This past fall and winter/spring terms, the women's Bible study at my church has been one of unity in large group and intimacy in small groups. During the fall, we studied who God is and what God is like through a super fast paced study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. During the winter/spring, we began to delve more into our personal stories and learning how to REALLY LISTEN to each other. This is MY story. His story through my life and experiences.
So the BIG day came today. It was my turn to share. Only one problem. It meant communication. Communication that was not necessarily a form that I was comfortable with or ready for. I already felt the pressure of having a harder life in my short lifespan and feeling a little envious of everyone else. I had even thought in the past week that I did not even want to try to share. What could I say? How could I say it? What if it's too hard? What if it's too much? How do I tell my story without feeling unsafe?
So this past weekend, I finally landed on a solution. I hear God in music and in nature. The babbling of a creek in a park. Songs. So what if I could find a way to use that to my advantage. Use songs to help tell my story. I would still tell my story, but I would use the songs to help me communicate in a way that would feel safe for me. That way, I could just explain why those songs told my story.
So that's exactly what I did. This is my story. My story through songs. God's story through my life as told through songs.
The songs I chose that best fit my life are: "You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North, "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns, "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North, "Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North, "Move" by NewSong and "Get Back Up" by TobyMac.
I had some help finding scriptures to go with the songs. And I will admit, in some ways, I may have "cheated," but you know what? I was able to communicate just enough with the help of the songs. I was not trying to wimp out by using songs to help me tell my story. Nope. Wimping out would have been to back out entirely. But instead of backing out entirely, I took the creative approach to overcome my verbal communication challenges and tell my story.
So here is my story. Grant it, a small part of my story, but still my story. My part of God's bigger story.
"You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North
There's a girl in the corner with tear stains on her eyes/From the places she's wandered and the shame she can't hide/She says, "How did I get here? I'm not who i once was./And I'm crippled by the fear that I've fallen too far to love."
But don't you know who you are,/What has been done for you?/Yeah don't you know who you are?
You are more than the choices that you've made/You are more than the sum of your past mistakes/You are more than the problems you create/You've been remade
Well she tries to believe it that she's been given new life/But she can't shake the feeling that it's not true tonight/She knows all the answers and she's rehearsed all the lines/So she'll try to do better but then she's too weak to try
'Cause this is not about what you've done/But what's been done for you/This is not about where you've been/But where your brokenness brings you to/This is not about what you feel but He felt to forgive you/And what He felt to make you new
II Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
To me, this song mirrors the very things that I feel and have felt on a frequent basis as I went through abuse at home and bullying at school. I did not have a safe place growing up. A lot of times when a child grows up in an abusive home, there is a lot of shame. The child sometimes has the distorted view that somehow he/she did something to deserve that treatment. But that is just not true.
"Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns
I was sure by now God you would have reached down/And wiped our tears away,/Stepped in and saved the day./But once again, I say amen/And it's still raining/As the thunder rolls/I barely hear you whisper through the rain,/I'm with you/And as your mercy falls/I raise my hands and praise/The God who gives and takes away
And I'll praise you in this storm/And I will lift my hands/That you are who you are/No matter where I am/And every tear I've cried/You hold in your hand/You never left my side/And though my heart is torn/I will praise you in this storm
I remember when I stumbled in the wind/You heard my cry you raised me up again/My strength is almost gone how can I carry on/If I can't find you/And as the thunder rolls/I barely hear you whisper through the rain
I'm with you/And as your mercy falls/I raise my hands and praise/The God who gives and takes away
I lift my eyes unto the hills/Where does my help come from?/My help comes from the Lord,/The maker of heaven and earth/I lift my eyes unto the hills/Where does my help come from?/My help comes from the Lord,/The maker of heaven and earth
Revelation 7:17 (ESV) "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Psalm 121:1, 2 (ESV) "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."
In the middle of the storms that create the feelings of shame and fear, the hope is that God would intervene. And He does. It may be in unexpected ways, but eventually He always comes to the aid of His children.
"By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North
Why are you striving these days?/Why are you trying to earn grace?/Why are you crying?/Let me lift up your face/Just don't turn away
Why are you looking for love?/Why are you still searching?/As if I'm not enough?/To where will you go child/Tell me where will you run?/To where will you run?
I'll be by your side wherever you fall/In the dead of night whenever you call/Please don't fight these hands that are holding you/My hands are holding you
Look at these hands and my side/They swallowed the grave on that night/When I drank the world's sin/So I could carry you in/And give you life
Here at my side wherever you fall/In the dead of night whenever you call/Please don't fight these hands that are holding you/My hands are holding you
And I, I love you/And I want you to know/That I, I'll love you/I'll never let you go
Psalm 37:24 (ESV) "though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand."
John 10:28-30 (ESV) "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
This song reminds me that no matter what, God is always there by my side. As a sort of defensive mechanism to the abuse and the bullying, I ended up becoming a perfectionist. Perfectionism is both a good thing and a bad thing. But being a perfectionist trying to earn grace and acceptance and love is not a good thing. Because no matter what I do, I can never earn that. Try as I might. So being able to trust that God is always there by my side is a constant struggle for me.
"Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North
So you thought you had to keep this up/All the work that you do so we think that you're good/And you can't believe it's not enough/All the walls you built up are just glass on the outside/So let them fall down/There's freedom waiting in the sound/When you let your walls fall to the ground/We're here now
This is where the healing begins/This is where the healing starts/When you come to where you're broken within/The light meets the dark/The light meets the dark
Afraid to let your secrets out/Everything that you hide could come crashing through the door now/But too scared to face all your fear/So you hide but you find that the shame won't disappear/Sparks will fly as grace collides/With the dark inside of us/So please don't fight this coming light/Let this blood come cover us/His blood can cover us
Ephesians 1:7 (ESV) "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,..."
Romans 5:9 (ESV) "Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God."
In the past couple of years, I have started to see where God has begun a healing process with me as I learn more about what has really been going on with my physical health and other areas. Recently, I learned that not only do I have ADHD, but I also have autism. And I still need testing for dyslexia. But knowing is half the battle as now I can learn more about how I am impacted and learn how to overcome the challenges that are presented. I do not have a disease that needs to be cured. I have a challenge to overcome. And I can do it because God will bring me through it. And I am not to be ashamed of it because eventually it will come to surface. I do not need to be putting up facades because in doing that I am fighting against the very people who are trying to help me and I need help. I need to stop fighting God because He is on my side.
"Move" by NewSong
I'm a man in need of a miracle/But all I have is hope/God I need to see Your power fall/Like it did in the days of old/I know You're who you say you are/Cause You've proven that to me/But this time seems impossible/Won't You help my unbelief
I need to see You move/I need to see Your hand/I'm trying to live by faith/I don't know if I can/But I know You've not changed/There's nothing You can't do/I've done all that I can/The rest is up to You/I need to see You move
Like Moses in the wilderness/Like Daniel when he prayed/Like Simeon in the temple/When he finally saw Your face/Lord like them I'm just a man/And I've got everything to lose/So what you did for them/Would you do for me/What I'm desperate for is You
I'm finding out what it really means/To trust You Lord with everything/To trust You, really trust You
Through everything that I have encountered in my life, all of the hardships and other challenges, I have often felt that I really do need that miracle but that all I have is hope. I struggle with trusting God, but I am learning just what it really means to trust Him.
"Get Back Up" by TobyMac
You turned away when I looked you in the eye/And hesitated when I asked if you were alright/Seems like you're fightin' for your life/But why, oh, why/Wide awake in the middle of your nightmare/You saw it comin' but it hit you out of nowhere/And there's always scars when you fall that far
We lose our way, we get back up again/It's never too late to get back up again/And one day you gonna' shine again/You may be knocked down, but not out forever/We lose our way, we get back up again/So get up, get up, you gonna' shine again/It's never too late to get back up again/You may be knocked down, but not out forever
You rolled out of the dawning of the day/Heart racin' as you made your little get away/It feels like you been runnin' all your life/But why, oh, why/So you pull away from the love that would've been there/And start believin' that your situation's unfair/But there's always scars when you fall that far
This is love callin', love callin'/Out to the broken this is love callin'/This is love callin', love callin'/I am so broken/This is love callin', love callin'
What this song speaks to me about is that no matter how hard I fall, I can't fall so far that God cannot help me get back up again and get back in the fight. Whether it's because of something that I have done or something that has happened to me, I can still get back up. It is a song of hope and a song of courage. And like Gomer in Hosea when we initially hid from God but God still pursued us, I need to stop fighting and allow people to love me.
All of this realization that I am now starting to be able to share comes on the tail of having done a study on some of the names of God and identifying situations in my own life where I have seen those names the most. I still struggle, particularly with God as a Father, but I am taking baby steps and reaching milestones. I need help and I am done fighting against those who are trying to help me.
And I know God was working in this because in each of the six different songs there was one recurring theme throughout all of them that tied them all together. Frankly, this whole experience sharing my story even though through a more creative and unique channel of using song to help tell it has been very life affirming and confirming. And that's a good thing.