“Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you? Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.”
Several weeks ago, in response to an exercise designed to help participants build up their top strengths identified through an assessment on the Authentic Happiness website, I asked my colleagues to identify the most beautiful music they have ever heard. One colleague noted that this varies with the season of life.
I have a similar response to today’s prompt asking me to list the three most important songs in my life. What I will list are three songs that are particularly meaningful to me in this season when I am making one of the most significant transitions of my life. These are “10,000 reasons” by Matt Redman, “Be still my soul,” a classic hymn (lyrics by Katharina A. von Schlegel), and “It is well,” written by Horatio Spafford, in the 1800s after a series of heart shattering losses that culminated in the death of his four daughters.
What do these three songs mean to me? They speak of trust and pain. They speak of continuing to trust through the pain. Although there is much that I do not understand. They speak of resolution and focus. They speak of a decision or is it several decisions? One of them is to see things as out of control of my human hands but not out of the control of His. The idea of not being in control can be scary if I consider that other humans have control. But how can I be scared if I believe all is in His hands, nothing is outside of His purview, and all His actions are motivated by love and complete knowledge? Getting to this place of trust is an ongoing process that seems to ebb and flow although I desire it to be constant. What helps trust? Knowledge. How does the knowledge come? With relationship. Relationship that grows in intimacy. A relationship in which time is invested. A relationship that is given priority. One that is nurtured and fed and one that also feeds and nurtures me. I think of the resolution that Matt Redman talks about in “10,000 reasons,” “Whatever may pass and whatever lives before me, let me singing when the evening comes.” When the evening comes…. The evening that is time based as well as the ones that are a metaphor for the dark moments of life. “Whatever may pass and whatever lives before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.” “He goes on to say, ‘Bless the Lord, o my soul, worship His holy Name, sing like never before…” My singing can be different because I know more about myself as a result of my experiences during this period of transition. I also know more about Him as a result of this transition. This knowledge is also reflected, I believe, in the hymn, “Be still my soul.” The instruction implies that there are things or something present that is causing turmoil or disquiet and has the power to do so. During these times, my soul can only be quiet if I know and truly believe that I am not facing whatever I am facing alone. It is also based on the knowledge that God is on my side. He is not angry with me, playing games, or the like. Regardless of what evidence it may appear supports such a perception. Coming along with the question of, “If He is on your side, why are all these things happening? Why does He not stop them?” Be still my soul. That is where trust in the evidence of His love. Acceptance of my limited human knowledge. Recognition that He is trustworthy and praise is due Him always. Is not be to held ransom by my demand that He explain Himself. Would I even understand if He did? Trust. Pain. Trust in pain. Trust through the pain. Ultimately, what I say in faith now, will be reality. “It is well with my soul.”