Thursday morning I was listening to some music while getting ready for my day. I love how a simple song can change your mood, make you dance, brighten your day or lead you to tears. A short melody played throughout a film can remind you of a specific character in the story or help to move ahead a plot line. For some songs it’s the words that make us feel something new, or remind us of our own lives. Other songs capture our hearts in a mysterious way through the instruments like the slow and soothing, resonating cello, or the magical sound of the sitar.
Yes, that’s right I said a sitar can be magical.
Drums of all kinds can create rhythms that seem to take you out of your body and right into the beat. Music can unlock something inside of us and release emotions we didn’t even know were there. While writing this I am jumping from one YouTube video to the next listening to the sitar sounds in the song “Kindle My Heart” from the beautiful movie, “A Little Princess”, professional Taiko drumming groups and Dave Grohl drum solos….I love music!! I get this desire from time to time to learn the drums and rock out, especially after watching a video of Dave Grohl on the drums. And then sometimes I just want to jump on my bed and jam to Taylor Swift!
But Thursday morning it was not about the drums. Or Taylor.
Thursday morning the song that gripped my heart was simple, just voice and piano…with lyrics I’d like to think were written just for me, at such a time as this.
The first two lines of this song are,
“Come out of hiding you’re safe here with Me. There’s no need to cover what I already see.”
Instantly I knew this song was for me. I didn’t even realize I was in hiding until listening to this song. The lyrics seemed to be unveiling the feelings that I couldn’t quite put to words. The song is like a lullaby being sung by a father to his beloved child, and like a small child I sat and soaked up each word.
“You’ve got your reasons, but I hold your peace. You’ve been on lockdown, and I hold the key.”
For some time here in Bangkok, I’ve been hiding out in the safety of my small apartment, down the small soi, in the far end of the city. I never meant to hide. I started off as an explorer, happy to see and be seen. But little by little, hurts accumulated and fears multiplied. What was first an exciting adventure in a new city soon became a terrifying path scaring me back inside, back home. It wasn’t that I didn’t try to face the fears…but with so many new things all at once I found myself holding onto my bed or couch as though they were the life rafts keeping my afloat.
So there I was, Thursday morning, sitting and listening to these lyrics, letting the pages of my heart unfold.
“I’ll be your lighthouse when you’re lost at sea. I will illuminate everything. No need to be frightened by intimacy. Just throw off your fear and come running to me.”
While I have never actually set foot in a lighthouse, the image is clear. Lost at sea and seeking for a guiding light to bring you home. For me, as someone who more frequently gets lost than she would like to admit, I can relate. While back in Canada a few months ago, I was driving to visit a friend who had just moved to a new place in Markham, Ontario. It was an area I was relatively familiar with, so I quickly jotted down the directions and headed out. But it was dark outside, and the street sign I was looking for was not well lit and so of course I missed it. The further I drove, the less street lights there were. I knew I had to turn around, but it was too late. I was at a cross roads, a strange dark intersection without signs or lights. I couldn’t even tell which way I was supposed to turn in order to get back around so I followed the pick-up truck in front of me who turned left. This led me to an even darker, narrower road leading into the middle of nowhere. Missing my husband who was back in Thailand, and feeling hungry and cold I kept driving, scanning the road for somewhere I could stop and turn around. It must have only been five minutes, but it felt like an eternity when I came up to a sign for a campsite with a driveway that would allow me to pull over safely and turn around. Driving back towards the strange intersection and lights of the city, I was excited to soon be indoors, out of the dark and cold. But most of all, I wanted a hug and to feel at home.
I am prone to tears. It doesn’t take much…sometimes just a sweet gesture from a friend, or an act of kindness in a movie. During this past season of hiding, I have been even more weepy than usual. You can imagine that this is not so fun, especially when trying to make new friends. I often felt like I need to come with a sign, “Beware, I am a weeper.” Crying is not a bad thing, but when it comes at inconvenient times in social situations, it can feel a bit annoying. Because of this, I pulled back further from people, afraid I could spring a leak at any given moment should they ask the dreaded question, “How are you?” I love to be open with people and share my life with others, but in those moments when I just didn’t feel good, it was difficult. If I told people I was fine, it wasn’t convincing…my face hides nothing! And if I told people I wasn’t doing well, I would start to cry again. And I was tired of crying. Just like in the song, I felt frightened by intimacy.
The chorus of the song reveals who is speaking these words, or singing this lullaby.
“‘Cause I loved you before you knew what was love. I saw it all, still I chose the cross. You were the one that I was thinking of, when I rose from the grave. Now rid of the shackles, My victory is yours. I tore the veil for you to come close. There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore. You’re not far from home.”
Our father God is singing this song over us. When we were just babies, He loved us and has not stopped loving us. He has seen all of our good and all of our bad, and He still chooses to love and forgive us. Our father God took victory over death and then shared that with us and gave us full access to complete closeness with Him!
Just think of that one person you want to run home to and hug, or that feeling of being wrapped up and safe and warm in your bed. Maybe it was easier to find this at one time in your life, but feels far from you right now. I remember wrapping my arms around my mom when I was little and linking my fingers while promising to myself I would never let her go…I wanted her all to myself. I laugh now because my mom was getting ready at that time to go out to a dance class and first had to put me to sleep, but all I could think of was ways to sneak into her car so that I could go along with her instead of staying in my bed. Sometimes I find myself doing the same to my husband, holding onto him and wanting to never let go. Whatever brings you that feeling of peace and rest and complete reassurance…that can be found in the arms of God. It’s not that we shouldn’t be hugging our moms or our spouses, but at some point we realize that no person or thing can fulfill all those longings of our heart. No human can be our foundation. Only God. And my God is a firm foundation.
“Oh as you run, what hindered love, will only become part of the story.”
It was this point of the song that my eyes really welled up with tears.
I read the lyrics over and over again until I understood. I think this part of the song is about regret. It’s like we’re all children who have run away from home and acted foolishly or selfishly. We’ve wasted ourselves away and lost the way back home. But God shows us that there is a way back home and all those things we regret, all those things that got in the way of that perfect love, “become part of the story.” God’s love leaves no room for regret. God’s love is a full orchestra that washes over us and perfects the imperfect notes we tried to hide.
“You’re almost home now. Please don’t quit now. You’re almost home to Me.”
Here’s where the waterworks broke out. Joyful tears I must add.
I’ve been living in Bangkok for 1 year and 8 months and it’s become more of a home to me over time. And eventually when I come back to Toronto, it will be a home to me again. But neither of these homes will ever be able to bring the peace that I receive from dwelling in God. That might sound a bit odd, because it’s not a home with walls…but it’s amazing how when we find refuge in God, that safety, protection and peace goes with us everywhere. Sometimes when I’m feeling hurt or lost, I can close my eyes and just hang out with God. I also enjoy lying down in a field and looking up at the sky…it’s like a mind refresh.
At a number of times throughout this season I was tempted to quit. For me, quitting meant losing hope and giving up in my spirit…I thought that maybe if I just didn’t care anymore then the difficult things wouldn’t bother me. But God is faithful and for every thought of quitting I had, He helped steer me back to His goodness. Hiding out and becoming numb to the world or to our own feelings is a slow and sad death. God is calling us out of our hiding places and inviting us to live with Him in perfect peace and safety. His home is without walls, and can travel with us everywhere. It’s really more of a Kingdom.
A new favourite show of mine is “Jane the Virgin”. It is creative, fast-paced and hilarious! Each episode is narrated in a very melodramatic way, mimicking the style of the popular telenovelas (genre of latin american television show). I’ve always loved imagining my life being narrated, or the thought of my life as a TV show…each day a new episode. This show completely captures that feeling, so of course I love it!
On an episode I recently watched, the main character, Jane, is faced with a terrifying situation that requires her to be brave in the face of fear. She remembers the words to the theme song from a telenovela she watched as a child. This theme song had been drawn attention to by Jane’s abuela (grandmother) who pointed out that the lyrics clearly said that the main characters ended up happily ever after, so she need not worry about their fate. The Spanish lyrics cleverly play out in the background as Jane bravely faces her current terrifying situation. The translation, “She was strong. She was armed. She was fearless. She did whatever she had to do to get her true love back.”
What theme song do you have playing out in the background of your life? Have you been hiding out like me, in need of a brave new anthem to take you out of your comfort zone? My theme word for the year is “brave”, so don’t be surprised if the next time you see me I’ve got big curly red hair and a bow and arrow in hand…wouldn’t that be fun!
I’m excited to see each episode, each page of my life this year unfold.
Since starting to write this, I’ve already had moments that I felt tempted to hide out…but I’ve also had moments of brave exploration! I even discovered a hidden pond and garden that I shall pretend is my secret place. A place not far from home.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”