From the Desk of Sara Litten:
What Happens When “I Love Me”
This morning, driving to work, XM radio kids station was playing in the background and a song came on by Meghan Trainor. This artist has been popular for a few different songs you have probably heard of: “All About That Bass,” “Me Too,” and “No.” If you haven’t listened to those songs on purpose you’ve probably heard them somewhere. This artist is not just all about that bass but also all about that girl power which we are seeing more and more from artists, the media, etc. This song, “I Love Me,” came on the radio this morning and the lyrics are very telling to some of the conversations that we, as a youth staff, have had with students over the past few years.
“I Love Me,” came out last year and is featuring LunchMoney Lewis. As a side note, if your featuring artist is named LunchMoney Lewis, where could you go wrong? Listening to the lyrics of this song, played on a kids radio station with my three year old in the car, the message was loud and clear. Here is just the first verse and the chorus:
They gon’ say all kinds of things,
they’ll make jokes about my name,
they gon’ try to clip my wings,
but I’m gon’ fly, I’m gon’ fly.
They’ll try to play
me like a game,
I bet they’re too scared of the fame,
but I can see it clearer when I’m lookin’ in the mirror,
saying God made me just right.
Chorus: I love me, I love me,
I don’t know about you baby, but I love me.
Meghan Trainor, in many of her songs including this one, emphasizes loving yourself for who you are, being the person you were made to be, loving yourself despite what other people think about you…you get the major themes here. In her song, “Me Too,” the chorus says, “If I were you, I’d wanna be me too.” There’s something empowering about these lyrics. In a world where you can’t just be good at a sport you have to be the best. Where you can’t just make a good grade, you have to be best in your class. Where you can’t just post a picture of you doing something fun with your friends, but it has to be the MOST fun thing you’ve ever done. Even if you’re looking for a recipe online, every blogger wants you to know that they have found the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe ever created!! So this message, of I love me, the way that I am is powerful. It means something, and we often cling to it.
When you are listening to a song that you love to sing when you’re with your friends, but then you listen to it with your dad or your grandmother you start to get a little embarrassed by what the words are saying. The same can happen when you’re listening to a song with your three year old in the car. It changed meaning a little bit and pointed out messages that would not have been heard otherwise. Yet, the main message that is being heard from our world is how utterly lonely we are. We have become so inwardly focused that we are physically unable to see past ourselves in the mirror. If that message is being poured into three year old brains, who, let’s be honest, have a pretty high view of themselves already, how much more will that influence them as they grow to be teenagers and adults.
There’s a mirror in Harry Potter called the Mirror of Erised. There’s a scene where Harry Potter has found this mirror and is staring into it, seeing his deceased parents standing with him again. Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster of the school, finds Harry staring into the mirror. Harry asks Dumbledore what this mirror does, if it shows all that you want and Dumbledore’s answer incredible. He says,
“It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts…However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.”
We live in a culture that tells us to stare into this mirror of desire. To stare into it because then we are looking at all the things that are lovely about ourselves. What happens the longer we stare into the mirror of self desire? What happens when “i love me” becomes our mantra?
We lose our ability to see anything outside of ourselves. We become so enthralled with the things that we want, with what we think is right, with who we think we should be that we have those expectations for everyone else around us. We stop listening to other people, because nobody is going to “clip my wings.” We have seen in so many areas of our culture, teenage and adult culture, and in our own lives what happens when we turn so inward. We don’t have to look far in scripture, only three chapters into Genesis, to see what happens when we look inwardly. When we look at “i love me” instead of “i love the one that created me.”
This is the mentality that we swim in each and every day whether we know it or not. Even the time in your life as a teenager is a time of self discovery. Of figuring out those things that make you, you. The culture around you, as evidence in this song, want you to think that you can discover all of those things just by looking in the mirror. “However, the mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth.” We don’t interact with anyone else when we’re staring into the mirror. We don’t hear anyone else’s loneliness or hurt. We don’t listen to people that have different backgrounds from us or different experiences or different struggles. “I love me,” leaves you with just that, YOU.
The Gospel calls us out of ourselves and to come to Jesus when we are experiencing loneliness, failure, loss, anxiety and rejection. Not to look into the mirror, but to look to the one that was ultimately rejected on our behalf. “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5.