For someone who likes nothing better than dancing for hours as a mental reset, I cannot hold a tune in a bucket. Yet, aurally and kinesthetically, music, lyrics and rhythm all combine in such a way to inspire, settle, open and soften my often too-barricaded heart.
Like most of us, music forms a soundtrack to my memories, actions and reactions. Dancing and singing for hours to Abba as a kid. Mooning over Mark O’Toole and Bono. Sobbing into my pillow as a confused prepubescent to John Waite Missing You, wounded by my favoured boy dancing with the taller, prettier girl at the school barn dance (barn dance, seriously?!) The heart-galloping slow dance at the school disco (finally, a disco) to Frankie’s ‘The Power of Love’.
Fifteen, and spreading my wings with edgier, older, and way-more unsuitable suitors. U2 edged out by Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac, Springsteen’s denim derriere and Thunder Road. Leaving school, and drag-racing motorbikes to a mix of Foreigner, Def Leppard, Queensrych and Rush. 80s big hair and shoulder pads replaced with black biker jackets and torn jeans. Moving to Ireland and coming full circle to U2 again, and adding in The Band and Van The Man.
Then it all went quiet
Somehow, in my new-age, yogic befuddled wanderings, I allowed music to escape my life. The only reason I can imagine was in my misguided striving for non-attachment I secluded myself from anything that made me feel too much. Overlay a brush with depression and I’d numbed just enough to forget how important music and lyrics are to my soul.
God hadn’t. Waking me with Jennifer Warnes’ at 3am, over and over. Tugging on my heart and head so I listened. As I journeyed to faith and church, it was the lyrics in the hymns that first snuck into my heart. As my head wrestled and resisted, it was the worship words and chords that buried in and kept whispering on a relentless loop.
Another soundtrack to life began unfolding. Every moment He calls me for growth, there seems to be a new song, a new lyric. I have learnt to listen.
“Darling, don’t be afraid…I have loved you for a thousand years, I will love you for a thousand more” shoved into my head relentlessly in the weeks after my Mum died. At the time, still new age and seeking, I put it down to a lovely sign of comfort from her and ‘the beyond’. Now, looking back, God was using grief and suffering as a megaphone. I just hadn’t quite accepted the frequency.
“Won’t you let me hold you, I just want to hold you, like Bernadette would do” waking me at 3am over and over during that life-altering Easter weekend.
During the Christianity Explored course, Good Charlotte’s Right Where I Belong suddenly resonated, even though I had listened to the Cardiology album for years without noticing the song.
Standing in church and the lyric ‘my Jesus’ in Man of Sorrows having such personal impact that I couldn’t sing for the tears that clogged my throat.
Even the timing of U2’s newest album made me smile. The band that had formed the soundtrack to much of my teenage rebellion appeared free in my iTunes and sang A Song For Someone to my cautious Christian heart.
Before Christmas, weakened at a cross-roads of marital pain and relationship growth, turning on the car radio to Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up and understanding the strength that truly backed me.
More recently, as I stepped carefully to forge a new path that blended work, life and faith, praying His will not mine, I would hear and see the lyrics of Oceans (Where Feet My Fail) almost everywhere. Shoved into my head to wake me at 3am (oh, there You go again), on Facebook banners until, finally, I downloaded the song as a reminder.
The hymns and lyrics of worship, the drumbeats that ask my heart to respond and my body to move, all point me to the personalised relationship that God seeks.
We all have our divine ‘love language’, I believe. Our own brand of ‘you-ness’ that God fingerprints as He knits us together, singing over us. Our own unique way of ‘getting’ Him.
Fearfully and wonderfully made, perhaps it lies dormant until the right lyric, the right melody, the right moment stirs our hearts.