Detoxing the Soul
Table of Contents
You are what you eat
So there's an old saying which goes "you are what you eat." You've heard it, I've heard it, but do any of us know what it means?
For years, I've worked on the assumption that phrase was an irrelevance, one of those stupid platitude pieces of advice people chuck about like "just be yourself," that mean nothing really, people just say them to try and sound clever.
Then about 3 years ago, I joined slimming world at 19 stone. My knees were knackered, my back was always in pain and I'd nearly died in my sleep.
3 years later, I'm 13 stone 11lbs, I can move better, think clearer and although it's still virtually impossible for me to see myself as anything other than a hideous monster, other people say they have seen a change in me.
I do wonder if "you are what you eat," rather than being an irrelevance, is maybe just badly worded? Perhaps what would be better is "consume crap, get crap results."
Eat loads of rubbish. Welcome to diabetes, knee issues and heart disease
Eat food that's actually healthy, you'll live a long time and feel better.
Consume crap, get crap results.
When grief and panic come calling
The reason this is important is because about a month ago, I hit the wall in an emotional sense. I came to the end of my ability to cope with the world around me due to personal circumstances that are unimportant. What is important is that I'm accessing loads of help, lots of incredible people are standing with me in prayer and I'm actually coming out far better than I thought I would given how, when I've been through similar things before, I've utterly lost my mind with grief and panic.
So, in short, I'm fine. My support network, even though they are as far away from me as New Zealand, The Congo and Clifton, have been amazing.
But what did get brought up to me, for the second time, was the conviction of "consume crap, get crap results."
“Soul detox” by Craig Grochele
In my attempt to get back to fighting form, I've been reading a book by American pastor Craig Grochele. This guy is my absolute hero, his church sent me my very first Bible, I watch his sermons daily because they are so impactful. I pray daily that I might have a fraction of the impact that this incredible man of God has had. That's how much Grochele and lifechurch mean to me.
So the book I'm reading is called "soul detox," and whilst it's a running joke that every Christian has a pile of books they'll never read, you owe it to yourself to read this one. It's beyond excellent.
One of the most important lessons I took away from that book is this:
Consume crap, get crap results.
See, what this book convicted me of is, is the stuff I'm consuming actually beneficial for my walk with God? Like all the kebabs I was eating when I was stupidly fat which were rotting my body and causing issues for the future, are the things I'm consuming in terms of media rotting my mind and soul?
This hit me like a sledgehammer to the gut.
To be clear, I'm not the guy listening to satanic death metal on a night whilst sacrificing a goat on the roof. I'm not watching all kinds of weird stuff on the telly. I absolutely don't consume the one thing that's a problem for most guys and I'm proud of myself for that. But is what I am consuming helpful?
I suspect not.
I'll give you an example, we all know people who significantly reduced their news consumption during the covid lockdowns due to the negative impact it was having on their mental health. I was one of them. We all took steps in covid to protect our mental health. I view this as similar, but for my spiritual health.
I came up as a rapper. So I quite like rap music, and don't get me wrong, I'm not saying rap is bad or going to be legalistic about it, but for where I'm at right now, I'm having to ask the question, is it helpful for my walk with God?
I love my first-person shooters for console. far Cry, Call of Duty, Doom, Crysis, FEAR. You name it, I've shot guns in it. Yet is plugging my mind into simulated violence the most beneficial thing for my walk with God at the moment? Probably not.
I absolutely love stuff that's about serial killers, I find it fascinating. Criminal minds, Dexter, Millennium, Hannibal. I love it. And yet, is this almost uplifting of darkness contributing to my walk with God? It's hard to imagine it is.
Truthfully, I want a bit of my innocence back. I want to approach God with the innocence and faith of a child, not with the jaded bitterness that comes from a soul overladen with stuff it isn't equipped to carry.
The crap has to go.
This book got me to look at the stuff I was consuming, the stuff I was giving space in my heart and my brain, and to be honest with you, a lot of it wasn't helping. It wasn't necessarily corrosive because I've got enough common sense to distinguish between entertainment and formational teaching, but when my life hit the skids, it wasn't a foundation I could stand on. It didn't help me live life well. No amount of Call of Duty helped me secure my feet on the rock of Jesus Christ. No amount of grime music can cure grief. What I found was that, in some ways, it was scarring my soul, in that place of emotional and mental collapse, it was far more hurtful than helpful.
And I don't like that.
So I'm switching gears for the next few months. I'm going on a computer game fast, looking at my relationship with films and digital media and prayerfully discerning what I am consuming.
Basically, I want most/all stuff I'm consuming to be an uplifter and to point to Christ.
Truthfully, I'm only a couple of weeks into this journey, but I feel better already. I feel like my heart is softening and that I'm starting to feel way more connected to God than I ever did before.
This isn't about legalism, this isn't about saying "X media is bad," or "you shouldn't be listening to a/b/c," but it's rather about asking the question "is this helping me connect with God?"
So for rap, I've not cut it completely, but I've changed what I'm listening to. Out has gone the G Funk and Houston Slab and in has come stuff like Hog Mob and GoM. Stuff that's overtly evangelical. For media, out has gone the stuff that pushes identity politics over entertainment, out has gone the stuff that uplifts the dark and in has come the stuff that points to light. There's a bit more Kevin Sorbo than I'm necessarily comfortable with, but I love it. For video games, all that's gone. I love that I have my stuff, but I'm just laying it down for a season so I can focus on other things.
Take captive every thought
2 Corinthians 10 tells us that "… we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." And I don't know about you, but I don't know how to do that if my thoughts are being shaped by things that are pulling me in half a dozen directions.
"… we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10)
This isn't me saying that you should beat yourself up for what you're consuming. Truthfully there's probably stuff that's good for your walk I'd find harmful and vice versa. But when the storm hits, are the things we're building our life on actually going to help us come out the other side, or are they going to erode beneath out feet.
Much like Jesus telling the parable of the 2 builders who built their houses on sand and rock in Matthew 7, the stuff we consume, whether we realise it or not, is forming part of our foundation for life. And whilst life is good, it doesn't matter. But when you realise you've taken in so much of this stuff that it isn't helpful for when the storm hits, then maybe a switch of gears isn't the worst thing.
Look, I'm not saying "I'm leaving all this crap behind, you have to do the same," nor am I saying "go and become a nun," but I am saying, maybe it's time to take a step back, for all of us, and ask if the stuff we are consuming in our lives is necessarily the most helpful for our walk with God.