I’ve been thinking a lot about music lately. This blog used to be named guitarsallie because I always had a guitar in my hand, sitting on the back porch in the sunshine, singing my heart out. It got me through the toddler years, early marriage years, my angsty twenties and through the roller coaster of college. To say singing and playing has been my lifeline is an understatement.
One of my life scriptures is
I would have lost heart, unless I had believedPsalm 27:13-14
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And he shall strengthen your heart;
Wait I say on the Lord!
I think it’s safe to say, at some point along the way, I lost heart. The other day I burst into tears while trying to explain to Elijah why I haven’t written a song in years, and I rarely play anymore. I realized that what losing heart actually meant, is that I had lost hope. I’ve always been the naively optimistic one. I always believed that no matter what:
1. God is good
2. He loves me
3. At some point things in my life would line up
with the promises He had spoken over me.
And while the first two tenets I leaned on were still standing when the dust settled after my sister’s death, the last leg of my personal belief system had been lost to losing heart. And to me, when a deeply held belief crumbles, that reveals a problem of perspective.
I’ve believed for years that the biggest reason why people turn away from belief in God is unresolved suffering. It just takes such a monumental toll, and even the most (sometimes irrationally) optimistic and hopeful of us, can under the strain of suffering, lose heart. And that is what I had done. I did not stop believing that God was real and that He loved me, but I didn’t know anymore what comes with the territory of “Believer”. I wasn’t so sure about all those promises anymore, and if I couldn’t be sure about what belonged to me, how could I keep hoping for it? And my song was silenced.
The last song I wrote was in 2019. I was leaving a job I had believed was part of those promises of God for me, but the reality that I had to move on was heart breaking. I think part of my heart is still broken over it. The song was my way of processing the pain and disappointment of having to let go of my expectations of how His goodness was going to play out in my life, and remembering the truth the Holy Spirit was singing over me any time I needed to be reminded. I think I sang this song on repeat for a good 6 months.
If I’m honest, maybe all of my songs are just that – my way of processing disappointment, pain, suffering… makes for a fun show at the coffee shop, huh? But they are also for remembering the goodness and the Truth of God’s love for me, regardless of how bad it might feel in the moment. (I’m pretty sure those are called Psalms 🙂 And it wasn’t enough to just sing songs in my bedroom and on my porch (which I did constantly) but I had to share them with the world, so people would know that they weren’t alone. Someone, somewhere in the world understood how they felt, God saw them exactly where they were, and there was hope.
All we know is what you’ve said
but is that us just putting our heads in the sand —
how do we let it go
what do we do with the withering
when it doesn’t come back to life
What do we do with all the things
we thought we knew
How do we let it go
But there is not a place you will not hold me
And love makes unbearable things lovely
And as low as we can go, you went lower still
So we can be seen known and loved
Before the dawn breaks and the earth has turned
You hover over the dark
And hide us in the feathers of your wings
So we can let go
Seen Known and Loved
I was driven with a passion to write and sing and would travel all over, playing coffee shops and clubs, anywhere I could get in the door. I busked on my travels to Oregon and Scotland, made music videos in New York and Paris, and dreamed of traveling the whole world releasing songs into the air and into people’s hearts as I went. I didn’t have to do anything to keep that dream alive in me, I didn’t have to get up every day and remind myself that I loved music and wanted to sing my songs all over the world, it just came out of me – as naturally as water flowing in a river. So you can imagine my shock when I realized that the river had dried up, and I hadn’t written a song or played music in years. I didn’t know if I even remembered how to write a song. (which is the silliest of all things I could be afraid of, in my opinion).
I couldn’t get a handle on what had caused the river to dry up until that conversation a couple of weeks ago, when I found myself suddenly crying, having hit on the root of the issue, and I said with wide eyes and revelation – I lost hope!
Randall Worley spoke this past Sunday at church, (check out the podcast here) and a couple of things in particular shot through my heart on expectations and hope.
So when our expectations are disappointed, and we are found struggling, we often try to pump up our hope, only to sink back under the dark water of hopelessness, our perception unchanged, hope not acquired. And if you’re anything like me, I find myself constantly giving up on good and beautiful things in my life (like making songs) letting go, not because I needed to, but because I couldn’t see what to hold on to.
“I’m finding a lot of people these days have lost hope. And we try our best, just like with faith, to infuse them with hope. I understand that’s a good intention, but may I tell you that God himself is hope…God himself is hope. When we are losing hope, God is hoping for us. What a relief is that?…If you’re hopeless, fine! Admit it! God can do far more with (us being honest about being hopeless) than you learning how to suppress it and manage it.”Randall Worley
This encouragement came on the heels of me finally catching up to the reality that for the past couple of years, I had indeed lost hope. This looked like not writing and singing songs, and the general feeling that I had no place in the church anymore. I felt I simply did not belong. And so I have been asking God for the past couple of weeks, where does hope come from, because I was fairly certain that just saying I was getting my hopes up wasn’t actually making it happen.
So, yes. It is a relief to know that God is actually the embodiment of our hope. He is hope itself. Just as he is Love. And to find hope, all I have to do is find Him, and since he is inside me, surrounding me, coursing through my very veins, that doesn’t seem like such a hard task – all it takes is to listen.
So here is to remembering what is true, what is lovely, what is pure, and thinking on these things. Here is to finding God where He may be found. Here is to God being Hope himself, so therefore my very veins pulse with hope. What a relief.
To mark this new day, and to begin again – here is a super old recording of one of my favorite songs – Abide. I hope it stirs the Love of God in your heart as it has in mine.