The year was 1990.
FYI, I googled important events from 1990. George Bush was president. Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I was in my third year of college. Honestly, I remember little else. Even the top ten tunes and blockbuster movies have faded into the recesses of my memory. I had other things on my mind. I wanted to go home.
I usually hung out with people older that I was, so most of my friends had either graduated or left for personal reasons. I, never comfortable making new friends, was left alone in the angst of young adulthood, ten hours away from home with a roommate I feared was a female version of Norman Bates from Psycho. To top all of that off, my heart had been broken into a kazillion pieces. Michael Bolton crooned, “How am I supposed to live without you?” on repeat from my cassette player until some friends dragged me from my room and forced me to go horseback riding until I no longer needed Michael Bolton to sooth my soul. All this in one semester! So, at midterm, longing for familiarity and sanity, I moved in with my younger sister whose roommate had also gone home.
That, however, did little to ease the nagging feeling I needed and wanted to return home. Our character-building vehicle had finally become undrivable and my student loans began to accumulate despite my work-study job. Did you know, it is almost impossible for a part-time minimum wage earner to keep up with thousands of dollars in tuition per semester, room and board, and outrageously priced textbooks? Well, I know!
The atmosphere on campus had become toxic for me. Negative attitudes abounded in a religiously restrictive environment coupled with mismanagement and what some considered corruption at the highest levels of leadership. I began to feel imprisoned by a rigid dress code, the requirements of the students to attend filmed television shows so an audience could be shown on camera, and by what I considered gender inequality as the women on campus were given a curfew while the males had none.
Negativity breeds negativity.
Those whose vision has been focused far too long on the unfavorable may miss the favorable that exists alongside it. I had grown angry and uncomfortable, believing myself to be in a place I no longer belonged. Truth be told, I was tired of fighting a war within my heart to find a reason to stay. So, after spending over half my college career in Oklahoma, I, the girl who had proclaimed she would never move back home, made a firm and unwavering decision-I would return to Texas.
So, in May Daddy came to get my sister (who had decided to go home as well) and me. The stress of meeting expectations to “not be a quitter” melted away with that one decision. I didn’t see it as quitting, but as shifting gears and taking another turn on my journey. I’ve learned life rarely runs in a straight line. And that’s okay.
Music filled my soul, and Daddy’s truck, as we rolled out onto the highway, our belongings stuffed tightly inside the old white character-building Buick we towed behind us. Elton John celebrated the journey with us with “Crocodile Rock” followed by the Temptations singing “My Girl”, Marvin Gaye “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and Diana Ross “Stop in the Name of Love”.
All songs that screamed, “Sing along with me!”
So, we did…at the top of our lungs, hand movements included, drums on the steering wheel and dashboard, bass drum on the floor and unadulterated joy in our hearts.
Daddy’s truck may have been the vehicle that transported us from Tulsa to Lumberton, but it was the music that transported us through time and space, providing a source of commonality, unity and harmony. As we drove toward home, music in our soul, the bitter taste of what lay behind began to wash away in the moment.
Music does that. For me, it seems to bring everything into focus or helps shift my focus. The psalmist tells us to sing and make a joyful noise. Paul tells us to sing to one another in encouraging songs of praise. Why? Because music heals!
I bet you have a favorite song somewhere that got you through a tough place or provided comfort. Music can help heal our hearts and minds. Scientists tell us music can also help heal our bodies!
It took many more songs, several more years, and quite a few miles down the allegorical road of life for me to look back to see the good I brought with me from that time away from home. I learned, with time and wisdom, I had failed to appreciate what I had in the moment and how those years would impact my life for the better. My perspective had been off kilter. Oh, I made the right choice in coming home. I have never doubted that! But it was in the wrong attitude. Bit by bit music and spending time in the presence of God in worship began to shift my attitude. Singing songs of joy and deep words of praise as I postured my heart in worship shifted my perspective to the things God has called us to think on: things that are “true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” Philippians 4:8 NLT
And you know, many years later I went back to the campus I had left. What I saw were the things I missed-the good things, the admirable things, the honorable and lovely things. Today, these are the things standing most profoundly in my heart when I consider my time away from home.
The God of all hope, who can use whatever He chooses, used some classic rock tunes to begin the healing process within my heart. But it is time in HIS presence that planted my heart deeper into HIS. It is in the time of rejoicing and praise that shifts perspectives and brings our focus to the King of Kings.
So, I say to you, Sing! Shout for joy! Pound the steering wheel, stomp on the floorboard, shift gears if you need to, and take those turns in the journey. It makes it a bit more interesting! And, my friend, do it all with a song in your soul!
- Journal a time in your life that music got you through a tough time. What healing or comfort did it provide for you? If you’re like me I bet you have more than one.
- If you have found yourself in a place of negativity I encourage you to rejoice in the Lord. Praise Him in all things! Worship Him when you don’t feel like it. Feelings do not rule us. The King of Kings does, and He deserves all our worship.