We went camping last summer. It was a campground with no running water, no electricity, and no Wi-Fi or cell phone coverage. We had to drive 30 minutes to get any of these modern amenities.

Our water source was a creek at the bottom of our mountain. The kids loved going down every day to splash in the cool waters and pump water for drinking.

They discovered sparkly silt close to the banks that glittered in the sun like gold flecks when they moved the water.

We were inexperienced and did not realize that those flecks would clog our filter system.

The first two days our filter pumps worked fine. Suddenly, on the third day, the pumps stopped working. We could not move the handles to move the water through the filter chamber.

I took the pump apart and found the brand-new filter was now black and gold. The pretty gold flecks and the dirt had clogged our filter. Instead of dropping the input hose by the banks of the creek where the silt would enter our filtration system, we should have put it in the moving water, farther from the bank. We cleaned out the filter the best we could, and managed to get the pump going again, but the brand-new filter was never the same.

This experience of filters and our environment has started an ongoing conversation in our family. These are two important realizations we made that carried over into our everyday life:

1. Consciously choose the environments you are in.

If we place ourselves in places with lots of silt, and even pretty gold flecks, our filters can get clogged easily, and our access to clean, good, and essential things like truth, goodness, and love can get blocked.

2. Clean your filter regularly.

In our ongoing discussion about filters, we have realized the importance of daily spiritual practices as a way to clean our filters. Prayer, spiritual practices, and regular conversations with each other about the less visible, but important things like our spiritual growth, God, and love, help to clean out our filters that work so hard every day to protect our minds and spirits so they can grow to their full potential.

We recently got a fish tank and a collection of tropical freshwater fish and a snail. The tank has a filter that cycles the dirty water with animal waste and leftover food. It then releases clean, oxygenated water back into the tank.  This led us to one more new realization to add to our list of lessons related to filters:

3. Carry your filter every day.

We live in a world full of ideologies that counter God’s truth and true love. Children have to enter toxic environments every day that project immoral lifestyles or negative thinking. This reinforces the importance of having our filters wherever we go; in a classroom while browsing YouTube or even in conversations with others. Filters keep out contaminants, sometimes lethal, and keeps the clean water flowing.

Filters have taught my children the powerful lessons to consciously choose good environments to be in and keep their filters clean through daily prayer and study of God’s words. Every morning in their prayers they remind themselves to carry their filters when they go into the world so they can discern and keep out negative thoughts and emotions, harmful images and information, and untruths.

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