Identity, Issue 46, Love, Music

What Music Taught Me About Being A Girl

What Music Taught Me About Being A Girl

If music were your teacher, what would it be teaching you?
BENITA LIM reveals why discernment matters when listening to music.

Growing up, my favourite girl group was the Spice Girls. They defied conventional pop group stereotypes of being just cute, pretty, or sexy (or all of
the above), and were singers with unique ‘personalities’. Their songs were catchy and fun, and often celebrated ‘girl power’.

As pop stars heavily marketed by one of the biggest global music labels, they
became heroines of girls both young and old in many parts of the world.

THE MUSIC EFFECT

Studies have shown that music influences our emotions, and lyrics, when we connect with them, have the ability to impact our well-being. What makes things more complex is that music today is more than what we listen to. It has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry and a multi-sensory experience. Artistes do not only write and perform music; they also try to create viral music videos, appear on different visual platforms such as TV programmes, become brand ambassadors, and create social media profiles so as to connect with their fans on a more ‘personal’ level.

WHAT DOES THE MUSIC THAT YOU HEAR, SEE, AND SCROLL THROUGH TELL YOU?

WHAT A GIRL WANTS

It seems that popular music often teaches us that what a girl really wants is sex and intimacy. A survey of U.S. top-40 hits between 1960 and 2010 showed that
67.3 percent of the lyrics referenced relationships and love, and 29.9 percent
referenced sex and sexual desire! I wouldn’t be surprised if those percentages have gone up even further in the past ten years— songs about sex in particular have only gotten more explicit.

I must admit that I love a good love song. I cannot deny that I, too, desire to hear the guy that I am attracted to one day whisper things like, “You are the only one I’ll ever love,” and “You want me like I want you tonight, baby” (+50 points if he sings it while playing the piano or guitar!). And yet, there have been times when consistently listening to music like that has led me to feelings of intense sadness and even anger at what I seem to be missing out on.

MUSIC IS INDEED A POWERFUL GIFT FROM GOD TO ALL HUMANKIND.

WHAT A GIRL NEEDS

The second thing I’ve observed in today’s music scene is an emphasis on girl power. What does a girl need? Apparently, not men! Let me be clear: music that celebrates empowerment of girls is important. In an analysis of Billboard’s
top 600 songs from 2012 to 2017, out of 1,239 performing artists, only 22.4 percent were women. Seeing the success of female performers and listening to lyrics that highlight the capabilities of girls surely gives us inspiration and encouragement.

It connects with us on many levels and can even help us with our well-being. However, as we have seen, it also teaches and communicates different messages about our needs and wants as girls which may not be fully aligned with what God desires for us. As you enjoy this gift, may you stay attuned to the Spirit’s wisdom for discernment as to what you listen to, see, and scroll through regarding all things music!

She urged me to recognise that I had been carrying a crushing weight of expectations and achievements. Underlying this was pride in my heart, consumed by the pressure to ‘have my life together’ when I had placed my identity in what others thought of me, and not in the One I belong to. Often, our daily preoccupations and emotions suggest who we belong to — a little praise and success lifts us, while a little criticism and failure makes us dispirited. Henri Nouwen puts it this way in The Return of the Prodigal Son: “All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over … shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.”

I sought time with the Lord and asked for grace that I would be open and tender to His voice as He revealed the offensive ways in me and led me in His ways. In the secret place, I was deeply met with the revelation that there is no striving or performance in His love. With this encountered truth, I desired to turn from my ways of self-sufficiency and pride and to be set free from the need to prove myself with this constant striving and achieving. By my own strength I had tried to carry the weight of my expectations and the pressures of succeeding; but God knows our frame, and He doesn’t ask us to be more than who He has created and called us to be.

There are some weights not for us to carry and some that we are to let go of. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (ESV). Run the race that is set before us — not the rat race with its concomitant pressures and expectations, but the race in light of what God has called and redeemed us for.

As the striving and stress began to be replaced with such freedom and light, I found starting the day or study time with prayer helped to anchor me in the Lord. With God’s leading, I began to experience anew the joy of studying, of working heartily unto God and not others, and could fully enjoy the times meant for rest. My Jetpack Kal days are now behind me, and before me is a lifetime’s journey of placing my identity in Him and grasping this timeless truth: it is God who defines me, and nothing and no one else.

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