A Journey of Faith in Music (Playlist)
An idea popped into my head while listening to Chance the Rapper's new album on my way to work. His songs are a beautiful representation of the joy that often marks new believers in the honeymoon of their faith (interestingly mirrored by Chance's recent marriage as well). I started thinking about the journey I've been on from youthful zeal to questioning to deconstruction to now, where I'm rebuilding my faith while still struggling to heal.
By the time I walked into the office, I knew I had to chase the idea. So on my lunch break, I made a playlist of songs that have touched me in different stages of my faith. Here are ten songs to represent the journey – for every doubter who once was lost but now is found.
"Draw Near" by Jeremy Riddle
"Pull on the strings of my heart / for I long to respond to you."
This song takes me back to my college days where I experienced God's intimacy and accepted it wholeheartedly.
"Gone" by Kings Kaleidoscope
"I'm not what I seem / Only in this moment / Only in this moment / I'm holding on."
This represents the beginnings of my questioning at the end of college, where I was going through the motions and white-knuckling it through what I thought was a temporary season of "doubt."
"Clarity" by Andy Mineo
"Some days I feel like You love me / Some days I feel like You left me."
Ah, the post-college years. A full-on deconstruction of the theological and political values I grew up believing. As I challenged the framework and dissected my hurt, it bled into my image of God as well. I'm still recovering from this.
"Too Far Gone" by Sir Sly
"They always preached it was black and white / So how come somewhere in the middle feels right / Are we too far gone? / Can we ever be too far gone?"
Sir Sly was the first concert I went to when I moved to Austin after college. This song put the desperation of my questioning into words, especially the scariest question: Am I in the process of losing my faith altogether?
"If I Believe You" by The 1975
"I've got a God-shaped hole / That's infected / And I'm petrified of being alone now / It's pathetic, I know."
This longer song captures the lingering bitterness, resentment and fear of deconstruction. At times it feels easier to let go of faith altogether because the finality of it would bring relief. But I still felt the pull to stay in church and kept asking Jesus to show himself.
"Venus" by Sleeping At Last
"Astronomy in reverse / It was me who was discovered."
The first time I heard this song, I dissolved into tears because I felt God speaking into my fear. He wasn't hiding from me, waiting for me to trip up and fall away. He was seeking me and always has been. He is the one who finds us, not the other way around.
"Oxygen" by Kings Kaleidoscope
"I lose it all to find you now."
This song is the first deep breath after hope returns. Feeling the warmth of God's presence on my back again after cold, dark doubt.
"Town On The Hill" by Chance the Rapper
"Thank You, Father / Father / You really love me / You really love me."
Hearing these words on Chance's latest album felt like a reminder of the simple lessons I learned as child. Jesus loves me, this I know. It's so obvious, but as I let myself believe it again, it changes everything.
"Same Blood" by Kings Kaleidoscope
"You and I will change / But the blood is still the same."
As I look back at the awkward adolescence of my faith, I finally see God at work in all of it. I often feel like a stranger to myself, but he has always been good. It's also sweet how this song affirms that we need other believers on the journey with us, God guiding the whole process.
"Let Revival Come" by People & Songs
"Revive me / Revive me with the / Joy that You bring / Joy that You bring."
I decided to end the playlist with one of the few worship songs that I can sing these days without cringing. It's a song celebrating all God has done, and a prayer for continued healing. We sing it together at my church, and hope comes surging back in the sweet presence of the Lord.