Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
This topic of mental purity has been going around in my head since the start of the year. I found in my teenage years and early 20’s, in my circles a lot of emphasis was placed on physical purity which of course is important, however, very little was mentioned about mental purity. Given that our actions are a result of our thoughts, I think it is more important to begin with the root- our mind and thoughts. When we partner with God to cultivate a purity mindset, physical purity is an outflow of this.
During my teenage years, I never really considered the need to guard my mind or focus on mental purity. In this post, I therefore wanted to put a spotlight on mental purity and my personal struggle.
How It Began
I have always enjoyed reading and as a teenager, having exhausted all the children’s and teenage/young adults’ books at my local library, I began reading adult romance novels as I grew tired of re-reading the same books and wanted to read something new. This started me down a very slippery slope as I unintentionally began to fill my mind with images and thoughts from the books I was reading. It left me feeling horrible and I knew I should stop but it was much easier said than done. I would stop for a few months but soon fall back down the slope again ending up a crumpled mess at the bottom.
Counting the Cost
Hindsight is 20/20 and now I look back and see what that season in my life cost me: the mental purity that I easily gave away, the constant battle this area would become in my mind and thoughts, the distraction it would be in my pursuit of God and the time ultimately wasted. This is by no means an exhaustive list as it affected my life in almost every area.
This phrase has really been on my heart recently. Thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the victory He won for me, the experience I described above was not the end. Jesus saw me in my mess and loved me enough to meet me there and set me on a new path to wholeness and healing. It was not an instantaneous transformation but a process walked out each day as He helped me renew my mind, replacing negative thought patterns, and changed my desires so that I truly began to pursue the things of God.
What Does It Matter
I used to ask myself, what does it matter if I read such & such a book? I’m not actually doing anything… Why should mental purity matter to me?
I can share what would be considered a spiritual answer but the answer I would give my younger self, in reality, is very simple.
It’s just not worth it.
- It’s not worth the feelings of regret and shame that linger long after the books have been read and discarded.
- It’s not worth the the trade off in your relationship with God.
- It’s not worth the years spent replacing the images that lodge themselves in your mind which the enemy uses to try to lure you back.
I don’t look back over that time and think wow, I’m so glad I spent the time that God gave me in that way. Rather, I sometimes wonder how much further along I would be on this journey if I hadn’t taken that path.
Where I Am Today
My story is still ongoing. Different things can still trigger a memory or an image although by God’s grace it happens less often these days. My response to these occurrences is still the same: I pray and ask God to help me when it happens. I ask Him to remind me of His love and goodness and I replace that wayward thought with one which is edifying to my mind and glorifying to Him.
Looking back, it seemed like such slow going repeating this process so many times but each time I fought a battle and won, I added another block in what has become a firm foundation for growth in my relationship with God. I’ve personally experienced God’s love, mercy and grace in ways I didn’t know existed.
As I’ve focused on my relationship with God and prioritised it over the years, it’s been amazing to watch God work in my life and I’m excited to see what He has in store for my future 🙂
If you struggle in this area, here are a couple of resources I found tremendously helpful:
Blog: Beggar’s Daughter by Jessica Harris (Although her struggle was not exactly the same as mine, I still could relate and was encouraged in my journey)
It’s never too late and nothing you’ve done will prevent God from loving & forgiving you. Start cultivating a purity mindset in your life today.
✞ Are You Really In?