“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
(Romans 12:2)

If you have little siblings or you’ve ever been around any toddlers or young children, then you are probably familiar with the joys of hearing them randomly echo or repeat things that someone around them has said. Every once in a while, I am caught off guard by something my two-year-old brother says. A few of his favorite sayings at the moment are “Oh my goodness!” and “Don’t hit people!” – which he frequently uses at random. There’s no doubt that small children pick up on the mannerisms, behavior, and language being used around them, and although as teenagers we have a stronger gift of discernment, we are still similarly influenced by the things around us.

There is no way to control what happens in the world around us, but we can choose what we allow ourselves to be influenced by. The music we listen to, the books we read, the movies we watch, the people whose opinions we value, the people we spend time with and who we look up to are all choices we make every day. It’s hard to have a positive attitude when you’re listening to a negative song. It’s not easy to love the skin you’re in when you are listening to the media tell you it isn’t good enough. It can be hard to have a grateful heart when you are watching movies that set a standard for how your life should look.

What we take to heart is important. We were not meant to conform to this world, but instead, be “transformed by the renewal of our minds” and with the gift of discernment decide what is “good and acceptable and perfect” for our lives. Today, the media is constantly shouting out the word “acceptance,” and often times it seems like we should just desensitize ourselves and go along with what is “in.” But the truth is, we are not called to live an ordinary, go-with-the-flow life, and God would love to be our influence – all we have to do is ask.

-Daisy Budgick