“Ugh! Enough of this song!” I exclaimed to Michelle, who was getting ready at the same counter and mirror space.
“I was just thinking that same thing!” she returned. “I want it to hurry up and stop before it gets stuck in my brain.”
She told me that her husband — before he was her husband — challenged her to listen to just Christian music for a month.
“It’s not as if I were listening to bad music,” she interjected in her warm Southern accent. “I liked soft rock, that kind of thing. But I like Christian music too and thought, ‘Why not?’ ”
She “survived” the month just fine, but when the month was up, she reverted back to her old radio station on her way to work, singing with the music — enough to get the lyrics of one particular song stuck in her head. Shortly after arriving at work, she found herself in a bad mood — and then thought through the lyrics she was repeating in her head. The song wasn’t uplifting, and Michelle attributed the mood change to what she had been hearing.
It was enough to make her return to her Christian music diet.
I admit I pretty much wrote off the Christian radio station at Thanksgiving, when it goes to 24-7 Christmas music. Despite all the various singers and Christmas songs available, I always seemed to hear the same ones over and over and over. This year, I simply changed the station and began listening to talk radio to and from work, occasionally remembering to turn off the outside world long enough to pray.
The conversation about music prompted me to share my experiences at my new job at a public university. One — which drew laughter — was my inclination to lead a group in prayer at the start of meetings I was leading. It had become such a habit teaching at a Christ-centered school to begin each class and begin every meeting (and sometimes conversation) with prayer. Now I can pray only silently as I begin a meeting.
But I also had noticed I had cuss words in mind these days — not really slipping out over my lips, but close. I knew it was because my environs — though for the most part professional — included climbing stairs daily with other women, one in particular who punctuates her language with f-bombs and the like.
Garbage in, garbage out — even when the garbage coming in isn’t of my own choosing. Garbage in, garbage out is, in general, a computer term indicating that if you enter poor data or code into a system, you are going to get poor date or code out. (Webopedia’s definition is at right.) It is similarly true for our bodies — that old adage “you are what you eat.” You eat junk, you look like junk. (I never quite got the concept when I was in grade school reading signs in the cafeteria featuring vegetables saying “You are what you eat.” Why would I want to be a head of lettuce?) And it is similar for our souls. If “out of the heart the mouth speaks,” then I want to make sure what I’m putting into my heart and mind is something worthy of exporting.
I can’t choose my stair-climbing colleagues; they are few and far between and the stairs are a step in the right direction; my lower back tells me so. But I can sway the topics of conversation away from those f-bombs and other GIGO types of challenges. And I can choose my radio station and other forms of entertainment. I decided to take Michelle’s unspoken challenge: Christian music, books, sermons via radio and download rather than the non-uplifting fare I’d been “educating” myself with these past months. A Christian music and other media diet. My own remediation to avoid GIGO.
Maybe I can make a difference in the level of GI — garbage in — and, I hope, offer something other than GO — garbage out — and thereby make a difference in others.
As Michelle made for me.