Sunday, November 3, 2013

and you don't know why

i lack organization skills and i have a terrible logical flow.
so i'm going to split this post into two stories that come to one conclusion about my generation and society at large.
i hope that's alright.

A. last night, i had the incredible privilege to see five bands play that i know and respect on a college campus. they were all very talented in their own right, and i enjoyed them immensely.
the highlight of the night for me, though, was listening to my long-time favorite, night beds.

winston yellen sauntered onto the stage and my anticipation grew. he was obviously nervous (and slightly intoxicated) but as soon as he began to sing, that didn't matter. there is a vulnerability and a power to yellen's music that is almost prayer-like. his rhythms tend to be deeply rooted .if his music could lean into any genres it would be old-style country or jazz. that said, there is something intensely spiritual and introspective about his work, regardless of his broken worldview.

so he's up there, singing us soft songs about love and darkness and isolation. the words are piercing and relatable. i took a look around me, and the majority of the students there had blank expressions on their faces and looked like could not care less. stuff like that slays me.

B. last week, i was driving home to open for my largest musical inspiration (courtney marie andrews).  i was obviously nervous (but not intoxicated...just didn't want that parallel to yellin to cause any confusion) so i listened to the radio all the way to chattanooga. i generally stick to npr, the classical station, or oldies when i do turn on my radio. but this time, i just put on the "mainstream" music.

it was almost incredible to me that, song after song, what was being expressed (under a disguise of whiny voices and identical musical structures) was always apathy and despair and a longing for sexual satisfaction. those things all go hand-in-hand. those kinds of emptinesses (that's probably not a word) all point to Christ. and no one can see that. stuff like that slays me.

both of these stories are stark pictures of my generation (and society at large). we are a generation that suffers from intense isolation (due to whatever thing you want to blame it on) and a loose understanding of love and friendship. we are afraid to care about anything (like the students i mentioned) because we are afraid of being rejected from our peer group and becoming an unloved outcast. we are afraid to care about soulful things because we know that if we look long enough, we will see our weaknesses. we are afraid to be sober because we know that, in an a state aware of pain, we will be sad. we are afraid to be alone, but also afraid to be committed to loving someone else. we are afraid to do all these things. so we become sketch-like renditions of humans with hearts instead of the real deal.

the saddest thing about all of this, is that none of it is new. we are living in an ecclesiastical world where everything, even my life or your life, is a vapor. and when we live without the empowering love of Christ and the enabling grace of God and the inspiring fire of the Holy Spirit, it is indeed a vapid life.

the most joyous thing about all of this, is that we don't have to be apathetic and despondent. we have the choice (what a beautiful word) to commit to something real. it is a scary choice, so scary that many turn away from it, but it is the best one.

the lyrics to one song by night beds are:

when the sorrow comes,
and you don't know why,

come into my arms.
i'll hold you through the night.
and in the morning light,
we'll be sure to find
a kind of love so strong
it will make us cry faithful heights.

i know you get lost sometimes, man
i know you get lost.
i know you get lost sometimes, man
i know you get lost.
whenever you get lost, man
whenever you get lost, man
whenever you get lost, man
whenever you get lost 

hold my hand.

yellen usually performs this song without music. his voice rises up like a plaintive prayer.
this song is like what Jesus calls out to us. He assures us that when the sorrow comes and we don't know why, He alone is the one to hold us. He leads us to a powerful love. He brings us to our knees.

but until you or i or anyone else acknowledges that He is there and He is love and He is all,

we are lost.

don't choose to live a small, a frightened, and an aimless life, there is so much in this world (and infinitely more in the spiritual world) to actually care about.


  1. "we are afraid to be alone, but also afraid to be committed to loving someone else."

    That especially hits me for some reason. Thanks for sharing. This was beautiful!

  2. Thank you Emily. This expresses so much of what I feel about what I see, and confirms the truth to others. thank you for telling it.