wrote about our thoughts. “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15.)
So, how do we control our thoughts? In Philippians (4:8), Paul urges Christians to “keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper.” He tells them to never stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.
One of the ways to do this is by spending time with Jesus daily. Go somewhere alone, in your room, the basement, or even your car! But get alone with God, worship Him, pray to Him, and practice silence. My identity begins to transform when I spend time with God. His Word changes my thought life, and I become more of who He created me to be!
One of my favorite sayings is this: “Find time for quiet because the world is loud, and God speaks in the silence.” (I don’t know who said this, but it’s very wise!)
I struggle just like you do with time management, and feel pulled in many different directions. There are days when I feel I just can’t take time for devotions. I usually end up feeling more stressed on those days! If I would have simply given Him just a few minutes, my day typically goes better. I have a sense of peace, and I am training my mind, ‘etching it’ through new neuropaths that teach me to trust God in all things.
We need to not only practice this discipline, but teach our children to do the same. Know what they are watching, and be diligent in protecting them from evil influences that will corrupt their minds.
“Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life!” (Proverbs 4:23.)