Hope found in lyrics

Have you ever listened to a song on repeat, until the lyrics are forever burned into all corners of your brain? I can listen to a song on repeat for days and weeks on end. When the world moved on from Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” I made it my ringtone, to ensure no one around me would forget the gold that this song is. I choose songs based on their lyrics, their beat, or how they make me feel. Sometimes I will listen to a song until the emotion (such as sadness or anger) has subsided, as if with each repeat a little more emotion has escaped me.

In times of deep sorrow and big questions I am somehow always brought back to Gungor’s “Beautiful Things.” It starts with the lyrics

all this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change
at all

In that place, I deeply connect with these lyrics. It’s as if someone else has joined me in the pit of confusion, giving words to my feelings. But the lyrics don’t allow me to stay there – they remind me to look up and remember hope.

all around
hope is springing from this old ground
out of chaos life is being found
in you
you make beautiful things
you make beautiful things out of the dust
you make beautiful things
you make beautiful things out of us

 

The first time I listened to this song on repeat I was sitting in an airport, trying to drown out the noise around me and focus my thoughts from the previous 48 hours. 6 years ago I felt defeated and unsure what to do next. I had flown from Reno, NV to Kansas City, MO to meet a missions team moving to France and decide if I was a good fit. It was a 5 year commitment, but I was desperate to be outside of the U.S. I thought desperation could eventually overpower my general dislike for most French people and the French language. Maybe I could change once I was there? Confronted with a team of 5 people genuinely in love with all things France it was clear I wasn’t a good fit.

I remember sitting at a large table in a small room, talking with the board and new CEO of the organization, all of us aware I wasn’t going to France but uneasy how to start that conversation. It was suggested I begin discipleship under someone trusted in my church, and maybe travel for longer than two weeks before committing to five years.

So there I am, at the airport, sad to be stuck in the States without a clear plan and the intimidating assignment of asking someone to disciple me. It felt like I was sent back to square-one. I put on my headphones and selected a premade mix of songs to try to make myself feel better. Slowly, the lyrics from Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” started to play.

I listened to that one song, on repeat, for my entire 6 hour flight. I didn’t gain answers, but I felt ok to be sad and reminded not to give up. It took me 2 weeks to muster the courage to ask Kelly to disciple me. She is a powerhouse of a woman – confident in the Lord and how the Lord made her, not afraid to take charge or call you out on your crap. I spent 2 years working with her – studying and memorizing scripture, reading so many books on all things Christianity and missions, and being challenged in my thinking of myself and the world. She was the one who told me to just leave and go on a missions trip already. Fast forward to my 11 month trip with the World Race, ultimately working for that organization for 2.5 years.

When things fell through after moving to WA, I again stumbled across this song. I was reminded of how things worked out for the best, despite being vastly different from the story I had written for myself. I felt sad, but I felt hope for the unknown. I may have taken 2 steps back instead of 2 steps forward. I may be rerouting my life currently, but I’m also redefining happiness and finding newfound freedom. What do you do when life pushes you down like a bully in the sandbox?

 

you make beautiful things out of the dust
you make beautiful things
you make beautiful things out of us

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