This year I chose to participate in Lent. (You can read all about it here.) The goals I set for my 44-day observance were to be more positive (give up negativity) and add more wholesome music in my day (give up even subtle distractions from holiness).
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To accomplish my goal of positivity, I read The Science of Positivity by Loretta Graziano Bruening. I made myself be happy with the parking spot I got, no matter how far it was from the store’s front doors. I saw the endless messes, laundry, and meal-planning as signs of life rather than as miserable chores. Opportunities for negativity became challenges to see the positive. It was almost like a game. Could I spin my perspective of the situation to be positive rather than negative?
After 44 days of that challenge, I’m pleased to report that I do feel more positive. I’m still grateful for the way-in-the-back parking spots. I’m still happy to do laundry, clean up messes, and plan meals.
Do I feel like I’m tricking myself? No. I’ve simply replaced the habit of negativity with a stronger habit: positivity.
I typically get my music by car radio or from Pandora via my Alexa Echo Dot. When a song that had suggestive lyrics or even mild profanity came on the car’s radio – no matter how much I loved the song – I turned it off. As I listened to Pandora at home, I called out a “thumbs down” any time a song came on that didn’t meet my standards for “wholesome.”
I stopped listening to songs I loved singing along to, and at first I was a little frustrated. But then I recognized my thoughts were more consistently centered on the Savior and I had more desire to pray and read my scriptures. The trade-off was definitely worth it.
I’ve continued being very selective about what I call “wholesome” music and turning off anything that uses the Lord’s name in vain, any kind of profanity or vulgar language, and any suggestive themes. (Yes, that does mean a lot of the popular songs today are out.) I don’t listen to church music all day, but have added more classical music into my Pandora and car radio sessions.
A couple of weeks ago the nice folks over at Deseret Book offered to send me two CDs to check out. I gratefully accepted the invitation to give them a listen and share my thoughts with you all.
The first CD is a new release by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir called Mormon Tabernacle and Friends. The CD features 11 tracks by the Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square performing with guests such as Sting, Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Amy Grant, and Santino Fontana. My family’s favorite tracks were “Fragile” with Sting and Yo-Yo Ma, “The Prayer” with David Foster, and “Through Heaven’s Eyes” with Brian Stokes Mitchell. Amy Grant’s “Thy Word” is one of my favorite’s as it took me back to my childhood, listening to my mom’s Amy Grant’s cassette tapes. Overall, this CD provides beautiful, wholesome music by very talented individuals. Mormon Tabernacle and Friends will be released on May 12, 2017 and is available on DeseretBook.com and Amazon.com.
The second CD Deseret Book provided me was City of Enoch’s debut album Sweet Redeemer. I’d never heard of them, but was excited when I read that they were compared to Lady Antebellum. The trio’s voices blend mellifluously together as they sing contemporary Christian-style songs with an LDS slant. Uplifting and inspiring, Sweet Redeemer makes it easy to keep your heart centered on God’s mercy and grace. I actually prefer City of Enoch’s album over the Mormon Tabernacle and Friends album – Sweet Redeemer is easy to sing/hum along to and each song has a beautiful message. The album is available DeseretBook.com and Amazon.com.
What Lent Taught Me
I loved having a finish line that I knew millions of others were striving towards as well. I loved the feeling of worldwide and interfaith unity participating in Lent brought. On social media, I saw others reflecting on their Lenten goals and I cheered them on as I felt they were doing for me. It was a neat experience.
I’m happy that I’ve broken the cycle of negativity with my Lenten participation. I feel lighter and more free to hope and seek out the blessings in my life that were there all along.
If I’m being completely honest, sometimes I miss the songs I’ve cut out – but I still wouldn’t trade them for the increased peace and gospel desire I feel now.
We don’t need something like Lent to encourage us to change. That’s the beauty of the gospel – repentance is an on-going process that we’re invited to participate in daily. Step by step, we can become the people we want to be.