I used to hate music.
I never listened to it and didn’t like it when people played it around me.
It wasn’t until I got older, I realized why.
Music evokes and awakens emotions. Strong emotions. Often unpleasant emotions. What I really hated were emotions, not music.
Looking back, I understand why. The little girl and young teenager was hurting. She felt she had to keep her emotions in check. She was like a full glass; eventually the surface tension was so delicate a single drop of water would make her overflow.
When the drop came, it wasn’t just a drop, it was a torrent. The cup overflowed big time and I had no choice but to face my emotions, most of which manifested as severe anxiety.
I had so many emotions to work through, so many things to process and grieve, and I didn’t even know how to identify them. I had no idea where to start.
But I had to face my pain. I had to face the music. Literally.
It was in this confused, anxiety-stricken place that I turned to music. Music helped me feel my pain. Music taught me to cry. Music gave words to what I felt when I had none of my own.Music gives words to what we feel when we have none of our own. Click To Tweet
When I didn’t know what to say to God, music was my prayer. When I felt alone, it reminded me God was there. The melody and words told me that so many people had been where I was and made it through, and I would too.
I can’t share all the songs that have helped me process and heal over the past few years – that would take far too long. But I’ve chosen five I think have made the most impact on my life in hopes they will help you too.
“I Will Rise Again” by Jason Gray
I played this song on repeat countless evenings when the tremors wouldn’t stop, and the tears wouldn’t come. When I felt completely trapped and time stood still. Verse one says this:
“It was like somebody knew how to cripple me with the perfect plan to break my belief. It took me piece by piece till my faith was all but gone. It knocked me down so far that I couldn’t get up. But face down in the dirt I heard the voice of Love saying, ‘Do not fear, you won’t be here for long.’”
That’s where I was, and I clung to those words. Over and over, I whispered to myself, “Do not fear, you won’t be here for long.”
“I will rise again. I will rise again. I believe, I believe that I had to break so Love could make me whole. But I will rise again, stronger in the end. I believe, I believe in a brand-new day, a Love that saves so I can say, I will rise again.”
I wanted to believe the chorus, desperately. But it was hard. It might be hard for you right now. But whatever dark place you are in, always remember you won’t be there for long. You will rise again, just like I did, because Christ has overcome.Whatever dark place you are in, always remember you won’t be there for long. You will rise again, because Christ has overcome. Click To Tweet
“’Cause You’ve been here before. And You’ve overcome the world. My life is found in Yours. And You say, I will rise again.”
“The Garden” by Kari Jobe
When I first heard The Garden, I bawled. Then I went home, listened to it a few more times and bawled some more. It was one of the first real cries I’d had in a long time.
I was never a crier. Even growing up I hardly shed a tear. Whenever I did, I was embarrassed and tried to hide it. But something about this song touched my soul and opened me up.
“I had all but given up. Desperate for a sign from love. Something good. Something kind. Bringing peace to every corner of my mind.”
This is how the song begins, and it hit me right there. With those words tears streamed down my face because she was saying out loud what I couldn’t.
“Faith is rising up like ivy, reaching for the light. Hope is stirring deep inside me, making all things right. Love is lifting me from sorrow, catching every tear, dispelling every lie and torment, crushing all my fears.”
Love Himself lifted my sorrow, wiped away my tears, drove away my torment, and crushed my fears. It didn’t happen immediately or all at once. It happened like a seed turning into a garden. And Jesus is willing and able to do the same for you.
“Remind Me You’re Here” by Jason Gray
I know this is the second Jason Gray song I’m sharing, but his songs are so rich I had a hard time just picking these two.
When I first heard this song, I was hourly asking God why. Why is this happening to me?
But this song changed my whole perspective:
“None of my pain has ever caught You by surprise. Still, it’s hard to trust You when I’m lost in the wondering why. But I’ll trade every question just to lay down and rest in Your heart. And I’ll reach for Your hand, though You led me here into the dark.
And I won’t ask You for reasons, ’cause a reason can’t wipe away tears. No, I don’t need all the answers. Just be here beside me. Father, remind me You’re here.”
I realized I didn’t really want to know why I was going through what I was. The fact was, I was going through it, and I hurt. Knowing why something hurts never makes it hurt any less.Knowing why something hurts never makes it hurt any less. Click To Tweet
I stopped asking God, “Why is this happening?” and I started saying, “Father, be here beside me. Remind me You’re here.”
This is your reminder that God is right there with you, too.
“Undertow” by Danny Gokey
To start, this is a love song. But I was in a place in life where I was struggling deeply to feel the love of God, and it was this song that helped me.
Memorizing the chorus was one of the best decisions I made during that time. Many dark nights I ran these words through my head until I finally fell asleep. Eventually they became the most peaceful moments my torn-up mind and heart experienced. Some nights it was as if Jesus Himself was singing me to sleep.
“I want you to know I’d go to the ends of the earth for you. No undertow could make me let go. Forever, I’m bound to you. ‘Cause I’d walk through fire, I’d walk through pain. I’m already there when you call my name. I want you to know I’d go to the ends of the earth for you. I will be here beside you, always behind you. I could never deny you, I’ll love you for life. I’ll chase down the dark, tear through the night. I will stand up and fight, I will give you my life.”
That’s the kind of love Jesus has for me—for you. Nothing can separate us from Him. He is already there when we call His name. He fights for us. He gave His life for us.
“Fight On Fighter” by For King & Country
This song begins with suffering, but when it took root in my soul, I was finally in a place where I was ready to be brave and hope. Verse two made its home in my mind, and there it stays, rent free.
“There’s a power that you hold, that you lock down. Let it breathe, give it wings, set it free now. Time to make your mark, break the prison bars. Show them who you are.”
Once you embrace your emotions, once you identify them and let yourself feel them, you can’t go back to locking them up. They are part of who you are, of how you connect to God and others.Once you embrace your emotions, identify them and let yourself feel them, you can’t go back to locking them up. They are part of who you are, of how you connect to God and others. Click To Tweet
Grief. Compassion. Love. They all hurt sometimes, but when we don’t process them with God, they can turn into anger, bitterness, and fear.
Fight on. God fights with you. He fights for you. In the end you’ll come out stronger.
When We Don’t Have Words
Just as you can read through the Psalms and the psalmists’ prayers and lamentations can become your own when you have no words for your pain, music can do the same.
That was a hard lesson for me to learn. Music put boldly before me things I wanted to lock away and ignore, but when it came down to it music became my lifeline to God.
In his song To All The Poets (All The Poets | Andrew Peterson | Lyric Video – YouTube) Andrew Peterson sings this:
“You’re the ones who stayed to write the prayers when every prayer had been prayed.”
When you have no more words for God. When even the anguished prayers of, “Make it stop!” grow silent, there is a song out there for you. A song that will speak the words of your heart and point you to the God who can soothe your hurting soul. Because it’s not the song that brings healing, it’s Him.