For every cheesy pop song ever written that half-hazardly utilizes the word “love”, I’m sure there are three more songs that genuinely come from the heart. Not the heart of culture, where we’re on a constant quest for satisfaction in this form of “love” we’ve created. It comes from the actual heart of the artist, where there is genuine emotion that isn’t always lovely.
Those are the beautiful songs. Not the songs about seeing somebody you’ve never met before and handing them your phone number, but the songs that ask the questions about life that we need to ask. There is beauty in the songs that are sad, because they connect with the parts of our hearts that are sad. Sometimes, it’s the songs that connect to the parts of our hearts that are angry that mean the most to us.
Good songs reflect life. It’s why we have continued to make music over the years.
One of my favorite bands is the immensely depressing Manchester Orchestra. They connect perfectly with the part of the heart that doesn’t understand this world. There is sadness, questioning, and yes, even anger in their music, and it’s all beautiful. There is one lyric in particular that I can’t get over, though, because it connects too closely to home.
“Cause a disaster’s a disaster, no matter what Christian language you drag it through.”
That’s the part of my heart I don’t like to talk about. Anger and doubt are the things we’re not supposed to talk about. It’s easy to be open about the love I have for my friends, family, and home. It’s harder to talk about how my friends, family, and home all hurt or frustrate me and I don’t understand why. The hurt is hard to swallow; hard to rationalize. I don’t understand the uncertainty in the future for a family where the father has just lost his job of 30 years. I don’t understand why a little girl in Ontario was hit by a truck because the driver wasn’t paying attention. I don’t understand why a guy I spent a summer working with killed himself one day.
These hurts are the things that linger. They stay in my heart, just as everyone has burdens that stay in their hearts. They are disasters. Yes, as a Christian, there are beautiful truths of salvation and being adopted into the family of a Father who holds the universe in His hand. But they are disasters. Even with the beautiful truths that exist, disasters are still disasters. Sucky things still suck. Hurt is still hurt.
But I firmly believe that we aren’t the only ones who hurt. I firmly believe that compassion and empathy are things we have because God Himself has compassion and empathy towards us. I firmly believe that when we hurt for those around us, it is because God hurts for his children as well.
I frequently marvel at that tiny verse in John’s Gospel where Jesus Christ, God on earth with men, was so deeply connected with his fully human nature that he wept. His heart hurt for the family of his dear friend Lazarus, and he wept. He knew how a disaster felt, and He took the time to recognize that.
However, He didn’t stay there. He kept going, knowing that there was more to come. That “more to come” would end up meaning a painful and disgraceful execution, but He continued. He didn’t flee when the stress was so much He sweated blood. He continued, knowing that all of it was for the benefit of us, His beautiful disasters.
Life doesn’t always feel as wonderful as pop stars make it sound, but it always continues. There are disasters all around us; disasters we may never understand, but we all have to go through. Through the uncertainty of what lies ahead, life continues. And through it all, we can all show compassion to those around us who are going through them, knowing that we have been there too, and we will carry on.
When the future seems terrifying, life goes on, and on, and on. When situations seem bleak, life goes on, and on, and on. When we feel completely alone, we can know that there is One who loves us and understands the pain, and He makes sure that life goes on, and on, and on.
Right now I may be nothing more than a boy and his blog, but the beauty of life is that it doesn’t just stop there. It never just stops there.