Music heals. This is a concept and a saying that we have heard many times in a number of different contexts...concerts, fundraisers, organizations, music therapy.... Today I was reminded that MUSIC HEALS in family and in parenting. One of our boys (so as not to embarrass him, I'll leave his name out : ) ) was having a bit of a meltdown because I halted his ukelele practice in the family room. His paying was great, but it was a bit loud for others who were trying to enjoy the room's amenities. Since a uke is pretty easy to move to another room, I saw no problem in asking him to go somewhere else. I failed to take into account that this was probably the third time he had been asked to change his location and/or volume in the last hour, so he was feeling super frustrated and unsupported in his efforts to hone his musical skills. A temper tantrum ensued and I kind of lost it...my stance was basically, I called it, just do it, and don't whine and scream and make this worse than it has to be. To me, it was an issue of order and obedience–we can negotiate the whole ukulele in the family room, but not if you're freaking out and not respecting me. To him, it was yet another instance where he was being bumped for another brother, task or event. Poor guy.
After I lost it on him (by "lost it", I mean, I raised my voice and told him to cool it...doesn't really work, no matter what the situation, except maybe when your kid is running into traffic or something...), Lisa tried to reason with him and calm him down. That didn't work either.
At some point, we both calmed down enough for me to try something different. "Hey son, come sit on the couch with me..." Once we were in father-son snuggle mode, I tried talking again, but I also tried listening. We both ended up apologizing, and eventually ended up back in the family room, this time planning to practice a little quieter and with me joining in. I grab my '61 Danelectro with the two lowest strings off, CAPO it to match his ukulele tuning, and we start going through some songs that he is working on. I showed him the pentatonic scale, we swapped instruments, we played along to some Coldplay, and when his fingers were tired we decided to watch a live concert film. I put on U2's Live in Paris from 2015, recorded about 3.5 weeks after the November 13th terrorist attacks that left 90 dead and many more injured and traumatized, when attackers shot and bombed the Bataclan Theatre while The Eagles of Death Metal were performing.
As we watched, it hit me that my talk with my son on the couch helped sort things out, but the real healing between us came when we started playing music together. So much was wrong with the situation in Paris on Nov 13th 2015, and then so much was right as emergency first-responders and others jumped in to help. When U2 showed up to do their show and had members of the Eagles of Death Metal join them onstage, it was an act of courage and solidarity for all involved, and as the music played and people cheered and sang along and reclaimed their city and their art for freedom and peace, recovery began to take place. My little interaction with my son was nowhere near the severity of the Paris attack, but the fact that we used music in both situations to help our relationships and accelerate healing is significant.
EVERY TIME WE GET UP TO MINISTER WITH MUSIC, whether to the Lord, to His people, or to ourselves, we are making great strides toward our health and wellness, our growth and fullness of life. I remember when I met an old friend of Martin Smith's who told me that the first time he heard Shout to the North, it was after their church had gone through a traumatic split and Martin went home that week and wrote the song. He brought it back the next week in an effort to start making sense of the horrible situation they found themselves in. Laughter is the best medicine. Playing (like a child) keeps you sane and brings you peace. Prayer and meditation gets you focused and makes a difference. Music heals. So ya...grab your guitar, have some fun, maybe even laugh at yourself, and get some healing.