The longer I live, the more I become aware of how little I know. Although I’ve never admitted it aloud, I’m fairly certain I used to be quite comfortable in my lack of knowledge, confident that I had a grasp on at least most of what I needed to know to get through life. Not so anymore!
Don’t get me wrong. There are some things I’m quite content not to know. I don’t know the square root of 568,783.43, nor do I know how to bake a spinach and goat cheese soufflé… or even how to spell “soufflé.” I had to google it before I could post this.
When I began writing for my new record, I was astounded by how little I knew. Where should I start? With all the new musical directions emerging these days, what should it sound like? Should it be light and fluffy? Should it be dark and heavy? Or perhaps a combination of the two? The one thing I knew for certain was that I had a lot to say. The “unknown” that scared me the most was that I did not know whether I could say it well, or if I had permission to say it at all.
These days, a good bit of the music I hear leaves me wanting more. The “dark” songs are very sad and hopeless. The more positive music often seem so polite. Of course, there is room for it all; I just had a different vision for my direction. I wanted my new songs to be honest, even when it meant being dark, but to color the darkness with hope, because I believe hope is real and never far away.
I can imagine what you might be thinking right now. Introspective singer/songwriter types tend to take themselves way too seriously, be ridiculously over-analytical, and think that their art carries much more weight than it does. Right you are! Though I am more than guilty as charged, I think there was more to the over-thinking and self-induced pressure this time.
Over the past several years, I have come away from every one of my concerts having heard at least one heavy, harrowing story. And usually it hasn’t been just one. Cancer. Heartbreak. Financial ruin. Addiction. Depression. And in my own corner of the world, the same struggles abound. Life is hard. And heavy. Messy. Even lonely. (Aren’t you glad you’re reading this?)
It seems to me we could all use some encouragement for the journey—the good news that we’re not alone and that there is indeed hope. I know music can be a great way to escape from one’s dark day, but I also think it can invite us to face and even embrace each moment in a way that no other medium can. With that in mind, I wrote about the dark days and the doubt,. I also wrote about how wholeness can be found in the brokenness and doubt can be replaced by wonder. I wrote about stumbling through life, and the loving God who wants to break our fall and lift us up again. And I wrote about the wonderfully fulfilling act of laying our weapons down.
I don’t know if I’ve said too much or been too vulnerable in the new music. I don’t know if I have arrived at the perfect combination of light and fluffy and dark and heavy. I still don’t know whether I actually have permission to speak at all. But I can tell you for sure that the new songs are full of the truth I do know…truth that helps me keep going and keep singing even when life is hard. My prayer is that you will hear it, and it will help you on your journey as well.
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