Summer is practically here and you might have plans to take the family to an amusement park of some kind.
I remember being at amusement parks and city fairs as a kid. The lines would sometimes be long, and only a set number of riders were permitted on a given ride at a time. I remember how riders would inch closer and closer trying to be among those counted to get their turn to ride, but it didn't matter. As soon as the designated number of riders had occupied the seats, there would be a gate or some barrier preventing any more riders beyond that point.
I remember seeing riders turned away because they did not meet the height requirement to ride a particular ride. As I waited in line, I would always read the huge signs posted with the rules to ride and warnings to riders.
I thought about my years at Six Flags and the various fairs and had a bit of a revelation. We, as individuals, must learn to have similar control over our inner circle.
So often we let anything and anyone go. Mooching friends, negative co-workers, unsupportive family and disloyal significant others all get a pass through the gate right into our inner circle.
Distasteful or meaningless music and television programs alike are given unlimited access into our inner circle.
The reason the amusement parks and the city fairs have certain restrictions and guidelines is so that they protect both themselves as well as the public.
We ought to embrace this same idea when it comes to our inner circle or special dwelling.
People and things should have to meet certain standards before being permitted into our inner circle.
No negativity permitted beyond this point. No liars permitted beyond this point. No degrading messages permitted beyond this point.
These should be the signs we have up in order to protect ourselves. We have to guard against people and things that do not serve us well. In other words, if it means us no good, we cannot allow it to permeate our inner space.
We cannot be afraid to put up a gate or a sign prohibiting certain people and certain things. When we fail to do this, we allow whatever negativity and unfruitfulness attached to those people or things to take root in our inner place.
This is why people who associate themselves with one another often think alike, act alike, and care about the same things. This is why people who listen to certain kinds of lyrics and watch certain things on television convey the messages they hear and portray the images they see.
At any given point, we will all encounter people and things that should not be permitted into our inner place. To be around gossiping, complacent or disgruntled folks is sometimes unavoidable because you may work with them or live with them. The key, however, is knowing how to put up a gate or a sign to protect them from invading your inner place.
Listen to music that uplifts, encourages, and inspires. Watch television programs that motivate and ignite creativity. Associate with ambitious, engaging, giving, and productive people. Read material that educates, enlightens, and empowers.
So, just what is this inner circle, inner place, or special dwelling? Here, I define it as the place between our minds and our spirits. Things, messages, good or bad, constructive or not, fruitful or barren can take root and inevitably cause us to take on their characteristics.
In essence, we have to be careful of who and what we allow "beyond this point."
Will you deny entrance? What does your sign say?
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.