Picture Rocky Balboa running up those stairs in Philly, a marching band on the 4th of July, or a lone bagpiper at a funeral. Each of those images came with a soundtrack, right? Music affects us in powerful ways. Do you tap your toes, bop your head, cry, smile, or even feel a little frisky when you hear certain songs? These are all music effects. Music has the potential to make us better because it has the potential to connect us to God. Turn on your favorite song, and keep reading.
Here are 5 ways music makes us better.
- Expression: Have you ever had a weird day where you were edgy, nervous, or even apathetic for reasons you’re not even sure of? Usually it’s because there’s something emotional you’re avoiding or unable to deal with. It’s happened to me. My mother was only 46 years old when she died from cancer. I was devastated. There were stages of grief when I walked through paralyzing numbness—needing to cry, but unable to. I found relief only when I played certain songs. I could cry better. I could let out my sadness better. I could feel God’s loving comfort better. I could pray better. Weird, right? That’s the music effect. Music gives your brain what you need to think and feel at the same time. Music helped me heal because music helped me let out what was destroying me inside.Take a listen to The Verses Project. If there’s been a human emotion dying to be expressed, the lyricists of the Bible have probably already written it out for you. This project takes psalms from the Bible and sets them to music again so you can hear them more closely to they way they were intended to be heard. Don’t be afraid to express all your feelings to God. David, the chief singer-songwriter of the Bible, certainly wasn’t!
- Motion: When you walk into Disney World, you won’t hear “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” floating through the air even though it would make a magical entrance to the happiest place on earth. Instead, you’ll hear old-timey marches and vaudevillian dance tunes. Why? Because Disney execs have learned when their entrance music is slow, people linger a bit too long and clog the path into the parks. Their entrance music choice has more to do with your movement than your mood! Need to exercise? Make an upbeat playlist and see if that doesn’t improve your efforts. Had a frenzied day? Put Debussy’s Clair de Lune on repeat and watch yourself slow down. (You’re welcome.) Stuck on the couch in a lie that you’re alone and unimportant? Listen to this song we play for students at Life.Church. Throw that funk out and dance in the love that surrounds you! It’s an important, faith-building, spirit-lifting, age-old tradition to dance with joy for God. Music is one of the best ways to get your body moving in His presence!
- Unification: Fight songs, national anthems, product jingles, theme songs. What do they have in common? They all trigger unified thoughts in everyone who hears them. Fight songs make you want to root for “Big Blue.” National anthems point out the best and most heroic traits of your country. Singing together is an incredibly unifying experience. God loves it when His people gather and sing to Him. He wants us to be one. Let this be the anthem of the Church today: We stand united in the wonder of Your love!
- Retention: One of the best ways to commit anything to memory is to set it to music. There are countless studies of people even in late-stage Alzheimer’s who can’t recognize their own children but still remember and sing songs they learned in their youth. Did you go to church when you were a little kid? If yes, you might still remember words to a simple song, Jesus Loves Me, This I Know whether or not you feel close to Him now. All the curriculum for our littlest LifeKids includes a teaching song. Why? If we can use music to teach our little ones that God loves them, we know they’re set to remember God’s love for the rest of their lives. What Scripture are you trying to memorize? Put it to music. Hijack a simple melody, and swap out the lyrics for your favorite Bible verses. It might sound crazy, but boy will you remember those life-giving words when you need them!
- Restoration: Maybe music’s healing and restorative uses are its best purposes. God uses music to soften, untie, soothe, and restore the even the most broken places in us. In the Bible, we see David act as the first music therapist when he plays his harp to soothe King Saul’s tormented episodes. Did you know there are plenty of cases (feel free to Google it) where people with debilitating Parkinson’s can only move fluidly when they’re listening to certain music? It’s amazing. But if music can restore us, can it also wound us? Be careful what you listen to! If your music tends to get you feeling angry, lustful, paranoid, or depressed, then it’s time to find a new beat. If you need healing, let godly music help you find your way back to Him.
Music is more than just sound, isn’t it? It’s movement, healing, connection, memory. It affects us in ways we might never fully comprehend. Maybe your favorite song has something more to say. What an amazing gift God has given us through music!