There are a handful of shows on a certain network that my third grader loves to watch. While I do not object to these particular programs, it is getting increasingly difficult to censor the garbage in between. Out of frustration one night, I finally just blocked the channel. Needless to say, I had a very unhappy child when she found out what I had done. As I crawled into bed later that evening, I asked God to help me show my little girl why this particular network cannot be available to watch in our house. That is when He gave me a great idea. I was going to use dog food.
I woke my daughter up the next morning and prepared her breakfast. She pulled up a chair and watched as I scooped a spoonful of dog food into her bowl. Her eyes grew ever larger as I poured the cereal on top and mixed it all together. Realization clouded her face as her protests came with increasing urgency. “Mom, I can’t eat dog food!”
“Why? What’s wrong with dog food? It is food, isn’t it?”
“Yeah but dogs eat it! I can’t eat that!”
“Lucy eats it. It’s good for her. It’s mixed in your cereal so you’re still getting the parts that taste good. What is it that you don’t like?”
As I took the milk out of the refrigerator I watched her eyes well up with tears.
“People don’t eat dog food!”
I put the milk down and looked at her.
“Even though it’s mixed in with your cereal, it’s still not ok to eat, right? Kind of like your television shows. They might be good but there is still dog food mixed in.”
I could see that she wasn’t making the connection so I turned to Matthew 6:22-23 and made her read it to me. In these verses, Jesus reminds us that the eye is the lamp of the body. As she poured a fresh bowl of cereal I explained how everything we put into our eyes goes into our brains and has a direct influence over the choices we make. Then I asked her what she thinks about when she watches a show. Not surprisingly, she said that she thinks about what’s happening on the screen in front of her. Together we read from Philippians 4:8 and talked about what happens when we watch television.
I explained that when we watch something that does not honor God, it gets inside our head and grows and gently snuffs out the Light that God put in us. Jesus says that we are the light of the world. We are the only Bible that some people will ever read. If we allow our thoughts to be filled with the darkness of the world, the light of Christ will slowly start to fade and eventually we will not even be able to see Him in ourselves.
Thankfully, my child received my words and understood what I was telling her. As I watched her cry for the painful lesson in letting go, I reminded her that being a Christian is not easy and that sometimes we have to make hard choices. There will be times in our lives when we need to let go of something we like or want in exchange for obedience to our Lord. As the Newsboys sang “Shine” to us on the radio, I hugged my daughter and thanked Him for the privilege of raising her. I might not have all the answers to parenting, but I know who does. It turns out that God is a pretty creative Father.