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When Conviction Trumps Value

Music CDSeveral times in my life, I’ve felt strongly convicted about addressing a personal issue. I’m no different than anyone else in that sometimes a barrier of some kind keeps me from moving forward. The choices we make in those moments can have a lasting impact for the rest of our life.

One such occasion occurred my junior year of college. I attended Cedarville University in Ohio, a Christian liberal-arts college of about 2,000 students at the time of my enrollment. As part of our program, each student was required to attend chapel services each day along with the occasional special event, such as a lectureship series or revival meeting. During one of these special events, I became convicted of something that many would call irrelevant and only a minor issue.

To me it was big deal though…made bigger when I realized what it would cost me.

Like many college students of the time, I had amassed a quality collection of CDs. (For all you teenagers and early 20-somethings out there, I’m not talking about bank CDs. Music used to be digitally embedded on a disc like the ones you put in your PS3. We didn’t have music files downloaded straight to a phone or iPad. Just thought you’d like to know how rough we had it. And don’t even ask our parents how they listened to music…you don’t want to know.)

My collection wasn’t extravagant but did include some of the best secular talent of the times. And I really enjoyed listening to it, perhaps a bit too much. During one particular revival meeting, I became convicted that my music, and the subtle messages it filled my brain with, were keeping me from moving forward in my faith.

Now comes the decision. I clearly felt called to rid myself of my secular music collection. But what to do with it? After a night of reflection, three possible avenues emerged.

I could ignore my conviction and keep my music.

I could sell it.

I could trash it.

Dilemma.

There were many in my dorm that would have loved to pick up some U2 or The Boss on the cheap. And I could have made several hundred dollars going the CD-garage sale route. Something about that though made my skin crawl. It felt dirty, almost as though I was profiting from a spiritual awakening.

So I chose to trash them.

And to make sure no one went dumpster diving after dark to scavenge for my collection, (and to make sure I didn’t have a change of heart and retrieve them myself) I sliced the backing of each one with a knife before I pitched them. (Again for the younger crowd, scratching the back of a music CD makes it inoperable because the laser can’t read it properly.)

This may seem really weird and I’m sure you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal about music?” I get it. Perhaps that’s a discussion for another time. But, in that moment I knew it was the right call. Following my conviction vastly outweighed the value of that music.

Ever give something up because it was blocking progress in your life? What was your favorite 80s or 90s musician?

Image by seaskylab at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Next Post: Even Jesus Had a Side Hustle?

Prior Post: What’s More Valuable: Short or Long-Term Goals?

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Comments

  1. Like Matt, I don’t have an example like yours, but I have given up friendships that are doing more harm than good, even though I valued them at one time. Letting go of relationships when they are preventing you from moving forward is very difficult, but necessary sometimes. Just like letting go of some other things may help you take some necessary actions to move forward, as well.

    • I agree Daisy. Letting go of friendships is one of the toughest things to do. On one hand I hate losing the connection to people I care about. But when that relationship hinders or affects me negatively in some way, it’s time to move on (at least until there is positive change that allows me to pursue the friendship again).

  2. I don’t have an example exactly like yours, where I could have sold something but decided to trash it out of principle. But there are plenty of things I’ve given up because I realized they were hurting me, the biggest of which was smoking weed when I was in college. I finally awakened to the fact that it was really hurting my life and that the only way to change was to stop. So one day I just decided to stop, and that was it from that point on. I found to be incredibly refreshing and freeing to just totally and completely give it up, rather than try to scale down or something like that. It made the decision much clearer and I think the result was that it was much easier.

    • Wow Matt…thanks for sharing that! It’s great that you were able to make a swift and clean break from it. That wouldn’t seem like the norm for people trying to back away from a destructive habit.

  3. Alexa Mason says:

    This reminds of me of something my brother did when we were younger. My mom never took us to Church on a regular basis. One Sunday though we went after my parents had been divorced. My brothers and I went from being very well behaved kids to well, wild to put it mildly. I can’t remember exactly what the sermon was about that Sunday but my brother walked out to the car and broke all of his rap CD’s in half. Unfortunately this was short lived and a few days later he was back to his wild self. But, whatever message he had heard led him to believe he shouldn’t be listening to what he was listening to.

    • Obviously he was convicted about something. My decision still affects me to this day, as I’m very careful what I allow into my mind via music. I’ve just found most of the artists of today have nothing worthwhile to say and their lifestyles/actions leave much to be desired.

  4. Hmmm…I don’t really get this one, but that is not my problem. You did what you thought was right and that is what matters. I gave up spending like I was rich because it was taking my life over.

    • I suspected that would be the case for some Grayson. Perhaps I should have offered more explanation in the post…sorry about that. It was clearly a spiritual issue for me where I felt the messages of the music I was listening to were inconsistent and ran counter to the messages I was reading every day in the Bible. That realization led me to ask the question, “How can I hold on to something that is blocking my relationship with God?” My faith creates more value in my life than music ever could which is why I chose to rid myself of it. To this day, I rarely listen to secular music (or attend many movies for that matter) because I don’t agree with most of the messages it sends (especially to kids) about what’s important in life.

  5. Hmm, the only thing I can think of really is toxic friendships. I used to hang on to friends that were energy vampires for reasons I still don’t know. I think I was worried about hurting their feelings or worried they might retaliate in some way, but the benefit far outweighed any cost. I think my all-time fave 80’s group was Duran Duran, and I loved Pearl Jam in the 90’s. Pretty much the reason I moved to Seattle.

    • “Energy vampires…” Love the image! You are right though. It can be difficult to remove ourselves from damaging relationships, especially ones that we’ve held for a long time. Great example!

  6. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Ugh, we have SO been there before, Brian. Movies was our biggest one, that, and TV shows. We trashed the movies/DVDs instead of selling them, and that was difficult. But it was a great lesson in teaching us how to work harder on acting selflessly. Thanks for sharing a great post.

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