The house is taking shape again. For awhile there, it was showing its age, but the ministrations of a few talented men have brought it back from the brink. We actually enjoyed the rain last night, lying in bed with a certitude that the new shingles overhead would prevent a deluge into any internal part of the house–not that it had already happened–it was just the slight possibility that with an old roof, it could have occurred with the next rainfall. I’ll be even more happy when the kitchen wing is re-sided and the new door installed, but perhaps not for the reason you might expect.
You see, my problem with the process right now is that huge pile of trash in the middle of the backyard. Well, it used to be a huge pile. The black monsters, believing that if it is in their yard, it is there for them to play with, have begun to spread the refuse around a bit. Perhaps, more than a bit. When they were smaller, all the experts told us that it was because they were puppies. They would certainly grow out of it. Now, they tell us that it’s because the little dears are bored. “Get them some chew toys,” is the stock suggestion. Somehow, for these lovable furballs, all teeth and tails, chew toys turn into lunch. Again and again, the chew toys are torn to bits and then the bits are swallowed, one by one. And now…the once huge pile of plywood and Masonite, along with a few bits of tar paper? You guessed it…lunch for Tip and Tildy.
They know they’re not supposed to eat the stuff. Every time I head outside, they jump up from their repast and head for their house, quite sure that I will be upset with them. I gather the bits and pieces and pitch them back into the trash pile, only to find them scattered again when I check on them, sometimes just minutes after the last episode. They know that they shouldn’t chew up the trash, but they don’t seem to be able to stop themselves. My frustration seems endless. That said, I love the pups and wouldn’t trade them for any well-trained lapdog in the world.
I will admit that I felt a little more kinship to the pups this morning as I sat in my doctor’s office and listened, with my head hanging just like Tip’s does, to the doctor lecturing me on the trash which I have been putting into my own mouth. There are some serious effects which I now have to deal with, effects which could have been avoided altogether if I had complied with the instructions of many wise counselors over the years. I listened to the list of forbidden foods, now expanded to include many items which would have been okay in moderation, before I caused such damage by my own recklessness and failure to heed the warnings. No chocolate? Spicy foods? Citrus fruit and juice? The list goes on and on, seemingly populated by all the things which I love to eat. Even peppermint…well…that, I can actually live quite nicely without. One could almost hope that mushy peas and creamed corn were on the list, but one would be disappointed in that hope. No. All the tasty things I like are on the list, but changes will have to be made. All because I refused to heed the wisdom that suggested moderation and self-control.
How do I differ from the foolish animals in the backyard? They don’t have any serious intellect and they depend on the training which they are given, but even so, the beasts have no obvious capability to reason out cause and effect. I, on the other hand, pride myself in that ability. My logical facilities seem to be reasonably well advanced at times. It’s just the self-discipline which is lacking.
I was still chewing on that this afternoon (lacking anything else which I could chew on legally), when a customer shared with me her thoughts on television watching habits. Did you know that the average child in the United States views over thirty-two hours of television every week? Over one whole day! And as adults, we aren’t much better, allowing the media, whether on television or over the Internet, to control our thoughts an average of three or four hours per day…more if you count time at work for many of us. As we talked, my mind switched gears once again and I shuddered as I considered what we have done (and are doing) to our minds.
The inane, and outright sick, input from a world seemingly bent on self-destruction has found a conduit straight past all of our natural defenses and directly into our brains and hearts. We spend hours accepting the opinions, the lifestyles, the very morality, of people who would never be physically welcomed into our homes. These are the degenerates, the addicts, the amoral folks whom we need to be challenging with our faith and our standards, but instead, we allow them to influence our home life and our relationships in ways that permanently damage the very foundation of our existence. Like the dogs (and this glutton), we ignore what we know to be true and acceptable in favor of what we crave and secretly embrace. And, just like the aforementioned fools, we will reap the very real consequences of our actions.
This is not a rant about television, nor even a rant about eating healthy foods. It is simply a reminder that we have been trusted with the assignment of walking a straight path, of being examples, of taking personal responsibility. In every part of our lives, the principle holds true: Self-gratification and licentiousness invariably lead to decadence and disaster, while self-control and discipline consistently lead to stability and vitality.
I’m going to see if I can follow the instructions my doctor has given me for awhile. He wants good for me, not bad. If someone could convince the black monsters in the back yard that my intent for them is the same, I’d be eternally grateful. For the rest, the control over what goes into our eyes, and ears, and mind…the jury is still out. I hope you’ll at least stop to consider the content of that TV program, that movie, that book, before you agree to be influenced by it. I’ll be working on it right along with you. You see, we also have a Master who wants good for us and not evil. He has assured us of that in his Instruction Manual.
For now though, I’m headed home to eat a little snack before bed. I wonder if doughnuts…? No, probably not.
You know…Garbage in, garbage out.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
“If I wanted garbage in my living room, I’d bring the trash cans in and empty them out on the floor myself.”
(Harry E. Phillips [my father]~explaining why there would be no television in his house)
“Self-control is just controlling myself
It’s listening to my heart
And doing what is smart
Self-control is the very best way to go
So I think that I’ll control myself.”
(“Self Control”~from “The Music Machine”~Mike Milligan~1977)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2012. All Rights Reserved.