I have a jukebox that plays in my head. Like constantly. I know this sounds like a lot of fun, but really this is an affliction of sorts.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can come in handy. Say if I am stuck somewhere a little less entertaining than I would like, I can just turn my attention to the songs in my head and go to a happy place. This is convenient in long meetings, dentist waiting rooms, or in conversations where I need to smile and look like I want to be there but maybe really don’t.
However, sometimes that little jukebox can be extremely distracting. For one, it doesn’t have what I would call “the gift of discernment” and it has the nasty habit of adding a song (any song) to its playlist strictly because it exists and I have had the misfortune of hearing it. No actual respectability is required.
For another thing, my jukebox doesn’t limit itself to any particular genre or style. Heck, it doesn’t even limit itself to language or culture (cue “Ami-Ami,” a Japanese lullaby that I still remember from childhood.) You would not believe some of the songs that are stuck in there. My family calls me “Lyrical Rain Man.”
But the biggest issue is the timing of it all. Someone can utter one tiny word that links to a lyric stuck in my brain and WHAM – cue the wrong song at the wrong time immediately. This can be in issue if you are trying to concentrate on something, appear credible to someone, or are just generally not wanting to be committed to a loony bin. And of course, like any affliction or tic or coping mechanism, it is that much worse in stressful situations or when I am really tired.
Sometimes the timing is SO BAD that I begin to believe that a little evil elf lives in my brain and jacks with my jukebox just to rib me. I picture him in there grinning like The Grinch, just trying to see if he can make me laugh or dance inappropriately in the middle of a meeting. It is a little bit like what I would imagine having Tourette’s Syndrome is like, although at least I just get to have this on the inside. Let me give you an example.
Once upon a time, in what I am sure was a total lapse of judgement, a previous pastor asked me to serve on a church committee- my very first church committee. Such a simple request for so many, but for me, saying yes to this was like saying yes to electrocution. I approached this first meeting with the same dread that one has for.. say getting a set of rabies shots. I was still fairly new to the church scene and vastly inexperienced in all things churchy. I felt like they barely let me IN church, so surely there was a mistake in my pastor appointing me to a committee. Plus, I was so completely intimidated by the other seasoned and wise members I would be sitting with, and didn’t know the first thing about what to expect. What does one wear to churchy meetings? What does one say? Should I memorize scripture ahead of time? Maybe wear a cardigan? Do I even own a cardigan? But being the gutsy broad I am, I steeled myself for this task and drove up to the first meeting all sweaty palmed and nervous.
It started off innocently enough. Once I got my heart rate down enough to hear the folks around me, I heard them laughing and joking and just generally visiting before the meeting started. They greeted me in a friendly fashion and no one looked stunned or offended I was there. But then it was time to start and our pastor began to speak and we were going to be voting on something and I got a little nervous again. And as I have mentioned, nerves are an issue. Nerves put the jukebox into some sort of manic turbo mode and it gets a little more tacky and inappropriate with all the adrenaline.
And to my horror, my then-pastor made a perfectly innocent comment about a perfectly innocent drive-thru burger joint. And my perfectly manic jukebox caught and held it. And then there it was; “The Humpty Dance” began to play.
If you are not familiar with “The Humpty Dance,” rest assured, you haven’t missed much. It is just a really goofy rap song from the early 90’s wherein the lyrical genius of a group called Digital Underground graced us with the lyric of “I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom.” It’s not a completely filthy song, but it most assuredly has no place in a Methodist church committee. And it is especially unwelcome in the head of someone who is already petrified of being found out as a non-churchy, non-committee serving freak.
Of course, as these things go, the more I tried to stop it, the louder it got in my head. I was certain that any second, my ears would turn into speakers and everyone would hear “Do the humpty-hump, uh, do the humpty hump” blaring in my brain. I would be excommunicated for sure. Lucky for me, I am excellent at faking my way through really uncomfortable things. I pasted on what I am sure was my very best “Oh how interesting, I am terribly concerned about this issue” face and just let it ride out. What else could I do?
But it got me to thinking – I needed some ammunition. While I can’t ever seem to mute the jukebox in such situations, I can sometimes change the track. And I have really been concentrating on putting good stuff in my mind since it so belligerently stays there forever. So I have been listening to a lot of good Christian music over the last few years so that when these situations arise again, I am ready. It has taken practice, but I am proud to say that I have successfully fast forwarded through songs like “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Ri-hight” (so annoying when that one gets stuck) straight to “God is Power, God is Right.” And perhaps my proudest accomplishment was the time I converted “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” (which got stuck on repeat for nearly 3 weeks) to “I am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made,” which is much more helpful and edifying.
But possibly the easiest thing to do, I have found, is just find the “God” part in every song and then concentrate on that. This can be done in most songs, really. At the very least, even in the worst of songs, I can think to myself, “this was their story right before they found Jesus.” And as I have been adding more Jesus-like songs to my library to help combat the nonsense in my head, it has occurred to me that this might be a more universal concept than I originally thought. I mean, it’s pretty simple right ? The more we think about God, the better we know Him, the closer we are to Him, the more we are like Him (cue “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”)
It’s not that complicated. We all know this; what you put in, you get out. We reap what we sow, right? So if I sow vats of queso and P-Diddy and Real Housewives of Orange County, I get the same quality back. But when I sow scripture and quiet time and service, I get life, more abundantly. Ahhhh! Wouldn’t it be great to live life that way, every day?
And yet I don’t. And I am gonna go out on a limb here and say neither do you or you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. Those got-it-all-together-people take a look at my site and read 2 lines and go find something a little less honest and messy to read about. But you i-so-wanna-get-it-together-because-i-am-such-a-mess-people GET IT. You’re nodding your head and have maybe even snorted laughing a time or two reading this. Maybe you even have “If Loving You is Wrong“ stubbornly stuck in your head right now. For that, I am sorry.
I don’t know about you, but the enemy picks on me. He tells me nasty (sometimes sadly true) things about me and uses them to try to convince me that God doesn’t love you, Kenny doesn’t love you, nobody loves you. And I used to fall for that. But the more I know the truth, the word, the light, the more I know better. I had to go straight Bible-Thumper on this and memorize some scripture – put some TRUTH in there – so that when the noise of the world, the songs I’ve heard, the stories I’ve lived, and the lies I’ve believed get a little too loud, I can fight back.
There’s no such thing as too much of God’s truth in our lives. So let’s join forces on this. Sometime this week, let’s all go find one verse of scripture that directly debates a lie the devil tells us. Let’s crack open our Bibles and look around (we can cheat and use the concordance – there’s no shame in that) and find a verse where God tells us the truth about that thing, that weakness. And then post our verses for all to see here.
Because, really, we are all in this together. And when God speaks truth into our hearts, we should share that with others that we think might benefit from it too. It just makes us all stronger. So let’s band together and learn some truth because “we’re not gonna take it. NO!- we ain’t gonna take it. We’re not gonna take it anymore…”