The 30-Day Christian Music Challenge Changed My Life
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The 30-Day Christian Music Challenge Changed My Life

"Garbage in, garbage out?" Your music choices have a bigger impact than you think.

The 30-Day Christian Music Challenge Changed My Life

On Tues., Jan. 19, I was driving home from the dentist and trying to distract myself from the awful numbness in my mouth. After flipping and flipping through the radio stations, I settled on K-LOVE, the local station for contemporary Christian music.

I have a long history with Christian music, and mostly it’s been kind of like the way I treat healthy food or exercise or studying: I know it’s good for me, and I feel proud of myself when I set aside time for it, but I do that so rarely.

On this particular day, though, a message came on the radio — K-LOVE was encouraging listeners to join their 30-day challenge, which involved listening to only Christian music for 30 days. Because I’m a sucker for challenges (and because it was dangerously close to that new year, new me fever that always pops up in January), I immediately took the plunge, and I signed up for the challenge online the second I got home.

Now, I’m not totally out of touch. I know that K-LOVE, like all radio stations, is a business, and this 30-day challenge was mostly just a way to convince listeners to ditch all other stations and only listen to them for at least a month.

However, I really think that they are, as an organization, founded on ministry, and I admire that they work towards their mission without the alienation that too often comes with an evangelical organization.

I would say that throughout this month, I learned three big things: I listen to music constantly, a lot of my favorite songs don’t really have a deeper meaning, and music really does have the impact on my life that I always denied it could.

So, first, I didn’t realize until I did this challenge exactly how big of a role music plays in my life. I thought it was bad enough that I was a band nerd in high school and that I have a childhood notebook full of the lyrics to my favorite songs (were there no lyrics websites in the mid-2000s? I don’t even understand).

But music is a near-constant part of my life. I listen to music when I get up, when I shower, when I exercise, when I study, when I drive, when I’m trying to hype myself up, when I’m trying to de-stress and calm down, when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m mad — even when I’m walking through Target or eating at a restaurant. It’s everywhere.

And even when I am in a space with no music playing, nine times out of 10, there’s a song playing in my head (and more often than not, I’m singing it out loud). I noticed that during the first couple weeks of my music cleanse, I would still sing some pretty un-Christian songs to myself; at one point, I distinctly remember going through “Did It On Em” in its entirety about 18 times in the shower before realizing the mistake I had made. (Maybe I could make an exception just for that song. I feel like Jesus would understand?)

Now, though, I notice Christian songs getting stuck in my head, and it’s not hard to notice a difference in my attitude when “your world’s not falling apart; it’s falling into place; I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held” is what’s repeating over and over in my head, instead of “I am in misery; there ain’t nobody who can comfort me, oh yeah!”

Another thing with Christian music is the overwhelming fact that every song means something. Every song, every line tells you the same thing: God is there; you’re going to be OK; you are deeply loved and you have the potential to change the world. Most of the music I listened to before this challenge told me, if anything, that I don’t have enough money or time, that I should obsess over my failures, and that any happiness I might have right now is not going to last.

All this wouldn’t matter if music was just something that people listened to and then moved on. I always got so indignant when my youth pastor would tell us to listen to music with Christlike messages because I thought he was suggesting we couldn't form our own opinions without a song telling us what to think.

But it’s so much more than that. I have noticed myself having more positive thoughts throughout my day, doing more nice things for people for no reason, and even just having less stress related to school and my relationships with others. Everything has just become so much smoother in every aspect of life, and I don’t think it’s a stretch that that feeling has come from the constant reminder of God’s love throughout my day.

I don’t expect anyone to read this article and swiftly take up the challenge the way I did a month ago. If I can get a couple of people to pull up some TobyMac on Spotify out of guilt while they’re studying, that’s truly an honor. This challenge might not even be for you; maybe you prefer to keep your religion a professional, holy, sacred section of your life and keep your music separate; maybe you think contemporary Christian music is degrading to God; maybe you just prefer to worship God on your own terms; maybe you prefer to listen to music that lifts up your identity, your culture or your background (I would definitely admit that the field of Christian music is heavily WASP-ified, and I can see why many people might be turned away by that).

However, I strongly encourage everyone reading this to become more aware of the effect music has on all of our lives. Music really is everywhere, and it doesn’t just go in one ear and out the other. Everything we expose ourselves to will eventually find its way into our hearts, souls and minds. So I urge you to look critically at the things you take in, and make sure they are making you the best person you can be.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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