I once read an interesting quote—“Art is how we decorate space. Music is how we decorate time.” I’m afraid that I don’t know who originated the quote, but I’m sure you would agree that it’s a striking description of what music is.
It’s no secret that music has been a vital part of worshiping God for as long as history can remember. Hymns and reverent gospel-themed original music have been used to precede, enhance, and conclude the meetings in the weekly three-hour church block, as well as activities, seminars, conferences, and classes like seminary and Institute. The reason why is well understood—music has the ability to bring the Spirit and help convert us to gospel truths. By the same token, we have been counseled to make sure that we listen to appropriate music at all times, regardless of whether we’re in a Church-related situation, because music can influence our minds without us even completely realizing it. This is because music is a powerful manner of expressing sentiments and ideas in a way that stirs the heart. But it’s not only a tool for shaping our personalities and moral philosophies. It’s also the way that we decorate that time.
Time on Earth is a Gift
Many cultures around the world are obsessed with the passage of time. We encourage fast-paced environments and filling every minute possible with something meaningful or productive, to the point where relaxation and leisure are often erroneously equated with laziness or apathy. While it’s important not to be extreme in our endeavors to make the most of our time, the scriptures are filled with references to how precious time is, especially our time here on Earth. The passage of time is described poetically in Doctrine and Covenants 88:42-45: “And again, verily, I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and seasons; And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heaven and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets. And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years—all these are one year with God, but not with man. The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.”
Amulek expanded upon the purpose of time in Alma 34:33—“I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.”
Later, in Alma 42:4, Alma explains, “And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto men to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.” The word “probationary” refers to an environment of testing, implying that our time on earth is meant to determine whether we are willing to do what it takes to receive eternal life.
Perhaps Job’s short sermon on man’s relationship with time is the most poignant; in Job 7:1, he said simply, “Is there not an appointed time to man on earth?” Yes, although time itself is eternal, our mortal use of time is very limited. Just as the way that we choose to utilize and beautify space can tell much about our personalities and values, the way that we choose to utilize and beautify—to decorate—our time is also indicative of how we feel about our probation.
Time Can Transform Us
Music can build bridges between people, reaching into our hearts and crossing language barriers of every kind. It can instill gospel truths by calling upon the Spirit to testify of what it expresses. Literally, it can change your mind.
Just as we cannot use all our space for art, we cannot use all our time for music. But just as art can create a certain atmosphere for an entire space, music is truly the soundtrack setting the tone for our lives, influencing the way that our hearts and minds evolve, and therefore the way that we use our time when we’re not decorating it. Nobody expects you to listen to nothing but hymns or gospel-themed songs. However, music is not to be taken for granted and should be used responsibly.
Your time is precious and limited, just as your space is. Decorate it with music that will allow you to keep the Spirit with you always so that you can have the support that you need when your probation gets particularly difficult.
Frequently whimsical and overly optimistic about how much time it will take to do things, Ashley Morales is deeply passionate about the gospel and all kinds of creativity. Her hobbies include philosophically analyzing nearly every book, play, video game, and movie that she consumes, writing music and short stories, promising herself that she will finish writing her novels, going to sleep too late, eating foods she's never tried, putting off cleaning her house, browsing Zillow, spending as much quality time as possible with her wonderful husband, trying to be a good mother to her fantastic children, and never finding the balance between saying too much and too little. One day, she hopes to leave a positive mark on the world and visit every continent (except Antarctica) with her family.