Healing Thru Music--by LA Jamison
This time last year, I dealt with a depression that drove me to the awesome therapist I have today (Dr. Julian Diaz, shameless plug for him). It was a difficult period caused by a series of very traumatic circumstances all at once. I didn't think that would ever happen again. After all, spring and summer, who in the world, in the blessed country of America with the blessings I have could be sad or crushed about anything? If you have watched my Facebook page in June, I've been putting up a series of causes that if anyone of us soft Americans were in, we probably wouldn't last a day. I wish that was enough to keep one from sadness, but it is not because, in reality, we all have our crosses to bear.
Yet, despite the light of summer and people on either of the spectrum of material and physical blessings, when the shit hits the fan, none of that matters. We are human beings. Stress is stress whether you are wearing Niki tennis shoes or some off brand, whether you buy a new car every year or you've had the same car for 12. The only difference is the level of distractions and comforts and the amount of stress. It is probably why the poorest kids in the poorest countries have the biggest smiles because they have fewer distractions and get to what counts quicker than those with wealth. As Jesus said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for the wealthy to get to the Kingdom of heaven." So it is harder for us. Even though we live in poverty too in some sense, it doesn't compare to the poverty of those in Ethiopia or those living on the streets with no family.
The last month or so has been a series of stressors for me that has led up to pretty crushing week that has caused me to lose my game face. I'm done. Really just done. So having this week off is perfect timing. And that brings me to one way to travel from brokenness to healing and that is through music. It is not the only tool in my arsenal (by the way, what are your tools? you should have more than one) but I will show you how this is done or how I do it.
1. Pick a song or two that gives voice to your pain.
As the famous Elton John sang "Sad songs say so much!" For me, right now, it has all to do with rejection and dead end relationships, dead end paths. What is it for you right now? Please feel free to share in the comment section. It may be something different for you but I guarantee you know a song that sings about it and if you don't, you can find one. I mean even REM sings "Everybody Hurts" and that pretty much says it all. Music can break open the hardest of hearts and give us the voice we need to connect with the pain we are so afraid of tapping into on our own. We often don't know how to process the pain when it comes up. I know I don't, I'll push it down until I HAVE to deal with it. But music gives you a partner. A spirit. An angel. A fairy. A unicorn. Whatever you want to call it. Let music be your friend and therapist for a moment. It is like someone holding your heart when you need to be alone at the same time and that is hard to work out. For example, I picked two songs to voice my pain that I will share right here:
Adele's "Chasing Pavements"
This song talks about whether she should keep going or give up
"Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavement, even if it leads no where."
It is hard in a world where everyone likes to puff their chest out that they "know" this and that, and try to pose that they and what they do is just the cat's meow...when that isn't how you experience it. (little secret, they aren't experiencing that either rather it's the posture we put on for a little-big thing call pride). Truth is we all live most of our lives in that very uncomfortable intersection called the corner of I Know and I Don't Know. And sometimes, you just need to sing about it. Doesn't matter how you think you sound. Get your by yourself and sing the damn song! NOW, not later, whatever the song is for you. What are you waiting for? Here are some examples:
A second song and probably most impacting to me right now is a song you probably haven't heard. It was featured on the show the Voice. It speaks about trying to get back all the love you have given out into the world that, in this moment, feels like wasted love. In a world that largely uses people in the most manipulating ways (even seemingly so kind ways), for people with big hearts who truly care...it's a mighty difficult world system to live in. The love you give out is rarely returned and sometimes you feel wasted. I feel wasted. Spent. Sometimes you work and give and there's just nothing left as people nod and take and take.
Part of the lyrics goes:
Has anybody seen all my wasted love?
I've been down every street, no, I won't give up
If I have to die trying to justify, that's how it's gonna be
Has anybody seen all my wasted love?
2. Pick some songs that speak not just of the pain, but to the pain
We just got to looking at songs that will give your pain its voice, it's time on stage. We aren't going to dismiss that pain from the stage but now come around it, keeping it front and center and begin to heal it.
For me, that is worship music without a doubt. Don't hesitate to listen to these: These aren't to evangelize you and have more to do with love than religion per say though there are those themes. Worship music may not be your go-to choice. You might do better with something meditative, lyrical, an anthem ..whatever!
And just a note to those in my own faith: people have used the name of "Jesus' like it's just supposed to be magic by saying the words. Like Jesus is a Genie. I Dream of Jesus! Just say the word three times and you get whatever you wish! You are fooling yourself and making the faith appear like a lottery win. You need to go deeper. The emphasis on "the name of Jesus" is not about worshipping nice sounding letters and oversimplifications. It actually refers to the character of Jesus so to really get the benefit of any songs using that use that phrase, you go much deeper when you think of the nature and character of Jesus. Whether you believe him to be Divine or not, his character speaks volumes counter to his culture, which is something we can all identify with. And the character of Jesus was about love, acceptance, justice, mercy and helping the broken hearted and abandoned.
These are all exclusively Hillsong music. I believe they will blow your mind as nothing you ever heard worship music wise, IF you have never heard of them before.
First one, is Rule--This talks about "love casting out all fear" and "the light we see is Jesus" and "the air we breath is freedom" and "Love rules the atmosphere". Love is something I needed to tap into today, what about you?
Next is Captain--This one talks about going in a new direction in a real refreshing way.
Probably the most poignant lyrics of the next song are these, not to mention the chorus of course:
When the mountains fall
And the tempest roars You are with me
When creation folds
Still my soul will soar on Your mercy
I'll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I'll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace
And then...then my friends, after that powerhouse, let's top that off with a Relentless LOVE!! Love this song. See, so start building up on songs of hope and excitement now.
And then just keep going now...higher...you've faced a lot of crap, time to get ruthlessly wild with the love and hope you have been denying yourself, and replace all those negative words with good ones. Who said God has to be boring!?! Dance!
And that my friends is how you do it! Find your own music. For me, when people fail me and I fail myself, I know God is reminding me that my faith isn't to be in people so I need to get back to connecting with God. And boy does that take me forever and a day to get there...even still! You can use this same pattern with entirely different music but try the same pattern. There's other things you will have to do, but you know this. Let music be a good start:
1. Find Music That Gives Voice To Speak To Your Hurt
2. Find Music That Speaks TO The Hurt
3. Top It Off With Music That Makes You Want To Dance Your Shorts Off