Beyond music and lyrics, all albums (even the amazing ones) have one thing in common; they all have that one ugly song. I know, I know, it’s not very nice of me or refined to label art as “ugly”. The truth about art is that it’s entirely subjective and therefore can't be objectively ugly. But, I have a sneaking suspicion that if a group of strangers huddled in a dark room to discuss this issue (maybe in hushed tones), they’d all agree on the “ugly song theory”: that every album has an ugly song quota that must be met…and it’s one.
I have the Bethel CD, “You Make Me Brave”. I’ve had it for a while and it’s sooo good; one of my absolute favorites (at least for right now…until I find my next favorite album). This CD lives in my car. It’s where I listen to it ALL the time. My kids no longer enjoy it and Christian (my nearly 10 year old son) begs for “anything but Brave!”. But I’m unmoved (90ish% of the time), because I just love this album, plus I’m in charge; It’s my car and I’m in the driver’s seat…Gosh Darn it!
Side note: I had a thought the other day in relation to my kids not loving the same music I do. It dawned on me that it’s entirely possible that I’m completely and utterly out of touch. I’ve rejected all of their irritating accusations that I’m “old”. I’ve jumped up on chairs and made stirring speeches about my youthfulness and “cool” factor. Through most of my 20’s my heart and mind were convinced I was still 17. Now in my 30’s, I’m clinging to 28! But I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve become that parent who plays her music while her kids roll their eyes and think to themselves, “We’re being subjected to mom’s old fart music”. Anyway, back to my album, “You Make Me Brave”…
For months and months I’ve known definitively which song was the ugly one of the bunch. The tone is very gloomy; it sounds flat with all minor notes plus the lyrics are whiny and pathetic. Each line, needier and more dismal than the last, “What can I do for you, what can I bring to you, what kind of song would you like me to sing. Cause I’ll dance a dance for you, pour out my love for you, what can I do for you beautiful king? Cause I can’t thank you enough…”
Each time I heard it I felt lowly and icky, like I’d just subjected myself to a sermon on the value of self deprecation. But since I LOVE Bethel music, I tried extra hard to appreciate it. I really, really tried but I just couldn’t get there. My next and more realistic goal became just enduring it. By the second minute of that song, it might as well have been finger nails on printer paper (am I only weirdo who feels disturbed by that??); it made all those bitty hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. Eventually I just started skipping over it.
Then about a month ago, on a very average day, I missed my cue. That spot where I would have normally jumped to the next song; it jogged right past me. I probably chatted with my kids or did a little scolding (some front seat yelling), and as I turned my attention back to my music, a song I’d never heard before was playing. The tune was nice but the words…they were everything. The world stopped turning for just a minute…the noise of the highway; the passing cars, the road and motherhood all hung in suspended animation. All I could hear was God singing to me. He sang, “You don’t have to do a thing. Simply be with me and let those things go. They can wait another minute. Wait, this moment is so sweet. Please stay here with me and love on me a little longer. Cause I’m in love with you…”
As I skipped back to hear the song a second time I discovered something hugely unexpected. The ugly song wasn’t all I thought it was. If I’d just forced myself to endure the icky, lowly bits for 3 or so minutes I would have heard the second half of the song; the part where God responds to the sad, self deprecated sniveling…with his peace.
The layers of symbolism are so fantastically profound! I’ve sung my own ugly song (similar words, different tune) thousands of times. I think we all do. We sing our lowly, miserable songs in our most beautiful voices. Praise and adoration gush heavily; as we bow ourselves as (emotionally) low as we can; face in the dirt; ogling our muck and filth and then we choke on our shame. On and on and on we sing our flat, minor notes because God is so big and we are so little, because God is so pure and we are so icky. We feel so unworthy and undeserving to have received so much in exchange for so little. It doesn’t feel right or fair. God’s kindness is very, very hard to accept.
God just listens and waits. When we’re done singing his response is ALWAYS the same, “You don’t have to do a thing. Simply be with me and let those things go. They can wait another minute. Wait, this moment is so sweet. Please stay here with me and love on me a little longer. Cause I’m in love with you…”
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.