I have NEVER written about music from this perspective before, so here it goes…..
I. LOVE. MUSIC. End of story. I have heard many different types and genres of music everywhere – on the radio, in the malls, on movies, etc. but I never gave it more than a passing thought – until recently. I have a new set of friends who are heading in the same direction as I am (in their life goals, spiritual choices, etc.) and I realize that our music preferences are quite different. I can instantly tell you why: It’s all based on how we were raised or what we experienced up to this point.
If you read “It’s My Life and I Live Here: One Woman’s Story” you learned about my Pentecostal, ultra-conservative upbringing. We (me and my 2 younger sisters) weren’t allowed to wear pants until I was 12 or so, and even then we couldn’t wear them on the streets. When we relocated to the United States we were allowed to wear them because we would FREEZE in the winter otherwise, but we continued to wear them in the summer. We are now fine with that, I think.
Then I faced horrible acne in my late teens. For years no-one offered or thought of make-up. (Yes, that is true.) After some time I realized I wasn’t going to burn in hell for wearing it and sought a remedy for the self-esteem hits I was taking without make-up.
Then it went on to wearing jewelry. We were not allowed to wear jewelry, but I ALWAYS admired those who did. They seemed more beautiful to me. So one day, I took the courage to go to the mall with my youngest sister and had my ears pierced. I was 35. Yes, this happened fairly recently. One day my grandmother looked at me and asked why did I resort to wearing jewelry after not doing so for most of my life? She thought that it shouldn’t have happened. My response was this: “Wearing jewelry has not changed my relationship with God in any way, so I have no issues wearing it. ” In fact, I feel beautiful when I am fully made up, wearing beautiful accessories and a nice dress (I LOVE dresses)!
You may wonder what does all of what I said have to do with music? I’ll tell you now. As I mentioned earlier, I have been meeting some powerful, saved people who LOVE God and listen to music that isn’t considered “church” music. My entire musical experience has only been Christian music – whether it’s Contemporary Christian, Gospel, R&B, reggae, jazz, you name it, it’s all Christian. So when I had my graduation party a few weeks ago and my friends offered their music for the event, I was able to silence the mental battle and play what they had in their repertoire. And guess what? We had SO MUCH FUN! It was interesting, because I would ask “Who’s singing now?” almost every time a song came on, because I am THAT clueless about music that isn’t church music. When they gave me the history, the background, etc. I felt like I was in a foreign land, much like when I first came to the United States in 1988.
Since that event I have been wrestling with my thoughts on music. (I am VERY analytic by nature.) Will I shut down God’s voice if I listen to other types of music besides what I’ve known all these years? Will it affect my relationship with God (or any other area of my life) or cause me to compromise in any way? I will tell you why I struggle with this situation. Music has the power to change the atmosphere of a place quicker than anything else. I am cautious because I’ve heard horrors about music being played in reverse with subliminal messages that push people to commit crimes or to dabble in the occult, etc. I am also cautious because whatever I listen to becomes part of me. Music does that to me EVERY time. Because one of my acquaintances loves to listen to Jill Scott’s “Golden” and I hear it often, it’s one of my mental “girl” anthems now. “Golden” is now part of who I am. (LOL…)
So I debate on if I should begin to assimilate other types of music into my current repertoire. The jury is still out on this one, but for now, I’m not as hesitant (as I was in the past) to listen to something different from what I’ve heard all my life. I am careful however, because I am not quick to listen to “Turn the lights down low, etc” types of music at this stage in my life. I am single and abstinent (until marriage) and I believe that what I listen to will have a direct effect on where my mind goes, which will make abstinence that much harder to live out and do. I believe that regardless of what’s on my Pandora, in my iTunes or on my CD player, it must be uplifting, encouraging, empowering and NEVER degrading.
As I decide where I will go with this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts.