On Wednesday of this week, Lent begins. Yes. Two days from now, we begin a time of penitential retreat. We focus on God's great love for us, and at some points, we will have to face our own faults, imperfections, and sins. We will be be actually sacrificing something in order to draw ourselves closer to Him, and further away from things that hold us back from Him. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days Catholics abstain from meat, and limit ourselves to one meal and two snacks in order to focus on Him and less on us.
I have tried to explain here how we can focus more on Him and less on us by giving up things other than food for Lent. (It's not that I don't need to be less attached to food, but that I don't want to limit myself to treating Lent like some sort of Catholic Diet Plan. There are other things besides the occasion Bavarian Cream that affect my relationship with God ) Those of you that are familiar with my other blog know that I love to listen to music. I am very attached to music, and find myself humming along and even moving along to music sometimes when I hear it at the grocery store, mall, car, street corner, etc.
Years ago, I was driving my car and repeating the beginning mononlogue from Prince's song "Let's Go Crazy" by heart. These are the words;
We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that's a mighty long time
But I'm here 2 tell u
There's something else
A world of never ending happiness
U can always see the sun, day or night
So when u call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
U know the one - Dr Everything'll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
'Cuz in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life
You're on your own
I never realized what I was singing. I never thought about it. I just went along with it, saying the words because I like the beat of the music that follows. Maybe I even thought the words "In this life, you're on your own" were cool. But I realized that I don't actually believe that. I never did. A few minutes later, the song "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (I will NOT be providing you to the lyrics of THAT song..... I assume you know it.) was playing and I actually understood what I was singing for the first time! When I was an inexperienced teen ager, I thought the song was about being calm and stress free. As a woman who was already married about five years, I suddenly knew better!
I saw in my heart that I wasn't deliberate about the music that was going into my mind or coming out of my mouth. Does that mean that I don't think there is a place for music with sensual lyrics in the Christian life? No, not really. My issue was mainly that I didn't think about it at all. Perhaps the words and music are fine for singing and dancing to in my living room (but not my kitchen), while singing along at the grocery store or mall is totally inappropriate.
I made up my mind that year that I'd give up secular music for Lent. God was helping me out, in that a brand new Christian station started up the same week as Lent did, and even advertised itself as being commercial free for forty days. (No, I did not hear about it until after I'd made my mind up to give up secular music for Lent.)
Did it work out perfectly? No, not quite. I couldn't exactly give up grocery shopping, could I? Bob was helpful in going sometimes, but it really isn't the true spirit of Lent to use it to get out of a chore! I wasn't able to train my mind to not pay any attention to the music coming over the speakers. I kind of think that worked out okay, though. I was able to use it to focus on how perfect Christ's great sacrifice is, and that my small ones could never be perfect, but that His love is great enough to look upon them with love anyhow, even though He had been through so much for me.