Back when I was a teen volunteering at a summer camp, I remember a co-worker telling me a funny story from her youth. She said that for years she had been duped by her older siblings into believing that the hard flower nib at the end of the banana was inedible. The ‘nurgle’, they told her, was deadly poisonous, and should therefore be avoided at all costs.
Then one day, when my co-worker was in her late teens, she was with a group of friends and saw one of them about to chow down on the last bite of banana.
“Stop!” she shouted in desperation, “DON’T EAT THE NURGLE!!!”
This statement, and her sheepish explanation for it, was received with great hilarity by her friends. They dissuaded her from the truth of it and reassured her that it was safe to eat the banana in its entirety, but it took her a while to believe that she had been fooled all those years by her mischievous older siblings.
I was thinking about this anecdote recently. My acquaintance hadn’t eaten ‘the nurgle’, but she had swallowed her siblings’ story – hook, line, and sinker. And she’s not the only one. I think that all of us are walking around with various beliefs planted there by people we’ve encountered through our lives. In my co-worker’s case, it was a deliberate (albeit harmless) deception; but many of us have unwittingly taken on casually disseminated untruths or half-truths without questioning their veracity. As a result, we’re walking around with all kinds of foolish notions in our heads – notions like, ‘I just don’t have what it takes…’, ‘Love shouldn’t be hard work’, and, ‘He who dies with the most toys, wins’. Some of these notions we’ve adopted are troublesome; some of them are downright dangerous.
Each of us is fed a multitude of ideas every day – by the media, by family, friends and acquaintances, by our own limited experience and through our own biases. We absorb these ideas about ourselves and about the world around us and those ideas inform our choices. And, over time, these ideas seep into our psyche and become core beliefs.
In the worst cases, these entrenched beliefs can cause us to hold onto lies that poison our sense of self. They can challenge our own sense of worth, and they can cause us to devalue others.
I haven’t been immune to this gullibility. For one thing, I bought into this myth for ages: big girls don’t run. For years, I thought I just wasn’t physically capable of enjoying running because of my various physical attributes – but after discovering the wonders of good shoes, solid training, and a couple of firm sports bras, I realized that running could actually be fun. Go figure.
And of course there have been plenty of other lies I’ve swallowed about what perfection or success should look like, and so forth.
The challenge for us is in sorting out truth from fiction and exposing the ‘nurgles’ in our lives.
The next time you’re standing in front of a mirror and despising what you see, tell yourself, Don’t eat the nurgle! I’m fearfully and wonderfully made… God’s works are wonderful – I know that full well.”
When you meet someone and their outward appearance isn’t to your liking, repeat to yourself, Don’t eat the nurgle! I’m not going to judge a book by its cover.
If you find yourself feeling angry with someone or judging a group of people by what you know of a few, remind yourself, Don’t eat the nurgle! Walk a mile in their shoes, be peaceful, sow love…
It might sound bananas (ha!), but maybe a silly story is enough to help us challenge the lies that we’ve swallowed and embrace the wonderful truth and beauty in our lives.
Don’t eat the nurgle!