The Music of the Soul

Music matters muchly.

Let me state first that muchly is, in fact, a word. It’s a double adverb since much counts as an adverb and the suffix -ly creates adverbs. Double the trouble. So hush.

Music changes my physiology; it makes me feel different.

In my new book, tentatively titled “The Song in My Story” is about how profoundly music impacted my journey through chemical dependency and trauma recovery. The songs I profile played a significant role along the way. And, surprisingly, they are the only songs that did.

There was a time when the only song I listened to was “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North. And I mean the ONLY song.

I first noticed the song – although I’m certain I first heard it long before noticing it – when I was in New York City on a mission trip with a bunch of young’uns. The trip took place in early July 2014. The opening chapter of my book tells the story:

During our trip to New York City in 2014, we drove 15-passenger vans with our kids to the various work sites. One morning I was trying to find a street-side parking spot for my huge van, after which I would catch up with my group of kids. I heard the opening bars of Tenth Avenue North’s “Worn,” and the piano caught my attention first. Then I heard these words:

I’m tired. I’m worn. My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing…

I’ve made mistakes.
I’ve let my hope fail.
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world.

And I lost my shit right there in that huge van on a busy NYC street.

My marriage was falling apart. I’d hated my husband with an intensity it’s difficult to describe for 17 months by then. I couldn’t look at him and see the boy I’d met and married, nor could I see the father of my children. All I could see was the man who’d spent 29 years letting pornography shape his life.

In January of 2013, my husband and I went to San Francisco to celebrate our wedding anniversary. While there, he took me to a club catering to those with sexual fetishes and fantasies. What happened there was horrifying to me. The next morning I was standing at the window of our hotel. Though I’d had plenty to drink the night before, I felt no ill effects and unfortunately remembered everything that had taken place the night before. The images and flashbacks from that night haunted me for a great many months.

When my husband woke, he joined me at the window and hugged me sweetly. In an emotion-choked voice, he whispered in my ear words that should have made my heart melt: “You are the best wife ever.” Instead, everything I’d ever felt for him died and a raging hatred I couldn’t understand or control filled my heart. After all I’d done to be a good wife and mother, daughter and friend, it was the most shameful acts of my life that tipped the scale for him.

Weeks later, I talked about my marriage in therapy for the first time. By that time I’d been seeing my therapist on and off for ten years. After discussing why it took so long to talk about it, we talked about what to do with those hateful feelings I couldn’t control. Her advice? “Love is a choice. Love him anyways.”

I thought I could. I thought I was strong enough to make it not matter. I thought we would journey through this valley to something more peaceful.

But we couldn’t.

An addict is never satisfied. He always wants and needs more stimulation to achieve the same “highs” and my husband was no exception.

“Worn” captured my heart and my spirit. Crying there on the NYC streets, I felt Holy Spirit whispering to me. There in the ragged voice of the lead vocalist. There in the lyrics that let me know I was not alone. There in those clean and sweet piano chords.  This is a heartsong and this man believes what he’s saying. I trust him. God can and will give us rest.  Redemption does win and the struggles end. Broken hearts are mended.  A song will rise from the ashes of this broken life.

My favorite lines appear near the end of the song:  “I’m worn.  My prayers are wearing thin.  Yeah, I’m worn even before the day begins.  Yeah, I’m worn.  I’ve lost my will to fight.  I’m worn so, heaven, come and flood my eyes.”

I finally parked that massive van. But I didn’t leave right away to go meet my kids. I listened all the way through. Then I found the song on YouTube and listened again. I even looked up the lyrics. And I cried.

Before I got out of the van I texted the link to my husband. “Please listen,” I asked. “This is what my life feels like.”

He didn’t respond to me, but I later discovered he had forwarded my message and the song to his lover, my former friend. I read a conversation they had about it on their secret WhatsApp message board. She suggested that I was only using my mental health issues as a way to stay married to him. In that conversation, I saw my husband seeing me with open eyes and I saw my friend convince him to the contrary. I’m grateful that I saw the 252 pages of text messaging between them from those final months of my marriage. I cannot ever forget the words they said, but I can see what happened and why my marriage failed so explosively.

Let to our own devices, my husband would have cycled through those dark days. I know we would have; we’d done it before. But we had been on different paths for years – maybe since the beginning. As I spiraled ever closer to the One who made me, my husband chose other things. Instead, I continued my journey. My song is rising from the ashes of a broken life, and I find myself infinitely grateful for everything it took to free me for this beautiful life.

As far as the book is concerned, I don’t think I’ll reveal the entire list of songs until I have permission to use the lyrics in my book. I’m hoping I can include a CD of my Recovery Playlist in my book or digitally, too. Wouldn’t it be cool to read the words and look at my art while hearing the actual music? Pray for this! If it doesn’t work, there’s always YouTube.

Source: Fierce Recovery

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