One of the common misconceptions people have when they first learn about Music for the Soul is that all of our songs are going to be “warm and soft.”  After all, these are songs that are meant to provide healing so naturally they are always going to be tender and gentle, right?

Well…

It has been my experience that if people don’t feel like they can trust you with their pain, then they aren’t going to believe you when you start talking about hope. That’s why many of our songs simply state the pain and don’t try to resolve it.

After all, most songs run about three and a half minutes in length. Whether it’s addiction, abuse trauma, loss or whatever – to try and state the condition, go through tall the steps of healing, and proclaim freedom in three and a half minutes is

unrealistic at best, and downright irresponsible at worst.

One of today’s feature song is a good example of what I’m talking about. As you can read here my roots in Christian music ministry began when I was invited to write some songs for the sexually abused for a stage play being created on the topic of incest. In the process of creating and presenting this play I had occasion to meet and talk deeply with many women who had survived childhood sexual abuse.

The stories I heard filled me with tremendous respect for the courage of these women. After years of such conversations I felt called to try and capture the emotions of an adult still carrying the unhealed trauma wound of sexual abuse.

During the creation process I spoke to several survivors and also to Christian counselors who specialize in this area of counseling.  The result was a song entitled

Dead Hearts Don’t Cry.

The lyric reads in part:

If you really knew me

Then you wouldn’t like me

I’m damaged and dirty

And shameful to the core

What you see is fiction

A fragile contradiction

Hopeless and hurting

And constantly at war

You’d think the tears would flow

From these wounded, weary eyes

You’d think the tears would flow

But dead hearts don’t cry

Later on in the song it says:

How could God love me

When I hate myself?

Painful?  Yes. Excruciating. But honest.

I believe we dishonor God and we dishonor the courage of survivors when we either ignore or sugar-coat the experience of sexual abuse.

One survivor told me, “It destroys relationships, engenders shame, depression, insecurity, and failure. And as long as it remains in the darkness it cannot even begin to heal.”

How can we as Christians be afraid to speak truthfully when women and children are asked to endure and carry such horrific pain?

Necessarily Complicated

Of course one does need to heal and to move forward. Our prayer is that there will ultimately be healing for survivors of incest and that there will be other songs to sing. But even those songs must necessarily be complicated.

A perfect example of one such song is a song called No Power Over Me, which deals the difficult issue of forgiveness.

As many therapists have told me over the years one cannot experience true freedom if they are a prisoner of hate. The “get angry and stay angry,” approach that has been used by some to empower survivors inevitably leads down an unhealthy road. The hate we hold on to will eventually eat at us from the inside out.

I was asked to write No Power Over Me to help male survivors in the wake of the revelations surrounding Jerry Sandusky at Penn State.

Here are a few lines from that song:

For so long I felt like I was damaged

As if nothing I did was enough

Alone and drowning in my secret

I felt unworthy of love

I was fearful of humiliation

I was certain that everybody knew

But there was nothing wrong with me

and now at last I finally see it

So today here’s what I choose to do

I release you

You have no power over me

I forgive you

I choose to set my own heart free

I am no longer the victim

of the bad choices that you made

Perhaps someday you’ll get the help you need

You have no power over me

There are other songs on our site for those who’ve been sexually abused and some of them are soft and tender. There is another song we’ll be releasing soon on this topic to celebrate survivors. But my prayer is that as more churches seek to talk openly about this issue that we will not try and gloss over the pain.

Jesus would never do that.