Uplifting music and media choices can change your life.
Let me tell you why.
My very first time entering the temple I discovered an unsettling truth: when things got quiet around me, my mind tended to wander.
And when my mind wandered, it would wander to the less savory parts of my mind… the one where I hid all the stuff I’d seen on TV, or heard in a song, or read in a book or magazine.
It was disappointing, to say the least.
Here I was in the most holy place on earth, and I was being bombarded by the unholiest thoughts my mind contained.
Each time I went to the temple after that I would try to keep my mind as focused on the ordinances as possible so that the PG-13 section of my mind wouldn’t have a chance to take over.
But it didn’t work.
Without fail there would be a moment when my mind would slip, and words, images, and specific movie scenes would cross my mind.
It seemed the harder I tried, the worse it became.
One of the Hardest Decisions I’ve Made
I knew I had a decision to make.
I could either keep fighting an uphill battle, or I could level the playing field.
I decided to level the playing field by doing something absolutely, completely, insanely crazy.
I cut out the crud.
All of it.
Any profanity in a song I owned? I threw it out.
Movies with too much violence or scenes and words I’d usually just skip over? I threw them out.
I threw away hundreds of dollars worth of entertainment that I had previously thought was totally necessary to my happiness.
And it. was. brutal.
I discovered that I had very few songs to listen to and even fewer TV shows or movies I could watch.
In trying NOT to offend the Spirit anymore, I discovered that there are very few people in Hollywood with the same goal.
It got bad enough that I would listen to the Kidz Bop version of songs. Slightly embarrassing to be bumping the Kidz Bop as you drive around in your car as a grown adult.
But it was worth it, and I want to tell you why.
The Power of Uplifting Music
First, I want to clarify that while I just talked about changing the things I read in books and watched on TV, today I want to only focus on music.
Because music is POWERFUL!
At a Memorial Day family party I was playing corn hole for the very first time ever. And you guys it is NOT as easy as it looks.
I was doing a terrible, terrible job.
My turn came up and I knew I just had to make a point. So I called out, “I need ‘Eye of the Tiger’ right now!!!” My cousin complied and the air started pumping with motivational music.
And guess what- I actually started scoring points!!
When Has Music Moved You?
Have you ever felt pumped up by music?
Maybe it was at a sports game, or maybe you’re even a dancer and have felt the power of music to move you, or maybe you play special music before you take a difficult test?
Music has the power to move us.
And since it has the power to move us, that means in has the power to move us in different directions.
Right now I want you to think of songs that make you feel the following emotions:
- Happy– what is a song that just brightens your day
- Sad– a song that makes you want to cry
- Annoyed– a song that makes you grit your teeth because you can’t wait for it to be over
- Inspired – a song that makes you want to be more than you currently are
The Negative Side of Music
Now if music can make us feel happy, sad, annoyed, and inspired it also has the possibility to make us feel other things: spiritually weak, emotionally or spiritually numb, angry, victimized, and so much more.
I’m not going to include examples for you, but I’m guessing you can imagine the type of music (the sounds, the lyrics, and the intensity) that I’m talking about.
Now I’m going to say something that you might not agree with, but that I believe is 100% true. There is a line that divides music: there is music that invites the Spirit, and there is music that drives it away- and there is NO middle ground.
You might be thinking that’s crazy- that there are fun, clean songs that aren’t spiritual- so they’re not inviting the spirit or driving it away.
No, Uplifting Music Doesn’t Have to Be About Jesus to Invite the Spirit
But here’s the thing: according to Galatians 5 the spirit is manifested in really simple ways like love, peace, happiness, and joy. When a song makes you feel those things, it is the spirit acting in you!
A song doesn’t have to be about Jesus to invite the Spirit- but it does have to invite GOODNESS into your life.
And keeping the Spirit with you ALWAYS is a huge deal. Because you never know when you’re going to need the Spirit- when a prompting will be needed, when direction will be needed, or when comfort will be needed.
And here is a hard fact I learned:
The Spirit needs an open invitation into your heart and mind; and if you’re kicking Him out repeatedly that’s a sign to Him that He’s not really wanted.
A Simple Trick to Identifying Crud
So what are you supposed to do?
How do you know where to draw the line in your media choices?
I’ve found a simple test is a great indicator of whether something belongs in my head or not.
Because this is what I realized. When I have guests over in my home, if they begin to use the Lord’s name in vain, or start swearing like a sailor, I’ll say something. I’ll politely let them know that those kinds of words are offensive to me. And if they don’t respect that, I don’t invite them into my home again.
And yet, on a daily basis I was inviting complete strangers into my home on the TV, in my earbuds, or in a book and letting them say and do whatever the heck they want because it was “just a show” or “just a song.”
Since that realization I have used that as my benchmark:
Now you might wonder about war movies or historical dramas with violence or mature themes- obviously you wouldn’t do those things in your home. But what if they’re educational, or have a great message, or are otherwise clean?
Those are great questions- I honestly take those situations on a case by case basis, but for the most part if I have to ask myself, “Is it worth losing the Spirit?,” I know my answer.
How You Can Add in the Good (Including an Uplifting Music Playlist!)
Now here is the flipping fantastic news in all of this. Once you get rid of the crud in your life you have room for SO much goodness!!
When you get rid of books and movies and songs that bring your spirit down, you begin to find that there are secret pockets of goodness all over the place.
One of our own Ruby Girl contributors recently shared her favorite “Quarantine Playlist.”
Want to watch a popular new movie without all the crud? There are filters for that! My family watches Home Alone every year with filters and we get all the humor without the language!
Want to read a fantastic book that won’t weigh your spirit down? There are websites that rate books just like movies! And I’m guessing you’ll find some new favorites you wouldn’t have considered before!
What about music?
We know it’s powerful, and we know it can pump us up- but if we’re cutting out the crud, what does that leave?
A whole lot of awesomeness!! In fact I’ve even made a playlist of my favorite uplifting songs that are 100% clean. You can grab it here!
The Blessings Will Come
When you start listening to good music you’ll find something pretty awesome happening.
You’ll feel closer to the Spirit.
You’ll feel closer to Jesus.
And when you feel closer to them, you start to feel like you can take on the world.
When you remove the crud and add in so much good, you begin to see yourself for who you really are- and that is an unstoppable force for good!
So join me in the #cutthecrud challenge and see how ridiculously blessed your life will be by the power of uplifting music and media!
You can start by grabbing our free Spotify playlist filled with uplifting music for LDS teens. Get it at www.rubygirl.org/upliftingmusic and share this article with your friends!!