More, two

a little less than a year ago, i discerned that god was asking me to lay down my idolatry of music, which meant relinquishing control of music. with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, i obeyed. i have sold, gifted, and donated away my 20-year cd collection. i have spent a year generally fasting from music: i haven’t stepped into a record store, haven’t read pitchfork, haven’t trolled the blogs or followed the next big thing. i didn’t buy that bon iver ep. i have spent a year unlike any since i bought those first albums back in junior high.

on vacation this past month, i told my 5-year old in a confessional moment that sometimes i missed listening to music. “why don’t you listen to music?,” he asked. i answered, “because god showed me that i was doing it in a way that was unhealthy, and that i needed to stop.”

“well,” he replied, “why don’t you ask god how to listen to music in a healthy way? he can do miracles.”


so, i have carefully, tenatively, begun to listen again. i am not so blind, legalistic, or self-flagellating that i would discard such obviously prophetic wisdom. i am practicing moderation — there is a time for music and a natural limit to music. i am not pursuing the next big thing, or any big thing. i am not downloading albums that do not belong to me. i am praying for a sobriety in my approach — to remain healthy, as my son has said.

a major reason for my year-long fast had been to divest myself of the identity i had crafted for myself and so carefully controlled. i did so in faith that jesus would begin to provide a new identity for me: that he would name me, and that name would be more truly me than the name i was adopting for myself. i no longer would let music name me. well, its one of the signs that abe’s word for me might be true, that i’ve recently been feeling like jesus has been revealing an identity for me, one that feels both more alien and more true. i’m working on stepping into that identity. i think “listen[ing] to music in a healthy way” involves not letting it overcome or impinge on or in any way intrude into the identity jesus is making for me. can i do that?

to the extent i can do that, i will now listen again.

2 thoughts on “More, two”

  1. “out of the mouths of babes” your son is very wise in his young age. good for you…i remember when you started this & im glad it has benefited you in the end.

    btw…stay as far away from the summer mix series as you can get. its like crack & wouldn’t be beneficial at all.

    also…i ask you go buy the bon iver…you know…if you want to.

  2. Dude!!!

    I had exactly the same moment when I was 19. I had loads of spare money and so I went on a spending spree. I’d sometimes buy 2 or 3 tapes a week. I got up to about 300 albums, some of which were definitely not pleasing to God in their subject matter.

    Finally, I heard God prodding me to get rid of my music. So I picked out all of the stuff I never listened to anyway, and sold it. I felt pretty good, with zero sacrifice to my way of life.

    A few weeks later, I started feeling convicted again. So I picked out the stuff that I rarely listened to and sold it. Again, feeling pretty happy with myself.

    It went on like this for another month or two until I finally broke down and got rid of all but about 20 or so tapes that I felt I could live with. I took the balance into the local used record store and dropped it off at the counter. While they sorted through my stuff I took a look at the $1 table. Lo and behold there were about a dozen Christian cassettes all in a row. It wasn’t the greatest stuff, Russ Taff, The Imperials, The Allies, etc.

    The point is that God rewarded me for my obedience, and more importantly he gave me a replacement for the thing my heart desired because he knew I’d just go right back to my old stuff.

    Hope that helps. Music used to be such a huge part of my life…it still is, but it’s far less important to me now than it used to be.

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