I pushed open the heavy door from the girl’s locker room and slid my back against the wall to sit on the floor. I was in high school and had just finished a tough cross country practice. I riffled through my mesh backpack, looking for a sticky honey bun I’d packed when a friend came through the locker room door.
“I’ve got it,” she said, plopping next to me and unzipping her bag.
I gave her $17 and she slipped me what I’d been waiting for: the latest Eminem CD, the explicit version.
My parents wouldn’t let me buy Eminem CDs, and so I had friends with “cooler” parents buy them for me, and I’d pay them in crumpled bills in the hallways. Oh there could have been worse things we were exchanging, but whatever the case, this all posed one very big problem: I changed.
I already had what my mom called a “smart mouth” back then. I wanted to get the last word in and always wanted to win the fight, but my choice of music made it worse. I started cursing all the time and started arguing with my friends. I was combative and angry all the time. I rolled my eyes and talked back. I didn’t feel good.
Maybe Eminem spoke to my high school soul. Maybe it made me think I was cooler than the skinny girl I really was, but the truth is I started sinking deeper.
“Who are you even?” my friend asked me one day at lunch.
I was staring at her over a peanut butter sandwich and wondering why I was so mad, so I took all my Eminem CDs and snapped them each into two pieces. The plastic popped in my hand and fell into the trash. I haven’t listened to an entire Eminem song since. If I hear his snappy voice on the radio or while I’m flipping channels, I don’t stop to listen because Eminem was a gateway drug for me, and it made me angry and a liar and not the person I was meant to be.
Now here’s the important part. This post isn’t about giving up “bad music.” I’m not anti-rap or explicit CDs. I don’t just listen to wholesome Christian pop. I’m not asking you to give up “bad” things because “it’s the right thing to do.” This is about figuring out the things that make you worse, the things that drug you into believing you’re something you’re not.
Maybe it’s the drink that used to be a nightcap and has turned into an addiction. Maybe it’s the relationships that have turned into a need for you to feel whole. Maybe it’s the gym or the calorie count on a box of cereal that has become an obsession about your body.
Music. A drink now and then. Relationships. Working out. None of those things are “bad,” but when a good thing turns destructive, it’s time to give it up. When it’s changing you for the worse, it’s time to let it go.
There are thousands of things in this world that tempt us into changing, but don’t buy into the drug. I was a skinny girl with ratty T-shirts and jeans, who spent most of my free time reading and writing short stories in a purple notebook. And that should have been enough, but I let some three and half minute songs tell me that I needed to be edgier and cooler.
Temptations tell the sweetest lies, and they’ll change you. That’s the brutal part. They’ll break you and snap you and tear at you until you’re not the same.
You are enough right now, and you are loved by a God that doesn’t want you to hide behind things that cut you down. This isn’t a call to become holier or more “Christian” by giving up something. This is a call to get rid of the things that are killing you.
Because I will never forget that awful crushing feeling in my gut when I realized I’d changed, and today, I’m not going back.
Cover Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons