Friday, November 18, 2011

Guarding Our Senses

      We all know how powerful our senses are.  Smelling a certain smell or hearing a song can instantly transport our minds to another place and another time.  A few months ago, as I stood with my kids in the face painting line of a children’s tent, I heard the lyrics, “It’s a quarter after one, I’m a little drunk, and I need you now” sung on the karaoke machine.  I turned around to see several middle school girls having a great time being stars of the microphone.   I felt sick to my stomach.   I looked around.  Was I the only person in the tent who found it very disturbing to hear young girls singing about being drunk and “needing” a man?  Doesn’t anyone else hear what they are singing?  Sure they heard it, they were singing along.  

        Why then, did they not feel the same discomfort as I was feeling?  In a culture where we are constantly bombarded with what should be offensive to us, we very quickly and easily become desensitized.  What would have shocked generations before us, is now just a part of everyday life.  We walk through the mall and see giant posters of women dressed in nothing more than a skimpy pair of undergarments.  Commercials are laced with sexual innuendos.  Music, with distasteful lyrics is played virtually everywhere we go.  Most of the culture is so accustomed to seeing and hearing all of this garbage that we do not even notice how inappropriate it is.  We’ve been living in the stench so long, we can no longer smell it. 

       In our little Catholic Bubble, we try very hard to not only guard the senses of our children, but also our own.  When we first had children, we were not yet practicing the faith, yet I knew I did not want our daughter to hear most of the music we enjoyed listening to, nor did I want her little eyes exposed to the television shows we were watching.  As we learned more about the faith I started to question myself.  If I didn’t want her to see or hear something because it was garbage, what then would make it appropriate for me?  Would I be embarrassed if Jesus were sitting on the couch watching this with me?  Would I be comfortable singing these lyrics in church?  Over time we made changes.  We stopped watching most of our favorite shows and got rid of the majority of our music collections.  Does this mean we do not watch TV, or that we have no music?  Absolutely not (although many of our wise friends have pulled the plug and are still surviving)!  It simply means we monitor everything we see and hear. 

        The hardest part for me was the music.  I love music.   I love music to the point where I can say that for over half of my life, it was my god.  I spent hours in my room growing up listening to music.  I fell asleep listening to music, woke up listening to music, and spent my study halls writing my favorite lyrics in notebooks.  I prided myself on making the best mix tapes to listen to while cruising.  Music, for me, is more powerful than any smell, at taking me back to a certain place.  It was hard for me to let go of my attachment to all of this, but I knew it wasn’t good for my soul.  I would hear a few notes of AC/DC and I could taste the beer and feel the party.  So I got rid of the music.   I discovered a treasure of appropriate music.  Music that glorifies God.  Music that brings me closer to Him, rather than further away from Him.  Music that builds me up, instead of tearing me down.  Music I can pray to.

         It is this treasure I wish those young girls would find, because we need to guard our own senses and the senses of our children.  I don’t know who said this, but it is true: 

 "Our thoughts become our words.  Our words become our actions.  Our actions become our habits.  Our habits become our character.  Our character becomes our destiny."   

I will add to this that our thoughts are heavily influenced by our senses.  You get the picture.  Considering that our destiny is shaped by our character, habits, actions, words, and what we expose ourselves to, I pose the following question: 

Do we really want young girls (or anyone) singing about the pathetic false-love in Lady Antebellum’s (yes I did have to look it up) song? 

I say it would be far better for them to embrace the authentic love that penetrates the heart when listening to something like "Beautiful", by Mercy Me.


  1. Misty, this is an excellent post. Thank you for sharing it and I am going to share it with some friends and family.

  2. So true Misty and I love that saying about our thoughts becoming our words, etc. I don't know who did it originally, but it was in my confession talk at the S&T conference. When Father proofread that for me he added at the beginning...."guard your senses, because your senses become your thoughts."

  3. Thanks Trina! That's probably where I heard it! I thought I read something like it in Matthew Kelly's book Rediscovering Catholicism too.