947 and 2245.

These are the number of podcasts I have yet to listen to, as well as the number of iTunes U classes that I want to listen to or watch. I realize that those are huge numbers and I should probably scale back, but I am making headway. Both of those numbers were a lot larger not that long ago.

The reason they went down is because I started delivering newspapers. I was by myself and could listen to a few podcasts as I was running around early in the morning. I miss the few hours of sleep that I am sacrificing, but I do like having some disposable income and having time to listen and learn from different educators and preachers. But it dawned on me today that I may need to press pause on my iPod. And when I thought about it, I’m sure a lot of people should take this advice to heart.

I was running up to one house, dropped the newspaper into the mailbox, and a wave of voices filled my head. No, I’m not crazy. But the voice of different speakers, different sermons and talks repeated in my mind. All the things I had heard while I was at this one mailbox, while I was delivering to this one particular house suddenly flooded my mind.

I was taken aback. There were so many voices speaking to me. So many ideas of others rattling around and echoing over and over. I became concerned about my mental wellbeing. While it is good, even essential, to have someone teaching us and educating us about things we know very little about, we need to take a break. There comes a point when we need to unplug. The earbuds need to come out. The pause button must be pressed. Wisdom and knowledge are great things, but too often we overload on the information that is available to us.

Think of it this way. Imagine you are planting a garden, and someone keeps whispering in your ear that you should plant one kind of vegetable. “Plant corn. Hey! You should be putting corn in your garden. You really want corn to grow here. Plant corn, you know its the best thing for you.” If that is the only voice that you hear, if no one else offers you an opinion, or if you have no thoughts about what to plant, guess what you will end up planting? Most likely corn.

If you are listening to podcasts or online courses, if you are only reading one author and everything that they write, if you are letting other people fill your mind with their voices, guess what will happen? You will have no opinions of your own. You will have no original thoughts, no ideas that started in your own mind. You will become a zombie gardener, planting corn because someone else said to. You will be living your life, thinking thoughts, acting a certain way, all because someone else told you to.

Remember what I said; it isn’t wrong to let others educate or inform you. I encourage it. But I also want to caution you that too much of a good thing can be a very damaging thing.

There comes a point where we need to give our minds time to relax, a chance to speak for itself. We need to make room for our own thoughts and ideas to be birthed. We need to give the garden an opportunity to grow unique vegetables—maybe beans or tomatoes. Something that is not corn.

I know that I’ll go back to listen to podcasts and iTunes U classes eventually, but for now I’m pressing pause. I want the gift of my mind and my ideas to have a chance to grow and flourish. I want to take what God has gifted me with an opportunity to sprout something unique, something that wasn’t planted by a teacher or a pastor, something that isn’t corn.

And I encourage you to do that same thing. There is something unique and beautiful, ready to be planted in the garden of your mind, if you give it a chance.

Pull out the earbuds. Press pause.

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