There have been moments in my life that I cannot conjure the right words to describe them, no matter how hard I try. Moments of complete loneliness, or anger, or envy. There have been moments that I cannot explain the joy I feel in my heart; how fast it beats when I am in the midst of hope, and trust, and love.
Despite the lack of words I can find for these feelings, they evoke my clearest memories. A faint smell of perfume, the texture of grass, the way the sunlight reflects off a window; these are all portals back to another time, another place. Back to a day of wordless, significant emotions.
Stronger than any other catalyst of memory are the beginning chords of a song. A guitar strum sends me back to those fleeting moments, and within them comes an overbearing sense of peace. But why?
“Why?” was a question I used to ask frequently, usually pertaining to some struggle I was facing in my life. Why are girls so mean? Why am I always the one singled out? Why are they ignoring me? Why can’t I seem to do anything right? Why, why, why?
In the swell of my self-internalized struggles, I would sit in my room alone in the middle of the night and listen to music, and I wouldn’t need to know the answer to “why?” I would sing along, carefree, and I would feel calm.
The songs that played repeatedly during my teenage years will always bring me back to that feeling of calm because within the notes and lyrics I found a safe spot. I found a place of refuge from the war-zone that was high school.
When I was seventeen, and life started to become more daunting with every passing day, I never would have acknowledged that it was God speaking to me through the only thing I took solace in—music. I was trying so hard to stand on my own, tossing my savior on the back burner and only coming to Him with scarce, desperate prayers whispered into my pillow. I would drag my heart, that so desperately needed to change, through the mud day in and day out, and I convinced myself that one day, when I graduated and just got out of there, I would be okay. I told myself it wasn’t anything I was doing; it was just my circumstance.
I kept listening to my music, but I was refusing to listen to God.
In some ways, graduation did help me. It removed me from my circumstance and handed over an abundance of free time. I was writing, and socializing, and listening to music without the reason that it needed to make me feel better. For the first time in a long time, I was content. I wasn’t wrapped in anxiety from the moment I woke up, and I was feeling confident. The first month was bliss, then, on June 13,, 2016, Cloud Nine threw me back to the ground.
I still remember where I was standing when I heard the news about my grandpa. I was right in front of the refrigerator in my kitchen, holding on to my phone that was plugged into the outlet in the counter. The words, “brain tumor,” leaked through the speaker and I don’t remember hearing anything else; I was distraught. What was this? What was happening? Why can’t I stop shaking?
I was back to asking, “Why?”
It wasn’t until I received a text message from a friend that night that I even took a conscious breath. It wasn’t until 3AM that I lay, motionless on a mattress on my bedroom floor, and begged God to not take my grandpa from me. It wasn’t until the next day, blasting music through my car speakers after hours and hours at the hospital, that I noticed that familiar sense of calm, and I associated it with God.
That was the first day I decided to listen to the music and to God. That was the first time in a long time that I gave Him the credit for the unexplainable peace in my heart.
Since that day, I’m constantly feeling His presence when I’m listening to music. I know that every chord is ultimately His creation, and I know that He has chosen to comfort me this way.
Everyone goes through seasons of doubt, seasons that test your faith more than you could ever imagine, but God has a way of reminding you of His love at the moment you need it the most. After all the time I had spent pushing Him away in high school, He reached out for me when I called for Him. And when I did, He showed me that He was there the whole time.
One year ago my heart needed some re-working, and it always will, but in the days that have passed, I have learned to listen. I have learned to listen when God puts something on my mind and in my heart. He has proven, time and time again, that he’ll always be there with me, even when my ears might be closed. He knows that I’ll hear Him eventually.
Tomorrow, a day that flipped me over and turned me inside out last year, I will thank Him for the struggles. I will thank Him for never giving up on me. I will thank Him for keeping Papa with us. I will thank Him for his unending, glorious love.
I will thank Him forever for my ability to listen.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’” Jeremiah 29:11-13