Every year since I was old enough to understand its meaning, I have observed the practice of lent. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s simply the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday when you choose to fast from something to honor Jesus’ sacrifice of death on the cross. The idea is to give up something that would really be difficult, so that you feel what it must have been like for Jesus to sacrifice himself. Over the years, I’ve given up biting my nails, French Fries, Dr. Pepper and Sweet Tea, eating fast food, etc. But this year I did something different; I gave up listening to music in the car. I knew it would be difficult, the reasons weren’t clear until I actually did it.
Its no secret that music is a huge part of who I am, and it’s been that way for years. I used to take every opportunity to either sing or listen to music. And those who know me well, know I love to drive. What may not be so well known is the fact that the car has kind of become my happy place. I’ve been known to take impromptu trips, just to escape. So as you can imagine, having to separate my two favorite things was quite the challenge.
Since the car is the place where I feel totally free, it is often the place I do the majority of my thinking. Many of my blog ideas and life revelations begin in the car. So at first, being on a silent car ride was cool; there were hardly any interruptions to my thought process. It was all good until I got upset one day. See, music is usually one of the things that shifts my attitude when it’s in the wrong place, but without music that responsibility was totally mine. I struggled to pull it together because my chain of thoughts sent me on a downward spiral. One day, for example, I drove to Jacksonville in complete silence other than a phone call. By the time I got to Jacksonville, I was exhausted from JUST THINKING. I replayed conversations over in my mind, and even went over hypothetical scenarios, and what I planned to say the next time I saw so-and-so. The sad part is, I can’t even say that I took steps toward trying to bring my mind to a place of peace. It took me a while to fill that silence with prayer and positive vibes. I think I spent the first part of lent just observing the condition of my mind. No matter how much scripture I knew about the mind and one’s thoughts, I didn’t apply them in those moments. I thought it strange that at home, I know to pray, but in the car, it wasn’t a natural reflex for me during a mental crisis. Then I realized how dependent I had become upon music in times prior.
Looking back over those 40 days, I should have documented my progress. But I know for sure that it got better. At some point, instead of just thinking, I decided to pray during the drive. I actually let some of those thoughts out of my mind and told them to God. I followed up by expressing my desired outcome. I didn’t want my anger to become bitterness because it was unexpressed. I asked God to help me identify my true feelings so that I could genuinely express myself when the time presented itself. Finally, I was able to ride with peace of mind and think about better things.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:6-8
My mind is pretty powerful and if I’m not careful, it will try to rule me. Although I’m not done working, I know for sure that I’ve faced the truth, which is that when I’m upset my thoughts have gotten pretty negative, and I can quickly dig myself into a ditch. I was reminded though, that God desires for me to depend on HIM and nothing else to heal me, guide me and bring me to a positive resolve in conflict.
I’m glad I chose to separate my two loves so that I could see what was hiding behind the music. It was me.