An old friend of mine recently made the comment to me at a wedding reception that he was surprised and caught off guard that the newest mix cd I made for friends was steered in the direction it was. He isn't, and never expected me to be, a fan of "Christian music" of which many of the songs I chose were. It didn't surprise me that it surprised him. It was a surprise to myself. Not because I am not a Christian, because I am. But because it's a genre that I'm only recently exploring over the last two years. One of the slightly intoxicated comments he innocently made was that he has always felt that Christian music is an oxymoron.
I have been chuckling about this, in small doses, ever since.
It started that I simply didn't listen to any music with profanity in it once I had children. They were always with me in the car or anywhere, and if we weren't listening to the rock-and-roll version of the ABC song, or talk radio, then it was family friendly music, of which I had a descent collection of anyway, (I've never been 'mainstream' in music) just weeded out a few cds here and there that weren't appropriate for young, precious ears. As my young daughter has approached the tender age of 5, and is growing her range of friends, I found myself analyzing things deeper. Her friends in our homeschool group and in girl scouts range in age. She has best friends who are 4, and best friends that are 5, 6, 7, 8, and even 9. She spends quality time at length with some of these older girls from our hs group, and luckily because they aren't mainstream families, I don't have to worry about them influencing her in the same way older girls of mainstream would. (They play with Barbies and My-Little-Ponies together, not blaring Hannah Montana and trying on training bras!) As she grows through her childhood, her friends will pick up more influence of her, too. My husband and I have issues with the way society tries to steal the youth of little girls. Dressing them as if they were young Britney Spears wannabes, or entire lines of clothes that are aimed at creating fashionable miniature sex objects. Six-to-eight year olds are being sent to school even in our small town with skimpy skirts, "sexy" shirts and, yes, even knee-high black boots. I don't know why some moms feel pressured or agree to allowing their young daughters to be visually prostituted in this way. Is it just like anything else people give no thought to? Do they simply go with what they find on a mainstream rack at the store because the ads and their girls tell them "it's the style" and play on their need to conform and have their children fit in? At what expense? You aren't helping that child's self esteem by making them think clothing and conforming is the way to attain it. But it expands beyond clothing. The media uses every opportunity to market to young girls in this way. That includes television, movies... and music.
Knowing you want to combat our culture and actually doing it, are two different things. Many songs, even if I'm not a fan, have catchy beats and attract attention... but as one good friend humorously pointed out, I don't need my 4-year-old daughter asking me what Lady Gaga's disco stick is.
So it started me on the path to find "cool" music that also packed a meaning. Striving to live the character model I'd like the kids to follow started me down the road to Christian music. My kids are growing up and starting to slowly notice that the world has things to offer. Someday they'll be immersed even more in the consumer-driven world, and hopefully by then we will have instilled the values they need to fully be individuals and make their own decisions. I can't control everything that they see, hear or do. But it is my God-given job to shape it, and that means living and leading by example. I'm thankful for the change in perspective, because I've made the conscious choice that listening to music that reflects your values is not just a smart moral imperative when it comes to raising kids, but even a very cool oxymoron. Yes, it may be rhetorical, even though there is no inherent contradiction, but the properties of faith and music most certainly can occur together. In fact, the irony is, I find the contradiction to be on the contrary. Kids have enough idioms in the world, and the obvious is never "needless to say". Indeed, the trap of allowing things to go unsaid or grow in assumption when it comes to little ones is, at the very least, irresponsible. It matters more the older my children become. Not that we'll "exclusively" listen to just Christian music. But doing what's in the best interest of my children has continued to shape and inspire me into a better version of myself. As with so many other outwardly choices I've made in my life as a parent to avoid dreaded hypocrisy and to show through example what matters in life, I've embraced the journey of finding music that moves me body, mind and soul, and I've grown beyond the need to disregard such inspiration simply because it's considered "cool" and "clever" to only imply and read between the lines to find the depths of revelation.
I find much more grace and revelation in dancing in the kitchen with my kids to Jamie Grace's "Hold Me," than in Gwen Stefani's "Holla-back Girl."