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In the Rearview Mirror

Song after song streamed from my phone to the stereo in the car. With each melody, I found myself transported to the emotional events of early summer. It was the season when I was in a full-court press to move out of my previous house. There was a sense of dread and urgency to finish the repairs for the sale, and then to vacate the home shared for more than a decade with my husband. The music I played during that time ebbed and flowed with my many different moods.

You see, the music app had generated a playlist highlighting my most-frequently streamed music of 2020. While listening to the songs that had made the cut, it took me on a sentimental review of the past year. Each song put me in the emotional space and time when the tune was played over and over. Topping the list were “To Where You Are” by Josh Groban and “If I Could Be Where You Are” by Enya. The content of these two songs spoke to the heart that longed to be spending time with my late husband. Instead, the broken heart was enduring the laborious work of sorting items and making minor repairs on a house that would soon belong to someone else. As I listened, the line between secular and sacred was lowered with each soul-stirring song, and God joined me on my drive.

The power of music to speak to my soul, and to the longing in my heart, is extraordinary. Even the secular songs have messages of hope and connection, to which I crave. Instrumental, pop music, oldies, contemporary Christian, and modern country all seem to evoke an emotional response for me. I have come to realize that there is an incarnation that happens when things of this world (the secular) become sacred because of what the Divine can do. It applies to music as well as other areas and situations. God is not just at church or in scripture or in the sacred writings. God sends the Holy Spirit into all aspects of day to day life making it divine. For me, God comes alongside wherever I go, whomever I am with, and in whatever I seem to be doing. It should be no surprise that God rides in the car with me, incarnating the music to which I listen.

Music often transports me into an atmosphere of prayer. It is not the typical prayer which folks might think of... where hands are folded and heads are bowed. Where a worship leader speaks a traditional prayer with prescribed responses from the congregation. It is a less tangible prayer that results in God’s indwelling love in my heart. It is a presence where God speaks profoundly to my very soul. Where God conveys hope, like in the moments while listening to meaningful music. I want to share a few with you. The song “Brave” by Skillet praises God’s ability to “call me to be brave in [God].” Many times this past year the need for bravery has been essential in order to step forward and manage the difficult situations in which I have been.

The celebratory song by Barry Manilow, “I Made it Through the Rain,” makes my heart sing. It beautifully marks how “I chased my fears away.” There were times when I was desperately trying to get my house ready to sell this past spring, and struggled to manage all that needed doing. God knew I was strong enough to make it happen and empowered me to do so. I found the song prayerfully emphasized the strength found in my relationship with the Divine.

Still, there were times I wondered if my heart could weather the storm of what selling the house actually meant. It was the ending of the tangible life with my late husband. A life that now exists in the past, and I am tasked with moving forward. Yet the song “I Have a Dream” by Abba seemed to emphasize my ability to move forward into the next chapter of my life. It reminded me to dream with joy about what God has in store for me.

There are other songs in my year in review that really speak to my own inner dialogue. When I am dealing with my own self-worth (even when I put on a strong facade), God reminds me that I am worthy. In the times I tell myself “lies that I won’t measure up,” the song “You Say” by Lauren Dagle stresses that God ALWAYS celebrates “my worth, my identity.” The message of being wonderfully unique, created in God’s image, shines through this song. When my heart truly listens to the message, and not just my ears, I am drawn ever closer to the Divine One.