Meaningful Music Monday

 Disclaimer: I realize that this post is “Meaningful Music Monday,” and that it is, in fact, Tuesday. I worked on this post for much of Sunday evening and Monday morning, and then I got hit with a migraine headache like I have not had in YEARS and spent the rest of my day in bed. I sincerely appreciate your understanding! Now, on to the post!

There are three things you need to know before you read this.

One, music is one of the things that I firmly believe that I could not live without. 

Two, I both write words and listen to music, to manage my anxiety disorders and depression. I’ve struggled with them both my entire life.

Three, in my world, almost no genre of music is off-limits. If the lyrics, or simply the musical rhythms behind the lyrics speak to my heart, say what I want to say, or cause me to find healing somehow, then it’s on my playlist. I have everything from classical (think Motzart), to heavy metal, to country, to Christian, to rap and hip hop on my favorite playlist.

I feel that there are at least two meanings to every song. The one that the writer intended it to have, based on what they were going through/thinking/feeling/ etc. when they wrote it; the actual, literal meaning. And the ones of the people who hear the song. The same song can mean different things to different people, based on their life experiences and what they were going through/thinking/feeling/etc., when they heard it for the first time.

As I think about the concept of the “first time,” I think about how you can hear a song many times, have every word memorized even, and then at a certain point in your life, you HEAR it for the first time. My husband and I were recently listening to our music streaming service, and a particular sappy love song came on. It was a song that I have been listening to since I was in middle school. If I remember correctly, it was “I Cross My Heart,” sung by George Straight. I recounted how that song would play at the skating rink on Friday night, and I would “couple skate” with my little boyfriend, and sing that song, and think I JUST KNEW what it meant. I roll my eyes at myself, even now, as I type this, at almost forty years old and nearly half of my life married to THIS man, I feel like I have HEARD that song for the first time again, and this time…I KNOW what the words mean. I’ve lived enough life to have LIVED it. It talks of enduring, unconditional love, commitment, living life together, getting beat up, fighting with and for each other, and “making it,” so to speak. My 14-year-old self did not have a clue!

Music is a lifeline. It has a way of feeding my soul in a way that almost nothing else can. Turning on a worship song, and meditating on the music and message, has gotten me through more dark-twisty nights than I very well care to count. I have a love/hate relationship with how music can take you right back to a specific place in time, with memories that are so vivid and powerful they can overwhelm your senses in the here and now.

Last year, after my major anxiety episode (read about that here), I was tired. I was tired mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Tired of the racing heart, never-ending racing thoughts, and the inability to catch my breath. Tired of the tingling that happens in my face, chest, and extremities. I was tired of being anxious. On the occasion that I was not feeling anxious, I was tired of the “waiting for the other shoe to fall” feeling that plagued me constantly.

For several days afterward, I was weak to the point of my husband having to help me out of bed and to the bathroom, dress, etc. I was exhausted to the point that I slept for most of that week; there is much that I don’t quite remember about it. Emotionally and spiritually, I felt completely and utterly empty.

Avril Lavigne co-wrote and recorded a song called “Head Above Water.” I believe it was written in 2015 and released on her album in 2018. It is the title track and one of the three singles for her sixth studio album. She wrote the song during her tumultuous battle for her health against Lyme Disease, and it tells of her struggle, both physically and mentally. Avril came to the point that she genuinely believed she was going to die, but instead found herself praying, “God, keep my head above the water,” it became the thing that she held on to; the thing that gave her hope enough to keep going. Not to mention it was the inspiration for the song/album.

I heard “Head Above Water” for the first time shortly after the “panic episode” mentioned above; while I was lying on my bed in the dark, fighting my anxiety one of the only ways I know how; listening to worship music and praying. I had been singing along with the song before it, so I know I was at least partially aware when the song started. Yet, still, those first two verses caught me off guard:

I’ve gotta keep the calm before the storm

I don’t want less; I don’t want more

Must bar the windows and the doors

To keep me safe, to keep me warm.”

Yeah, my life is what I’m fighting for

Can’t part the sea, can’t reach the shore

And my voice becomes the driving force

I won’t let this pull me overboard.”

Wait. What did that say?!?!

I started the song over. I needed to hear that again. This time, I listened much more intently “must bar the windows and the doors; to keep me safe, to keep me warm. Yeah, my life is what I’m fighting for,” and my eyes started to leak. And then…the chorus came:

God, keep my head above water

Don’t let me drown; it gets harder

I’ll meet you there at the altar

As I fall down to my knees

Don’t let me drown, drown, drown

Don’t let me, don’t let me drown.”

I heard that line, “God, keep my head above water. Don’t let me drown…” and I…I straight up lost it. That was precisely how I felt; like I was drowning. I was drowning, there was no person that could save me, and no matter how hard I kicked, I couldn’t break the surface. I was curled up in the fetal position on my bed, fighting for breath, bawling like a baby, and praying those words “God, I’m drowning. I’m going to drown in this mess of mental illness. I can’t hold myself up anymore. God, at least keep my head above the water so that I can see You. I can’t do this without You. Don’t let me drown.”

The rest of that evening and probably a few weeks after, I listened to that song repeatedly. All. Day. Long. I held on to it like it WAS my lifeline, and if I let it go, I would drown in the anxiety and depression, and it would win.

After a few days, the first two verses and the chorus weren’t standing out to me as much. It was the part where Avril sang:

And I can’t see in the stormy weather

I can’t seem to keep it all together

And I, I can’t swim the ocean like this forever

And I can’t breathe

God, keep my head above water

I lose my breath at the bottom

Come rescue me; I’ll be waiting

I’m too young to fall asleep.”

that spoke to my heart. I listened again. Again, I prayed the words as I sang them. “God, I lose my breath at the bottom of this anxiety, depression, and despair. Please, come, rescue me. I am waiting and ready. I’m too young to fall asleep. God, I don’t want this to kill me, so I need you to rescue me from it before it does.”

The thing I have come to realize (most of the time) is that these last verses are simply the truth. It’s true; I can’t see in the stormy weather. It is true that I, on my own, can’t keep anything (much less “all” things) together. I indeed can’t swim this ocean of anxiety and depression forever, and when I try, I can’t breathe. I need God to rescue me, teach me, and guide me daily! He frequently has to save me daily or even multiple times a day! When I see how God is working to use my life long struggles with anxiety and depression, it makes it seem worth it.

All of those dark days and nights were for a purpose. They were not a waste of years. They were so I can be right here today to tell you that God loves you and that He can, and will, keep your head above water no matter what you are facing. No matter if it is personal, financial, relational, emotional, mental, physical, etc., there is nothing that He can’t get you through. He requires only that you ask.

Here is the music video for “Head Above Water.” My prayer for you today is that even in the multitudes of your anxieties, that you allow God to comfort your soul. Psalm 94:19

~Forever In His Grip,

LB

The Hill I Am Willing to Die On

The crazy in our world seems to get worse, literally, every single day. If it’s not the forthcoming election here in the U.S., and the extreme nonsense that goes into that, it is the pandemic of COVID-19. If it’s not the pandemic, it’s things like “pizza-gate,” kids ‘disappearing,’ human trafficking, and sex slavery. (Side rant: Nearly half a million children are reported missing EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. In the U.S. alone! I’m sorry, folks, but 460,000 kids do NOT just vanish into thin air every year!) There are many days that it is entirely too much for my anxious, empathetic, sensitive heart, and I just have to “turn it off.”


“Operation Not Forgotten” was conducted by the U.S. Marshalls and several other law enforcement agencies recently. It was a two-week operation to find and rescue missing children. There were thirty-nine children rescued during those two weeks. THIRTY-NINE. CHILDREN. (CBS.com) (CNN.com) (Foxnews.com)


I keep hearing and seeing things about “sexual attraction to children,” AKA PEDOPHILIA, being just a ‘sexual orientation’ that ‘can’t be helped.’ I’m sure you’ve seen it, too, if you are on social media at all. I hope it’s not true, and they aren’t genuinely trying to make this a thing. I do, but at this point, nothing would surprise me. There is already a term whose intention it is to desensitize us to it; MAP. It stands for “Minor Attracted Person,” or “an adult person attracted to minors.” Really, people?!? I’m here to tell you that this is not okay.


I’m also here to tell you that I don’t care what the adult “feels,” it destroys a child. It breaks them. It makes them question everyone (even themselves) and everything. It often causes them to experience things like anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts/tendencies, etc. It CHANGES WHO THEY ARE because one is NEVER the same after this.


Like many of the abused, missing, and exploited children today, most of my trauma was caused by people close to me; parents, siblings, a so-called “friend,” and babysitter. I have been a victim of parental kidnapping paired with emotional and mental abuse by a parent. A family member has sexually assaulted me and a babysitter tried to. I have dealt with the consequences of their actions for my entire life. I plan to go into that more later on as I write out my story. The point is that I have been through what so many kids are currently going through, and I can’t “just turn it off” anymore. My anxious, empathetic, sensitive heart just won’t let me.


Neither will God. We have decided, God and I, that THIS is the hill on which I am willing to die. THIS is the thing for which I will fight. They do not have a voice of their own, so we (and I’m talking to myself here) need to step up and be their voice. Our children are an inheritance and a blessing from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3) They are NOT possessions. They are NOT for sale. Not for sex, not for parts, not for ANYTHING.


I don’t know how long it will take me, but I will be sharing more of my story. Please be kind. It is a long, hard story to tell, but I genuinely believe it can help someone. I feel personally led by God to share this aspect of my life, as I experienced it, and as I remember it. It has affected me for my entire life, and this is how I have survived.


As I have said before, other people are a part of my story, and it is impossible to tell my story without telling at least a portion of theirs. Much of my trauma happened twenty-five years ago. There has been justice served, time served, and healing happening in individuals and relationships. When I tell of things that I have experienced, please understand that it is not my intention to tear anyone else down, not even those who did what they did. I know that everything done in darkness will be revealed in the light. The only way that I, my family, and others, are truly going to defeat this evil is for us to own it, acknowledge it, learn from it, and DO DIFFERENTLY for the generations coming after us.


I am just a small town, Texas girl, who loves Jesus, believes that He has saved me, and wants me to use the mess of my trauma as a message of hope and love. The sincere hope and prayer of my heart are that if you read my story, you find the message of hope and keep fighting!


If you are currently experiencing any of these things; if you are a victim of human trafficking, sex slavery, parental kidnapping, abuse, assault, trauma, etc. my plea to you is this; keep fighting! Even if it’s just fighting to stay alive one more day, people are fighting for you!


If you have gotten out of/been rescued from any of these things and are learning who you are now (because you are NEVER, EVER the same after this), keep fighting. Keep fighting for your healing. Keep fighting for your future. Please know that it is not your fault. It is not okay. People are fighting for you!


If you are a kid who has or is experiencing ANY of the things I talked about, keep fighting. Keep telling grown-ups in your life until one of them listens. We are listening. We will not ignore this TRUE pandemic anymore. People are fighting for you!


Dear Ones, We have GOT to do better for our kids! This generation. My generation. My friends, siblings, cousins, etc. that experienced the things we did as kids, at the hands of the adults in our lives, We say NO MORE! NOT OUR KIDS and NEVER AGAIN! We have the power to stop this horrific pandemic of buying, selling, using, and abusing children!
It’s going to require that we get bold, though. It’s going to require that we decide that our children’s lives, health, and future are WORTH telling OUR stories. Worth bringing this demon out into the light, exposing it for what it is, and healing from it.


Ephesians 6:10-12 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
It is time to take a stand. We cannot ignore this silent epidemic any longer.


I will continue to use my blog platform to tell you of my story, struggles, wins, and losses with anxiety. However, I also plan to use it as a place of bringing awareness to this ever-growing pandemic of buying, selling, using, and abusing our children. Put on your armor! It is time for a fight!

~Forever In His Grip

LB