Experts in child development claim that what we experience with our senses during our formative years, gets tucked away in the miraculously complex organ called the brain and stored even though not always readily available in our short term memory. Like a safe deposit box, your “valuable” memories are protected but not accessed until they are unlocked. Anyone who doubts this need only visit a nursing home where a patient with dementia who can’t remember what he had for lunch 10 minutes ago can hear a loud banging noise and proceed to tell you in detail about where he was when he heard the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed in 1941.
The same thing can happen to me with music. I don’t typically think about all of those sappy, old 70’s and 80’s “love songs” and I have only recently added a select short list of the most sanitized favorites to my itunes playlist. Prior to that, my life disconnected from them for more than 25 years. But during the impressionable season of adolescence, I went to sleep each night hugging my pillow with my clock radio set to sleep mode lulling me into dreamland.
Fast forward to today. I’m 45 and shopping to replace a worn out spatula in the kitchen utilities department. I hear background tunes being piped through the store and suddenly I am 15 again. Too bad I’m not a contestant on “Name that Tune” at that very instant. I could earn a million bucks. I don’t even need to hear the words before I’m singing along in my mind the music that left indelible ink splotched in the crevices of my long term memory.
It’s like being on autopilot.
♪♬♪♬…..Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places. Lookin’ for love in too many faces. Searchin’ their eyes, lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreamin’ of…..Hopin’ to find a friend and lover. I’ll bless the day I discover another heart lookin’ for love….. (Johnny Lee, 1980)
Because of all the lies about love and distortions about relationships that I internalized from song lyrics, I became a woman on a mission resolved to be deliberate about minimizing my daughters consumption of pop culture’s erroneous messages about love and replacing it with God’s truth. For us, that resulted in limiting TV viewing and curtailing secular pop music. Call me weird–even extreme. Maybe. But all moms have convictions–things they want to be different for their children- and this was one of mine.
So, Angela donned her first choir robe at the tender age of 8, the other girls even younger. Week after week, year after year they sing the Bible’s words and theology of God’s character put to music. When they hear scripture, they begin singing it in their minds. When they read God’s story unfolding, they align it with the truths of faithfulness, love, goodness and mercy that hymns and anthems so articulately describe.
Robyn was 4 when she first wore her blue cubbies vest to Awana club. She couldn’t read but memorized a new Bible verse every week with some help from mom putting words to music. Learning verses earned patches to adorn her vest with and a ribbon when her book was completed. That was 7 years ago. Since then, she’s memorized 100’s of verses and competed with other children to see who could flawlessly speak God’s word from memory. The challenge has been thrilling and exhilarating. It’s a game when I say a reference and she quotes or sings the verse.
When my girls are 30 and 40 and maybe even 70 and 80, it will only take a few words of scripture reading, or maybe just a reference and they will be singing and speaking God’s truth accurately in their minds. Truth replacing lies. Love instead of lust. Wholeness contrasted to heartbreak.
Starla was promoted from carol choir to chapel choir today. Her robe with a cream smock is now history.
Lily just graduated from children’s choirs. Robed in crimson she sang her finale:
♪♬♪♬ Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is injury thy pardon.
Lord, where there is doubt, let there be faith. Where there’s despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let there be light. Where there is sadness let there be joy.
O divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console. To be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love. For it is in giving that we are born into eternal life.
Lord make me an instrument of thy peace.
So, if you’re “lookin’ for love”, look no further for a message to believe in than that. As the song ends, a life that embraces that model of love also concludes with
(I wrote this post 2 years ago. We celebrated the conclusion of our 12th year in of choir today. Gratitude spilled past my tear ducts and onto my cheeks. Thank you, God, for PCPC, for our choir community, for our dearly loved director and friend, Lynda.)