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Look Straight Ahead - Don't Get Sidetracked (Or Sucked In)

“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.” Proverbs 4:25

I’ll be honest, I have a hard time letting things go. When I feel hurt by someone, I want to hold on to that hurt. I feel justified in doing so. If I keep being hurt, then I can gossip about the person who hurt me and get sympathy from others.

Have you ever seen the movie Mean Girls? There’s a scene where the main character Cady can’t stop gossiping about her nemesis Regina George. Even though she knew her friends were sick of hearing her talking about it, she just couldn’t stop the “word vomit.”

I found myself doing this exact thing. I felt hurt by someone I trusted, and I wanted to gossip about this person every chance I could get. I felt justified. Even though I promised myself that I would stop gossiping, it was difficult. I even manipulated conversations so that people would bring up this person so that I could talk about them.

It turned out that during all this, I began slipping into depression. I became extremely unmotivated in my jobs. I was tired all the time. I felt lazy for no reason. I even got physically sick - my migraines were worse than ever. However, I didn’t link any of this to the anger that was deep in my heart.

While I was recovering from the flu earlier this year, I decided to pick up my Bible and read - something I hadn’t done in weeks. I turned to Proverbs 4, and the end of it hit me like a ton of bricks:

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:23-27 (NLT)

I realized how much anger lived in my heart. No amount of talking about it was going to fix it. No amount of gossiping was going to fix it. No amount of drumming up the past was going to fix it. The only thing that could fix it was God.

Friends, I allowed that anger to fester and grow for nearly an entire year.

I didn’t guard my heart from anger and resentment. In the end, it did nothing except make me miserable and sick.

This is why the author of Proverbs is so adamant about guarding the heart. Because if we don’t, things like anger, greed, jealousy, and pride can slip in unnoticed. As those things begin to take root and grow, they start determining the course of our lives! This is why notorious criminals often start out with one small crime that snowballs into something drastic. In my case, I allowed anger to turn into resentment. It snowballed into gossiping and depression.

We need to guard our hearts, but what else does the author say? We must also avoid perverse talk and speech. This means no lying, boasting, gossiping, ext.

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. – Proverbs 21:23 (NIV)

Here’s another verse in James that talks about the tongue:

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. – James 3:6

These verses make it clear that the tongue can do a whole lot of damage, to both ourselves and to other people. In fact, gossiping is never helpful to anyone. It causes nothing but problems. This is why guarding your tongue is just as important as guarding your heart.

You might be asking, “Jenn, if I’ve been hurt, what’s the next step?

The author of Proverbs states that the best way to live your life is to “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.”

For me, this was the most impactful verse I read while I was struggling with my depression, anger, resentment, and of course, the flu. I realized that looking at the hurt I experienced so many months ago was keeping me from growing. It was causing me to only focus on something that happened in the past, when I needed to be present. I needed to focus on important things like my family, job, faith, church, community, and health.

When you think about it, “Looking straight ahead” is an excellent way to live. It keeps us focused on what truly matters, instead of reliving the past that we can never go back and change. The author of Proverbs even stated that “looking straight ahead” guides us towards a “safe path” that we should never leave.

Right then and there, I decided the first step I would take to “look straight ahead” was to get better from the flu. (Haha, no joke.) But now that I’ve been over the flu for several weeks, my next step is to make new goals for myself, for P40 Ministries, and the Bible Explained Podcast. I definitely don’t want to get sucked into the sin of anger and gossip like I did earlier.

What about you?

Do you have any anger or resentment that is eating you up? How does it make you feel?

What is a step you can take to “look straight ahead” instead of feeling resentful about something in your past? Is there a goal you can set?

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