Recently I started listening to secular music. Now for many people this is a non-event, but for me it was huge. I’ve been listening to contemporary Christian music almost exclusively for more than 25 years! So this was a leap into the unknown for me. I heard a song on Youtube recently entitled Perfect by Ed Sheeran and it was so sweet and touching that I naturally wanted to listen to other music by this man. Now, not all of his music is as sweet but I discovered something about myself that surprised me. I liked this music and as I listened to the Ed Sheeran channel on Pandora I realized that there were many artists playing similar music and I liked it all! I also discovered that a lot of the Christian music I enjoy sounds very similar to secular music, with the exception of the words. But the music itself is very close.
Another thing I’ve noticed about myself recently is that I’m much more subdued when it comes to knowing how to handle people who request prayers for healing, strength, or anything difficult that they may be going through. As my faith continues to shift I don’t know how I truly feel about prayer anymore. I’ve always been a woman who believed in offering prayer to anyone who asked for it or I felt needed it. I prayed quite a bit for myself and others. As of late, my belief in the certainty of prayer has been taking a hit. I think we are programmed as Christians to reach out to God and try and convince God to intervene in people’s lives to avoid the inevitable tragedies that occur. We’re told to pray for healing, pray for finances, pray for wisdom and so on. We’re also told that God is with us 24/7 and knows each of us intimately and knows what’s going to happen before it happens. So it would stand to reason that if God is all-knowing, doesn’t God know of our pain, our financial needs, our illnesses and our lack of wisdom? It’s as if we’re pretty much begging God to change what’s going to happen. Now I know, because I’ve been told for many years, that apparently God wants us to reach out and seek God’s face and that although God knows all, this simple act is the magic action that changes the heart of God and hopefully gets a different outcome than the one that was ordained.
These are just some of the changes that have been happening in my life. Now truthfully, I think that these ideas have been lurking on the periphery for many years, just waiting for permission to form into coherent thoughts. I’ve always enjoyed many different kinds of music such as show tunes, classical and hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I just limited my exposure because I was told it would damage my relationship with God by allowing The World to influence my thoughts. I get it. I understand that what we listen to influences our lives so it makes sense that to keep us moving in a positive direction we would want to ensure that the things we listen to are positive and thought-provoking. I’m just discovering that there are positive and thought-provoking things to listen to that aren’t specifically Christian-based. I also get it that questioning my belief system is also healthy as it allows me to actually think for myself and come to conclusions that aren’t shoved into my head by others. Instead I can seek answers to my questions and question the answers without the benefit of someone else’s bias or opinion. Just me and Jesus working out the details.
Change is inevitable in all our lives. Some change is huge and requires much from us to succeed but some change is subtle and sneaks up on us over time. It could be a sudden realization that some food or clothing style is preferable to others or it could be realizing that our beliefs that we’ve carried since childhood just don’t fit anymore. I believe many people recognize these subtle attempts at change but ignore or resist it because the idea that something may not truly be as we always believed it to be is too much to handle. Our faith, for those who grew up in the church, is sacred and used as a tool with which to measure the world. It defines us and we’re told that to challenge or change that measuring stick will be the end of us and ruin our relationship with God. Fear holds us in check in an attempt to keep us from discovering that when we step outside the confines of these boxes we can begin to experience Jesus in a new and exciting way. We also realize that Jesus was never in the box anyway.