Thursday, July 21, 2011

Familiar = True?

The other day I was walking down the hall way with a snippet of poetry going through my head - "Urge me away to bitter shadow. Always sweet love is one ache we need." I thought, I've heard that somewhere before, what poem is that from?

Turns out when I had been putting the shopping away in the fridge a few seconds before I must have glanced at the fridge door - which is covered in random groupings of words from our magnetic poetry kit. It sounds poetic, but it's not poetry. That group of words is sitting there in between "Read my cry you purple rain butt" and "Go cook rob in his moon bed". Funny. But not poetry.

But because it's been there so long, it's become familiar. Never mind that I was the one who put that essentially random group of words together once; Now I've seen it for so long that for a second I thought it was something real.

They say the more familiar you are with someone or something, the more positively you feel towards it and the more you feel it is trustworthy. This is why brands work so hard to promote and advertise themselves. And why we feel friendly towards celebrities, even if we've only seen them as characters in movies.

The longer things are around, in front of us, the less consciously we notice them and the more they become embedded in our minds as something real - even if it was completely fabricated in the first place.

That's why it does matter what we surround ourselves with - the ideas and values we let be absorbed into our minds. Even if we start out being conscious of the fact that it isn't real, it isn't the truth or that it goes against our regular values, that gets worn down as familiarity sets in.

We start to forget where we've heard and seen things, and just have a vague idea - "Yeah, I've heard that somewhere before, so it must be true." If we let things sink in and become familiar enough we no longer separate them out from our own thoughts.

If we let this happen through the TV we watch, the music we listen to, the people we let be an influence in our lives then eventually  we stop discerning the untruths we first noticed, and start accepting their thoughts as our own. Silly magnetic poetry may not be so harmful - unless I tried to write an essay and quote it - but other things are.

That is why we need to have God and His word as the biggest influence in our hearts and minds. He is Truth, so we want His thoughts to become ours! Build a solid foundation of the word of God, and it will guard you against anything else taking hold in your mind.

...but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
   and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
   which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
   whatever they do prospers. 

Psalm 1:2-3

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32

If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23

It can take some examining to work out the things we are wrongly believing to be true. But God's word can help us there too! 

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12

Have you ever realised you were believing something made up or untrue just because it was familiar? Who or what do you think have the main influences in your life when it comes to what you think about and what you hold as true?

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