…to music, that is. I think it’s kind of a two-part question.
First, if you listen to mainstream music, are you really paying attention to the lyrics?
About seven or eight years ago, I started to become a little disillusioned with secular music. Most of the time, my car stereo was tuned to a local country station, and while I enjoyed most of the music itself, the messages involved were beginning to bother me. I couldn’t justify wanting to walk more closely with the Lord while filling my mind with earthly things. I remember my second year as a teacher, I was asked to judge the school talent show try-outs, and I was horrified at the music choices (and accompanying choreography… eek!) of students as young as five years old. It’s one thing to see a fully-grown woman singing about her “lady lumps” but seeing a chubby-cheeked first grader shake it like a Polaroid picture was too much for me to handle. I’m sure their mothers (who were dancing right along with them at the back of the room) thought their daughters were adorable… but I’m also sure that they didn’t really stop to think about exactly what those innocent little girls were singing. Reflecting on different seasons in my life, it’s pretty interesting to see how much of a sub-conscious impact my entertainment choices have had… I can see how I might’ve carried around some baggage by listening to something that objectified women or glorified materialism. The songs had a catchy beat, the movies starred my favorite actors, and the books had an intriguing storyline. But at what cost?
Occasionally, I’d get really sick of it, and change the station to KLOVE for a day or two. I didn’t know many of the songs at that point, but it was easy to listen to, and I could avoid all the sex and materialism the other stuff presented. Once Ryder was born, I became more conscious of the words I was singing… and my mild irritation turned toward disgust. So I started listening to Christian music exclusively (unless you count the occasional Disney soundtrack or “classic kids’ songs” CD). Before long, I noticed my overall attitude had changed, and I knew that my son wasn’t hearing anything I wouldn’t want him repeating to his Sunday School teacher.
So that leads me to my second question: If you listen to Christian music, are you really paying attention to the lyrics?
It’s so easy for me to become complacent… to absentmindedly sing along. It happens to all of us. The radio is on while we’re cleaning the house or driving in the car, and the music just blends into the background. But it can even happen in church… even from the stage! We just robotically sing along, not really taking it all in.
But there is some incredibly powerful stuff in Christian music, y’all! And I’m not just talking about hymns. Today’s artists are so gifted, and the truth they’re singing about is timeless and matchless and breathtaking… and safe for the whole family. Their music is meant to inspire, to convict, to praise, to teach Biblical truth by making it easy to remember. Many of their songs serve as musical prayers.
I’m grateful for those moments that God makes a particular song get stuck in my head. I catch myself singing the same chorus, or even just a phrase, over and over again and get a little frustrated that I can’t make it stop. But when I pause long enough to pay attention to the words I’m singing, I find that it coincides with a lesson I’m learning, a fear I’m facing, an obstacle I’m trying to overcome, or even something I’m rejoicing about. It’s then that I remember that He’s always with me, always teaching me, always rejoicing with me.
How can you listen to words like “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind, the God of angel armies is always by my side” and not be humbled and encouraged. He created the universe, and brought dead people back to life – He’s kind of a big deal.
But He stands by MY side… He knows ME by name. WOW!
This post was inspired by personal experience last week… an experience I have over and over again in my lifetime as a believer, because like I said, it’s easy to become complacent. I practiced our worship set on my own at home all week, and had all the right words and notes memorized. Then we had rehearsal on Saturday and again on Sunday morning. So by the time our first service started, I’d probably sung those particular songs dozens of times. My brain had definitely been engaged the whole time. But it wasn’t until the second service, during the last two songs of the day, that God got really got my attention. He reminded me that giving just my heart and my voice isn’t enough… he wants my heart too. And when it comes to music, you can’t put your heart into it if you’re just singing along.
Let me encourage you to really pay attention to what you’re listening to. One way or another, your mood, your day, your outlook, and ultimately your life will be changed.