Music Monday | Twenty Four

Copy of Music Monday (2)

I turned 24 a week ago today. As such, it seemed only fitting to play the song “Twenty Four” by Switchfoot on repeat on my birthday, and for it to be my unofficial song of the year. Jon Foreman wrote this song right before he turned 25, but it’s a fitting song for any age really. It seems especially fitting for where I am in my life right now.

When talking about the song, Jon was quoted saying:

“Sometimes I feel like my soul is polluted with politicians, each with a different point of view. With all 24 of them in disagreement, each voice is yelling to be heard. And so I am divided against myself. I feel that I am a hypocrite until I am one, when all of the yelling inside of me dies down. I’ve heard that the truth will set you free. That’s what I’m living for: freedom of spirit. I find unity and peace in none of the diversions that this world offers. But I’ve seen glimpses of truth and that’s where I want to run.”

Like Jon, and really anyone I suppose, there are many voices screaming in my head, begging for my attention on any given day. Some of the voices pierce my soul like daggers. Some of the voices distract me from more important things. Some of the voices are fueled by my selfish pride and ambition. Every year and everyday so far, I have fallen to these voices. I’ve bowed down to things that are lies or from the father of lies. I’ve created clever masks and disguises to hide the filth underneath. I will continue to fall for however many years I live in this world. Everyday I battle my flesh and the voices in my head. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. But never does my failure change God’s word.

Hearing the Voice of Truth over the voices of the world and the voices in my head is not easy. In fact, it’s downright difficult. On my own, I could never manage it. But I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and to Him I want to run, even when the voices are there to distract me, break me, and cause me to stumble. And He is faithful, through every stumble. It’s a long, hard, painful process, but He is raising the dead in me.

“And You’re raising these twenty-four voices
With twenty-four hearts
With all of my symphonies in twenty-four parts
But I want to be one today
Centered and true.
I’m singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
You’re raising the dead in me.”

“Twenty Four” – Switchfoot

 

Music Monday | Hope is the Anthem

Music Monday

I had to get outside today. The anxiety in my mind and heart was overwhelming. I needed to walk. I needed to pray. I needed a little perspective. I needed some music from one of my favorite bands.

It was a cold and blustery day here in MASS today. It was so cold and windy I almost turned back to go to the warm office to make some hot tea instead. But the whole reason I was outside was to escape the office and to-do list for a few moments. So I trudged along the icy paths with one ear bud in and a playlist of favorite songs playing. Somewhat ironically, the wind gusts attempted to steal my breath away on numerous occasions and it got me thinking. One can’t live long without breathing. Similarly, we can’t live long without hope. A little hope can go a long way, but it is as necessary for our souls as oxygen is for our body. Without hope, what’s the point of doing anything? What is the point of working hard, striving, and living? The problem is, we often put hope in the wrong things: money, success, relationships, careers, reputations, etc. These things aren’t inherently bad. In fact, they are good things. It’s easy for them to become idols though, and that’s when they become hurtful things. These things weren’t meant to bare the weight of life in this world alone. Indeed, they cannot bare it.

My lungs and I were born to fight
Sometimes I’m not sure what I’m fighting for
But death ain’t the only end in sight
‘Cause this ain’t a battle, it’s a lifelong war
-Switchfoot (“Hope is the Anthem”)
I tend to put my hope in good things that ultimately will fade away, and that is the root cause of so much of my anxiety. God has had to remind me time and time again that my hope should not be in me or anything that I can do on my own. My hope should not be in other people or their perceptions of me. My hope needs to be in something so much bigger than me and all the responsibilities of everyday life.  My hope needs to be in Him.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
(1 Peter 1:3)

The hope that God alone gives is living and it is eternal. This hope will not put us to shame (Romans 5:5). This hope gives strength. This hope overcomes and survives through bitter adversity and seemingly hopeless situations. This hope cannot be destroyed by any weapon in the enemy’s arsenal. This hope is resilient. This hope can flourish even in desperate situations.

With this in mind, I can keep living and living it well. And so can you. As my favorite band so aptly says: Hope is the Anthem.

Hope is the anthem of my soul because it is stronger than my anxiety. Hope is the anthem of my soul because it gives me strength to carry on. Hope is the anthem of my soul because it allows me to serve and offer temporal hope to a hurting world all while pointing to the only Eternal Hope. Hope is the anthem of my soul because God has given me hope even though doubt, anxiety and shame often seek to drown me. Hope is the anthem of my soul because God loves me and has promised to never leave me. Hope is the anthem of my soul because God gave my soul this song to sing. Hope is the anthem of my soul, and may my soul sing it all my life long.

 

I’m Graduating and I want to Live it Well

The past few years, I’ve been battling some intense darkness in my mind. Fear, anxiety, self-hatred, depression, and other feelings have come over me like crashing waves and sometimes it feels like I’m drowning. Then I look at the suffering and trials of people around me and around the world. It is overwhelming. There is so much pain and darkness in this world. As Jon Foreman says:

“…the dark wounds of our world are inescapable- the wound is you, it’s me, it’s humanity. The wound is Afghanistan, it’s Palestine, it’s the United States. The wound is our broken homes, our broken marriages, our broken hearts. The wound is Golgotha, the wound is the cross. But rather than running away, let’s embrace the truth about our broken humanity, and the truth will set us free! Let’s not pretend to be well- after all, it’s the sick that need a doctor. No, we are the wounded. Mortally wounded. Darkly wounded. But, the wound is where the light shines through. Do we really believe in a Living God who is our redeemer, strong and loving- capable of healing these wounds? If so, then let’s bring our darkness to him. All of it. Life is short I want to live it well.”

I have started to confront the darkness in my life. First comes acknowledging it, rather

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My decorated college graduation cap

than always running away from it. I have come to accept that I am a broken, wounded person. The wound is where the light does indeed shine through. God has been reminding me that He hasn’t left me and that I am His creation, a creation continually being created. While the dark thoughts have not left my mind, there is a renewed hope that shines bright and gives me courage to continue on. 

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

I am about to graduate college. This is supposed to be a joyful time and people keep reminding me that I have my future before me. The future, however, is filled with uncertainty that is overwhelming and somewhat terrifying. One thing that I do know, however, is that I do not want to waste my life. God has led me this far and He has plans for my future. What is unknown to me is known to Him. I am still wounded and still broken, but that is a part of being human. I have one life to live and one story to tell. I want to live it well.

“I wanna sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
Yeah, I’m living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn

Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell.”

(“Live it Well” by Switchfoot)