The music was so loud I could hardly hear myself think. I climbed out of my minivan and cast a sideways, amused glance at the car next to me. I remembered the days when I used to crank my music to ungodly levels. Something tells me I just wouldn’t look as cool today rocking out to “The Wheels on the Bus” in my minivan.
I reached for the sliding door handle to unload my kids, and that’s when I heard it.
The lyrics of the music thumping from the car were a bit…colorful. Vulgar, actually. I thought about my children who sat waiting inside the van, no doubt hearing the thump, thump of the music but unable to make out any words.
I stood there for a moment, thinking, debating.
The Holy Spirit nudged me in that oh-so-familiar, you-can’t-ignore-me way.
Ugh. Okay, fine.
I steeled myself for the awkward encounter about to take place and turned to the car next to me. I rapped my knuckles on the half rolled down window.
“Hey,” I said, in what I’m sure was an overly chipper mom-voice, “would you mind turning that down until I get my kids in the building? I don’t want them hearing those words.”
The look on the man’s face went from confused to incredulous to embarrassed, and with a slight jerk of his chin, he turned down the volume and, without a word, went back to scrolling on his phone. “Thank you!” I said way too enthusiastically, and pulled the van door open.
My son’s questions started immediately.
“Why were you talking to that guy? What were you saying to him?”
“I asked him to turn down his music.”
“Why did you do that?”
“Well, some of the words in that song weren’t very kind, and I want to protect our ears from hearing bad words.”
The look on my son’s face was one of complete and utter shock. “Why would there be bad words in a song?”
His sweet innocence nearly took my breath away. I briefly shared with him that sin has affected everything—even some kinds of music—and that we have to protect our ears and hearts from listening to things that aren’t good, beautiful, true, or pleasing to God.
As we walked into the doctor’s office, my son plastered his hands over his ears and looked at me, his eyes shining with determination. “I’m not going to let my ears hear any of those bad words.”
I smiled at his sincerity, and silently prayed for the man he’ll grow to be someday. Once again, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging my heart, reminding me that these little moments—the awkward, asking-complete-strangers-to turn-down-their-music moments—matter.
Because someday, my children won’t have me around to protect them. Someday, they’ll have the opportunity to listen to, look at, or take part in something that could damage their hearts. And on that day, they’ll have to decide for themselves whether or not they will protect their hearts and minds from the things that claim to be better than Christ, but just aren’t.
Can I be honest? Sometimes I don’t feel like rapping my knuckles on the window. I don’t feel like being selective about TV shows, music, language, or behavior. But the patterns, standards, and expectations we set for our children in the early days will carry on into the pre-teen, teen, and out-of-the-house years.
My prayer is that, by handling my children’s hearts carefully in these early years, God will turn their hearts to him and empower them to do what is right—not because “mom said so,” but because they’ve known and experienced that Christ is better.
My son believed me when I told him that that music wasn’t worth listening to—because I’m his mom. He trusts me. What a privilege and heavy responsibility to be charged with guiding our children’s hearts to see the world correctly: through the lens of God’s Word.
Parents, every awkward, cringeworthy encounter with the world is worth it if it means we can help our children know that Christ is better.
He is always better.