Music is powerful. That is more than a statement, and music truly is more than a song. Many artists freely admit that their songs stem from their own stories. They write from their own heart – which often contains unimaginable pain. To the naked eye, these songs are just pretty music with nice words. This is where I challenge things. Not that those thoughts are wrong, but I’d simply like to add. A song allows the artist to tell a story – and that story may include pain, hope, sadness, joy or a myriad of other emotions. But, it tells a story and that story resonates with different people on different levels – but does do Aggy whatever step on this journey through life they are taking.
To share a practical example of this principle in action, I’d like to share a personal moment with you. I was invited to a concert to see Zealand Worship, Citizen Way, and MercyMe live. Part of me wanted so much to go, but the other part of me wrestled with this. I was physically tired, and not feeling like getting out of bed after the late afternoon nap I couldn’t avoid. But, my choice to go and to be with friends for a night if music won that battle. I went. And I’m glad.
To further explain just the significance of those moments in time…
To backtrack a slight bit, I’ll briefly tell you why I was in the mood and frame of mind that I was. As you may or may not know, we lost a baby through miscarriage, and also seven years later – we lost our precious 7 year olddaughter Janet after a very courageous battle with what we’d learn was terminal brain cancer. I’ve lost friends and military unit members to suicide. I’ve experienced abuse, and know the effects of trauma. I know the pain of depression and the effects of mental illness.
I was thinking, mostly about missing my little girl since her death is still so fresh. (She passed away Feb. 13, 2016.) But, those thoughts brought up so many more. Thoughts of brokenness. Thoughts of pain. Thoughts of hope and love – often hidden or elusive. I really wasn’t okay.
In those moments, I really wasn’t okay. I wasn’t actually suicidal. But, I’d be lying if I told you that living through this kind of personal hell on earth can be seemingly impossible. I was thinking about life being unfair, and seeming so broken, almost beyond repair. I was thinking about life after death. I was thinking about seeing my daughter, and so many others who have gone before and after her. Thinking of the epic reunion that would be.
But, the thought of going to a concert again won. I had attended several concerts with Janet. She adored music as well, and could sing right along to many songs. Songs with messages. I had to remember that. I had to go and see what messages I would hear. I wondered if there would be anything spoken or otherwise delivered that could still touch my shattered heart. I may have had doubts there, but the desire was there for a reason.
Love, comfort, peace and strength were just a few of those reasons.
The first band to take the stage was Zealand Worship. I had never seen them before. Their words and their songs were spot on. They made me smile, and wish for a CD. To see the raised hands (the bands, but countless others around the arena) in worship did something. It sparked a memory of love – if a time in life that did know pain, but more accurately also knew tremendous hope.
The next band to walk on stage was Citizen Way. This band is one I met roughly five or six years ago at A Christmas concert. At the time, my daughter hasn’t even been diagnosed with cancer, but life still knew pain. At the time, they spoke words directly from God to me heart. This concert was no different. In fact, meaningful took on a whole new meaning. Ben Calhoun (from the band) spoke so many words that my heart grabbed onto. But, when he started to talk about the pain and trains behind some of the passion in their music, I held onto every word. You see, he and his wife had to say goodbye to a son (Jeremiah) that they never had the opportunity to know this side of Heaven. They may have had the opportunity to hold him, and to experience death in a strong, personal, and very real way. When Ben related how he felt His God was speaking to him – that, that grabbed hold of my heart. God’s warm and loving hands were holding Jeremiah in His hands. From Ben and his wife’s hands, directly into the hands of God. That thought brought me so much peace and comfort in that very moment. It helped me see my own story in a similar light – as I had a similar experience with pregnancy loss, but also in the death of my seven year old princess. Citizen Way’s songs just spoke to my heart than they ever had before. They spoke to my heart on a personal level. They were instrumental in the tears in my eyes being happy instead of painful tears.
After Zealand Worship and Citizen Way were finished, I wondered what more was in store – what ways God could use music notes and words from a page to bring peace, comfort, strength, and love to this broken heart. To this depressed and hurting (proud to be recognized as) child of God. So, I opened my heart to the possibility of hope being real again, even of life having purpose once again. For love to hold me. So, there I remained – now with renewed expectancy. Next up was the final band of the evening.
The final band to bless the arena with its presence, and to share the heart of God with the same kind of passion of the two bands on stage before them, was MercyMe. Their lead singer, Bart Millard spoke from his heart – sharing so much pain and yet so much hope and peace in spite of the hurts. As a case in point example, he spoke of a venerable part of his story with such heartbreaking transparency – to an audience around six thousand, give or take. He shared the original hell on earth he lived as he endured verbal and physical abuse from his father – from someone who should have been busy protecting his heart, not crushing it. Then he shared the real miracle. His father came to know Jesus as the Lord and Savior of his life. Though skeptical, he watched his father’s heart and entire life surrender to Christ. Through that process, he was able to forgive his father, and a relationship built on love was permitted instead of one surrounded by painful memories. He even said he hopes to be like him when/if he ever grows up. (Bart, for what it’s worth – I don’t think you ever need to be concerned with you ever growing up. I don’t believe that’s a thing – it even possible! But you are a man with a heart like it sounds like your father finally came to know – – one of so much love and compassion.)
I’ll now circle back to my own thoughts, feelings and emotions that evening. There were thoughts of pain and hurting, of not wanting to live life this way, and of wishing for escape – that point where hope seems elusive. You can know in your head that how was never lost, but convincing your heart to believe it – sometimes very difficult. So I went there to spend time with dear friends, but left with so much more. I went to what I knew would be nice – maybe even encouraging music. What I did not expect was the very real infusion of hope and love right back into my heart. God’s love, largely in part due to the words and messages in the songs and spoken words, was able to permeate more broken places in what I feel is my shattered heart. But, what I realized was that He is still God. He is still good. And, He is still in control. No amount of pain or loss will ever take that away. He holds every single shattered piece of my heart (and yours too, if it’s broken) in the palm of His loving hands – close to His heart. I found myself falling in love with the heart again in such a sweet way.
So, if you’re a musician, songwriter, or anyone (from all thees venues, staff, and all members of the bands) who makes this possible – thank you. Don’t EVER doubt your worth – personally or as a team. What you do matters, and is life changing – life saving even. I may never have the opportunity to personally meet you. But, if I did, I’d consider it an honor to just look you in the eyes and say thank you. To say job well done. To say I’m proud of you for stepping outside your respective comfort zones and sharing intimate details of your life, and allowing those details (even the pain) to bring hope and healing while allowing countless others (myself included) to know they aren’t alone. Ever. Through anything.
Thank you for helping me remember these things.
If you are a fellow music lover such as myself, I want you to also hear these words. You are not alone. It’s okay to not always be okay. But, it’s also okay to allow yourself the freedom that comes with also allowing yourself to feel joy. No matter where you are in life, or what personal hell you’re going through, you don’t have to experience life alone. Please don’t believe the lie that tells you you’re alone, or that no one could possibly understand. No one can understand your specific brand of pain – bit they can relate on a universal level – that pain hurts. Allow others in. If this is you and if you’re hurting, please reach out. Talk to someone – a trusted friend, your pastor, your family, a counselor or therapist, or right here on the internet. Speak and be known. Feel free to reach out here and post in comments or send me a message via the contract me option. I’ll look forward to connecting and sharing life with you. Yes, I mean that. And yes, I’m still talking to you. You – you are loved and hope is real. Rescue is possible.
To everyone reading, a side note – May is a number of things, but two of them are near and dear to my heart. May holds title of brain cancer and also mental health awareness. So, as such – take the time to surround anyone you know (especially those fighting brain or any cancer) With love. Take the time to get to know people on more than skin deep levels. Let people know you’re willing to walk with them, or sour together in the pain. You have no idea the impact you can have or the absolute fact that you could potentially be saving a life. Even when you know a person, unless they choose to take off the mask, you may not fully know them. Be that for someone else, and allow someone the honor of being that for you. You be you, and know you’re loved. Right where you are. No questions asked. You ate a human being, worthy of so much love and grace. Again, you be you – your the best person to play your part.
For a slideshow videos of more pictures from this event, please feel free to check this link out. Concert pictures on YouTube