If you grew up in the seventies or eighties like me, you probably remember Madge, the pitch woman for Palmolive dishwashing liquid for over twenty years. Every commercial went pretty much the same way.
A lady would walk in to get a manicure from Madge, who would immediately make a crack about her dry skin. Then she would soak the woman’s fingers in a bowl of a mysterious beauty product while they chatted. I don’t know how manicures work, but I’m assuming this is business as usual. At some point the woman would break down and confess her terrible skin condition was the result of washing dishes.
That’s when Madge would tell the woman she should switch to Palmolive, a dishwashing liquid that actually softened your hands while you used it. The woman would act surprised, then Marge would reveal the big twist. Palmolive? You’re soaking in it! Mic drop!
I don’t know how good Palmolive dishwashing liquid really is at softening skin, but I was thinking about that commercial this morning when I was reflecting back on the past week. Lately I’ve noticed my mood is drastically affected by whatever I happen to be soaking my mind in each day.
When I saturate my brain with news and entertainment, anxiety, irritability and melancholy bubble to the surface. However, when I immerse myself in the Bible and books and music that point me back to God, I can feel my heart soften and my spirit soar.
God reminded me this morning that what I’m soaking my brain in really matters, especially at a time like this.
Philippians 4:8 says, “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” (NIV).
I first read that verse over 25 years ago, but I’m still learning the truth of it today. My focus determines my future. My head shapes my heart. My obsessions affect my outcomes.
This isn’t new information, but during a season of social distancing and doing so much of our living and relating online, the effect of where I point my brain is more obvious and immediate than ever before.
Is it okay to check the news and watch my favorite shows online? Sometimes. Believe me, after a stressful day I’m as big a fan of mindless entertainment as the next person, and I like to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the world.
But I can’t soak in it. I can’t overdo it, because if I do, I’ll see it play out in my thoughts, my attitude and ultimately in who I’m becoming during the Coronavirus crisis and beyond.
The more I bend my brain toward heaven by reading, watching and listening to things that encourage my heart, the more helpful I am to everyone around me and the more I experience peace even in the midst of chaos.