Be careful what you wish for! Do you remember this classic warning: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it? As children, we thought this made absolutely no sense and we wished even harder for the things we wanted most. Eventually, we discovered that no matter how much we wished for a pony, each Christmas and birthday would come and go but a pet colt would not appear under the tree or grazing on the lawn.
Variations of this adage continue to challenge us today and three have become especially popular: thinking, speaking and eating. Animated educators, wise elders and renown health care professionals claim that these mantras are not only advantageous, but they will also determine what we become in life, at least from their respective vantage points.
1. You Will Become What You Think About
Teachers say we will become what we think about. I heard a professor bellowing this phrase to his class just a few days ago. He was encouraging his students to tackle their philosophy homework. If you have ever taken an epistemology course, you can appreciate why thinking is not an easy task in that discipline. Still, the concept has merit. Consider career development, for example. College students who are serious about the years after graduation constantly think about their professional ambitions. They plan their course work, their internships and even their friendships around their future employment goals. And, eventually, most of them do become what they think about.
2. You Will Become What You Speak About
We don't always tell people what we're thinking and that is probably prudent. It's one thing to be honest when people ask our opinion, but it's a different story if we walk around giving others unsolicited advice. When was the last time we took a personal inventory of the topics that spring from our lips on a regular basis? Our wise relatives adamantly cautioned us against talking about other people in a derogatory way. Like the behavioral dictum we find in the Bible, do unto others as you would have others do unto you (Mt. 7:12), their verbal rendition was: If you can't say something nice about others, don't say anything at all. In other words, hold your tongue because negative gossip will fall back on you or one of your loved ones. My uncle once made the mistake of saying our neighbor's kid would amount to nothing in life. His older sister quickly reminded him that he had children of his own and whatever ill he spoke of others could eventually land on his doorstep instead. He quickly changed the topic.
3. You Will Become What You Eat
Americans are obsessed with beauty. The billion-dollar cosmetic and fitness industries attract people who are self-conscious about their looks. The most recent trumpets on this bandwagon are nutritionists who warn us that we will become what we eat. This may be part of the reason so many grocery stores today have an organic fare section. Weight loss programs assure us that our food choices account for at least half of the battle to a slimmer, heathier lifestyle because we will become what we eat, if we haven't already!
God Is at Our Core
So where is God in all these you-will-become venues? Most times, God is absent. But we can change that. How so? If we will become what we think about, the more we think about God the more we will become like Him. If we will become what we talk about, the more charitably we speak of others the more like God we will become; or as St. Paul said, just say the things that will really help them (Eph 4:29). If we will become what we eat, the more devoutly we approach the Lord's table, the more we will focus on what we are consuming, or more correctly Who we are consuming, and the more we will become what we already are: members of the body of Christ.
For Holy Homework:
Let's write these phrases on five Post-it notes: Think God, Speak God, Consume God. We can place one note on the bathroom mirror, one on the fridge, one on the car dash, one at our desk and the last one wherever we will see it regularly. During the next 30 days, let each note remind us to think, speak and nourish ourselves with God thoughts, God speak, and the body and blood of Christ. These 3 easy steps will strengthen us within ourselves, with others and with God.
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