Deworming the Earworm

Eeeew!  This is my reaction to this disgusting-sounding title. However, this post is not really going to be about slimy creatures living inside the crevices of our inner ears or about long squiggly worms “gracefully” cascading down from the openings in our ears.

“Earworms” is a word coined within the last decade used to describe catchy phrases, jingles or songs that get stuck in our minds – and while there are replayed over and over (and over) again.  Several recent happenings brought “earworms” to my attention. One is an article I read yesterday, while in the Zurich airport, in a magazine entitled “Hear the World”. (My mother was deaf the last twenty years of her life, so articles about hearing often catch my attention).  This particular article was about “earworms” – what causes them (they don’t know) and how to get rid of them.

Also, this past weekend my oldest granddaughter, who was visiting us, began to sing a jingle from an advertisement for a jewelry store – “Every kiss begins with Kay”.  As she was singing I  began to randomly say the word “Kay”, and then give her younger sister (who was sitting on my lap)  a kiss each time I said the word.  This brought on laughter, which brought on more spoken “Kays” followed up with kisses. Unfortunately, I was left singing this little ditty in my head all day long.  Now that I have mentioned it, if you are familiar with the song I may have just passed this annoyance on to you. Similarly, If I were to write a paragraph encouraging you not to think about a red airplane – and then kept repeating instructions, “don’t think about a red-colored airplane” – chances are you would have it clearly pictured in your mind.

I read in the magazine article that studies show that the best solution for ridding our minds of “earworms” is to to sing a different song or say another phrase. Funny thing, the scriptures have always taught this God-given principle.  A scripture that has become a well used tool for me is found in Romans 12:21.  It simply states,
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Another scripture that teaches this principle is told in Matthew 12:43-45
“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. [44] Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. [45] Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first…”

When I have an unrighteous thought, word or attitude come into my head I can be sure it will want to “take up residence” in my heart.  I can let it fester and take root, or I can decide (with the help of God) to send it away.  These scriptures teach me that, just like the earworms, I won’t be able to get rid of these thoughts, words or attitudes just by thinking about getting them out of my head.  Instead, I need to replace them with something else, such as what is described in Philip. 4:8
Finally, brothers, 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.

When I keep scriptures, songs and righteous “good thoughts”  in my “arsenal of memory”. they prove again and again  to be antidotes for having the “sinworms” take me captive. These “sinworms” are far more destructive than “earworms”, which can just be annoying.  Either way, I never have liked worms.

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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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