My pastor sent a song to me about a month ago that I’ve been meditating on and allowing to speak to my soul. As a writer, I love to hear the heart behind words. As a coach, I love to digest how I process things so I don’t write something that I don’t fully understand. As an overthinker, I love to overanalyze and then apply the things I listen to so I don’t waste their potential. This process is anything but… simple.
Since I’d been considering bringing the Music & Musings series back, I figured why not kick it off with a post sharing my reflections on this song. So…welcome to Music & Musings, where I break down a song and share my thoughts on it in somewhere between 250 and 7437 words. Semi-kidding, though Say Something was very long.
Before I begin sharing my thoughts, please take a moment to listen the song:
As I listened to this song the first time, tears began streaming down my face and I couldn’t figure out why. I was standing in my bathroom preparing to go somewhere and my eye makeup became completely ruined within moments. (Those of you who wear eyes makeup understand the mixed reaction you have when your makeup is spot on and something makes you cry good tears!) I listened again and again, waiting for the exact moment in the song that was making my cry to strike me again. What am I responding to with these tears? About ten times later, I heard it.
“A story composed to bring me back home…“.Copyright People & Songs, “Simple”
There it was. Like a Lego sitting on the carpet that I’d just stepped upon without warning, the line ran through my entire body with sharp pain. I felt it immediately and understood that the last four years of my life have been a story Jesus has been writing to bring me back home to Him.
To keep moving forward with this post, I have to go backwards for a moment. Come with me?
When I first wrote the Music & Musings series, I was blogging over at Eyes Straight Ahead. The day I created that blog, I used the tagline, “The Journey Home” and shared that Eyes Straight Ahead was about the journey home to self, God, love, faith, and so much more. It was about returning to the state we were created to live in, which most of us lose somewhere in childhood due to filters we pick up and behaviors we take on to protect ourselves. I shared my thoughts to on various topics related to faith and life and gave the readers an inside glimpse into myself while stepping into my new normal after an unexpected divorce.
Hearing the words, “A story composed to bring me back home” reminded me of that original journey and how I healed and grew while I blogged there before retiring the blog so I could focus on The Essential Creative and my business blog. I thought of how on that blog I shared my transition of striving for perfection and attainment, learning who I was as I blogged through a divorce and raising daughters on my own. I remembered how I allowed people into my life as I transitioned from career to full-time ghostwriter and marketer and then started voice discovery coaching to help people learn to write and share their story in their most authentic way. I thought of all this and realized that it wasn’t that specific line that caused the tears. It wasn’t about me coming back home, though it was part of it both metaphorically speaking and physically speaking. What brought the tears was how God was putting together this story where I didn’t need to strive to receive His love. I didn’t have to prove anything to Him or do anything for Him. He just simply loves me because He does.
By always keeping my eyes straight ahead, I understood everything about tomorrow. I knew what was coming and I didn’t really receive any surprises because I had life planned out with backup plans in case anything went wrong. In looking to tomorrow, I’d come to a place of living so fully with my eyes straight ahead that I forgot to look around me and enjoy the moment, which had been something I was striving to do for many years. I was constantly trying to hold on to my own story and maintain control of the narrative. In doing so, I left little room for God to work… and that led me to a point in 2018 where I struggled with my faith and became very disenchanted with God and His seeming lack of movement in my life.
Have you been there?
As I listened to this song and allowed it to speak to my soul, I got so stuck on those lines about bringing me back home and not having to strive for what’s already mine…
How simple it was…
How simple it is…
And yet for me it is anything but simple to receive. Because receiving means reciprocating and at that point it’d been many years since I’d felt like I’d had anything left to offer anyone.
Have you ever felt that way? Like you were not enough for people? Like you just being you wasn’t enough? You had to impress them somehow: humor, buying their affection, doing things for them. You just showing up as you wasn’t enough for someone to feel like you were worth their time. Maybe I shouldn’t write that in past tense? Maybe it’s how you feel right now as you are reading this.
You see, when God aligns a friendship, there truly is no striving. And when God calls you and chooses you to love, there is no striving because it’s already yours. He is already yours. He has already paid the price and already made the commitment and investment in you. How wild is that?
I don’t think the concept it simple. In my world, it never has been simple. By the way I have felt it and experienced this walk, it has been anything but simple. I mean…my goodness, let’s look at the very basics of my faith for a moment since they are what forms the premise that it’s “really that simple”:
A force that may have not really have had a pronoun assigned to it creates the universe and all that is within it. (I will use He from here on since that is how the translations have come through for centuries.) His creation fails Him by choosing to go against His commands and listen to a talking snake. He now chooses to redeem them by giving up His only Son, who is also fully Him and able to do all He does AND is fully flesh and man at the same time, to die on a cross made by the same creation who failed Him WHILE that creation is
still STILL rejecting Him. Then once dead in the physical body, he battles Hell, conquers it once and for all, and sets all humans – past, present, and future – free before rising from the grave to show up and spend time among the very people who rejected Him. They don’t recognize Him while He is sitting with them until He serves food (because we know Christians always learn best when they have food around…or at least that’s what we’re taught since so many of us can’t seem to get together if we aren’t “breaking bread”) while sitting with them as they talk about Him. They are floored to see Him alive and one of them even says he needs to poke him in the holes where the nails were to believe it’s him because he isn’t as much of a sucker as the rest of them. Jesus obliges and the guy believes (though for the rest of eternity we mock him for his disbelief by calling him “Doubting Thomas” despite knowing we would not only want to stick our hands in the holes but bring the entire team from Quantico as well as the local CSI team out to investigate and ensure this isn’t a case of stolen identity or some trick.) He spends time talking with them and giving them some commands for what to do after He is gone and then go to a mountain and ascends to the Heavens, where He sits at the right hand of God–who He is and yet who He is sitting next to–and now is calling after us to get our attention (because all of this so far hasn’t been enough to get it) so we will love him for eternity. Oh and there’s a third person to all this that is a spirit–yet is fully God and Christ–that He sends over them when He leaves and that Spirit gives His creation a straight line into Heaven to do powerful things.
All sarcasm aside about how easy or simple this is, I am a striver. I want to do my best at all times. Many years ago I had to tell myself to start aiming for progress not perfection because I’d become lost in a world of writing for best-seller status and writing the best marketing content to garner the best results when we looked at analytics. I had become so absorbed in numbers and doing and striving that I no longer knew how to be.
And then four years ago I started this journey down the path that led me to where I am today. A path where there was much resistance and much that wasn’t simple or straight-forward. A path that was painful and caused me to put aside so much of what I loved and believed and thought about my life. I reached a point where I just wanted to read what He wrote for me instead of telling Him what I am limiting Him to. I finally sat down and said, “I give. I surrender.”
Friends, we miss out on God and the moment He has us in when we are so used to striving that we can’t just be. Being still and just being is how we learn who we are. When we stand still, suddenly we can hear things we never could hear, see things we couldn’t see, and feel things we couldn’t feel. We can face the things about ourselves that we have to change and do so without feelings of guilt or condemnation. (This is why fasting is such an intense time: We are able to just sit still and listen during that time in prayer when we are showing God that He is more important than what we are giving up.)
In the time I walked that path, I became a new person. I started to trust the God I’d left behind me in pursuit of my dreams. I was able to trust myself to feel again, even when that feeling wasn’t natural. I allowed myself permission to fully and wholeheartedly experience each breath. On that path, I learned the simplicity of God loving me. But two years into the journey, I realized I still struggled with how to love Him back without striving.
I had to retrain my thinking and realize that I could just show up and be me and that it was enough. For God, for people, for myself. In doing so, I transitioned careers, lifestyles, and so much more over the last 3 months. I stepped into this version of myself who was showing up fully to a class full of strangers and sharing my deepest thoughts and allowing people to love me for the moment. I showed up in my career in a new way, allowing myself to grow and step into my talents in new and incredible ways. I even finished the book I’d been working on for 22 years! In the last three months, I have completely overhauled how I was interacting with clients and friends and have ensured I am no longer working in any spaces that don’t bring complete fulfillment and alignment with the goals I believe God has created me to achieve.
I finally realized that I am already His. I don’t have to strive for His love. And that means that all He has for me isn’t anything I can work for or earn… It’s just there. I just have to be willing to receive it.
I simply have to be willing to receive it.
It’s not complicated.
I just have to be open to allowing Him to bless me and show up for me that way I have always shown up for others. But to do that, I have to be willing to receive. And up until now, I always held myself back because I liked being behind the scenes and didn’t want a spotlight. I hid behind excuses and fears instead of allowing God to truly give to me what He’s promised.
There’s a line at the beginning of the song that says:
Like a child I reach outCopyright People & Songs, “Simple”
Just to be with you now
I had to open my arms wide like a little child and reach out to Him so I could sit with Him and allow Him to give things to me instead of looking at Him with closed fists and being upset with how He wasn’t moving on my time table, according to my will, and along my desires for how life would play out. I had to tell Him I was sorry for expecting so much from Him when He’d already done more than I deserved. I had to come to terms with my truths and understand at a deeper level what I believed in and how deeply I held those beliefs.
In the last three months I did all of that and made these big changes and then one day early this month I heard the song again and I smiled because I understood.
It’s really that simple.
I simply receive.Copyright People & Songs, “Simple”
Pingback: Music & Musings: “Simple” by People & Songs — Shell Vera – The Essential Creative
THANK YOU SHELL VERA!! From day 1 of our meeting, an amazing, supernatural friendship and eternal connection formed! This blog and song brought a torrent of tears instantly. The part about a journey home TO SELF left me undone. I found myself crying out, “I take back ME from you devil, I take back ME from you Newton Speedwell ( names have not been changed to protect the guilty!) I take back ME from you grandfather! As a victim of child sexual abuse, aka rape! I now know that I was stripped of the beauty of knowing and BEING ME!
Going through the tears and receiving the strength to take a stand, I came out on the other side with a clear sense of purity, worthiness, love, joy, peace, confidence and trust. It over-flowed from the inside- out as I presented myself to HIM! Shell, I love and honor you as God’s end time Handmaiden and daughter. Keep bringing us to the LIGHT of HIS LOVE.
Beloved Grace Carter
LikeLiked by 1 person
I love you so much. This was such a beautiful moment to read of your victory. I am so proud of you for you release and taking back your stand and power!!! I am excited to see the journey from here forward. It’s been an honor to be with you this far! ~Shell