Fearfully Wonderfully Me

Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion

Tag: 13 reasons why

How to View Media in a God Honoring Way

I remember having a movie night with a childhood friend. We were eating snacks and talking, and everything was awesome. That is, until I realized the superhero movie we were watching was so full of swear words that I couldn’t make it past the first fifteen minutes.

As the years go by and I continue to grow in my faith, I can see the way media affects my life and the lives of those around me. Season two of the show 13 Reasons Why was recently released on Netflix, and reading this incredible post from blogger Beauty Beyond Bones has inspired me to also discuss the dangers of media.

13 Reasons Why focuses on a teen girl who committed suicide, and the blame she places on those around her through a series of tapes. I’ve never seen this show before, and I do not plan to. It graphically portrays suicide, bullying, rape, and other issues in a way that is often too traumatizing for teens and adults to process.

Media is powerful, and can either hinder our faith or build it up. Read on for more on the dangers of media and ways to view media in a wise and God-honoring way.

When Media Becomes a Compromise

It’s borderline impossible to watch a movie without some degree of  swearing, violence, or sexuality in it. Even kids movies contain these things! However, sometimes we are tempted to watch something that is beyond the threshold of what we know is appropriate.

During that movie night with my friend, I could have chosen to keep watching the superhero movie. However, this would be compromising my values because I knew it wasn’t right. There was a ton of violence and crude swearing–both of which I am sensitive to.

As Christians, compromising media is thrown at our faces so much that all of us are tempted at times. And that’s okay, the Lord doesn’t expect perfection from us. God does, however, expect us to be on guard over what we view on our TVs, phones, and computers.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Although one bad movie or book might not seem like a big deal, it opens the door for compromise. We must prayerfully assess all that we watch, read, and listen to in order to avoid compromise.

The Need for Discernment

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23 that what we put into our hearts eventually manifests itself in our lives. That is why we must be careful of the media we view. When we watch shows like 13 Reasons Why, we are thrown into the dark world of depression and suicide. And if you’re someone who is struggling with these issues, this can cause great harm. 

When we view content on social media, we are influenced by the crude and sometimes borderline pornographic content on these sites. Even worse, sometimes we become desensitized to these things and our values no longer hold true to us anymore.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

There is no way we can avoid everything “wrong” in media. We would have to avoid it completely, which is legalistic and missing the point of what God wants for us.

There are movies and books that contain some swearing or violence, however, they have excellent messages. One movie I can think of in particular is The Blind Side, which happens to have a strong faith message rooted in the story.

We must study God’s Word, which is our source of truth. The Holy Spirit guides  us so we can avoid media that might harm us instead of building up our faith.

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How to View Media in a God Honoring Way

Media in Focus

The truth of God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit helps us avoid harmful shows, movies, and websites. And of course, we should always be on guard against sinful media.

But there’s something we must focus on that can be easily forgotten in our fight against compromise. We need to set our eyes on good things that draw us closer to Jesus and the message of the Gospel.

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)

When we fill our lives with truthful, lovely, and pure things, it drowns out the evil in this world. There are so many movies and books with good messages  and values. And there are Christian podcasts, social media accounts, and websites to entertain and inform us. With all this free media at our fingertips, it’s easy to find wholesome things to view.

Media has powerful influence to either distract us from Jesus, or to encourage our pursuit of Him. Seeking the Lord and pursuing honorable sources of media and entertainment is the key to a balanced life.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

(Photography by Becca Tapert and Annie Spratt)

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What Suicide Can Teach Us About Being a Light

Some of you may be surprised how hard I’ve been hit by the tragic news of the suicide of Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the band Linkin Park. This was a band I listened to during my adolescence, a time of turmoil and angst like it is for many other teens. I didn’t really know the Lord during my early teens, and so secular music was all I listened to. This was a band that helped me through some pretty rough times.

Suicide Affects Everyone

Chester Bennington died in a tragic way that no one should ever have to experience. He committed suicide. He hanged himself. Sounds pretty heavy, right? Not something we tend to talk about in prayer circles or Sunday breakfast clubs.

And that’s exactly what’s wrong with our culture.

Bennington is not the only celebrity to suffer from depression and commit suicide. Think of Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain, or L’Wren Scott.  Think of the rise in Christian pastors  struggling with depression and suicide.

Suicide isn’t just something that happens to “really messed up” people. It happens to our neighbors, our pastors, our friends, and our family. And now with shows like 13 Reasons Why, suicide and self-harm is more glamorized than ever. Suddenly young people are becoming desensitized to the consequences of these actions. After all, what harm could it be if all of the celebrities and cool TV characters are doing it?

The most important thing to remember is that suicide is never an isolated incident. We all feel the ripple effects, whether we are close family, a neighbor, or a fan of the person’s art. Suicide affects everyone.

The Calling

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that after a celebrity or prominent person of society dies or commits suicide, suddenly everyone decides that now is the time to reach out and show their love. I’m not saying that it is bad to pay your respects when someone dies, or that it means you didn’t do anything to help when they were alive. But if you take a moment to search Chester Bennington’s name in Twitter, you will find an outpouring of love and concern that you just normally wouldn’t see.

The question I’m wondering is, why can’t we always be like this?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5: 14-16 NIV)

 

As Christians, we have an amazing calling. We are called to be lights in this dark world. Imagine a world where every Christian encouraged at least one person every day. Instead of just waiting for tomorrow, why aren’t we expressing our love for one another right now? Why aren’t we forgiving one another and expressing our love today?

I don’t say this to be critical. I say this because I know I need it too. One of Linkin Park’s latest songs is called One More Light, and I find it to be a song of both sadness and inspiration. It’s a wake-up call, for you and for me.

Becoming The Light

I struggled with depression in high school and college, especially when my chronic health issues developed. Thankfully I have been healed of it by God’s grace, therapy, and supportive family and friends. But I still remember how the darkness haunted me. I wasn’t pulled as deep into the shadows as some people are, but I know enough to realize that we can’t ignore this issue any longer.

We don’t have to wait until another person commits suicide to start caring about the depressed and those struggling with mental health issues. We don’t have to wait until one more light goes out before we do something. You and I can be a light for Jesus right now, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Just find one person to encourage today.

Find one person and tell them that they matter. Because every soul matters to God, and He wants their light to shine eternally.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Note: If you or someone you know is depressed or feels suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You don’t have to fight this alone. 

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