The Arc of Healing
There is something very important that I learned early on in doing the work of this ministry. Namely this. People will not trust you with their hope until you’ve demonstrated that you understand their pain.
This realization is the reason that all of the Music for the Soul full length projects begin with a song that names the problem, but makes no attempt to offer solutions. Songs like The Cost (Tell Me What You See) and What Now (Mercy Great Enough) are designed to say essentially “We hear you. “We see you.” Nothing more. By starting in that place, we are working to build trust with the listener. We’re saying, “We will not trivialize your pain by suggesting that there is an easy fix.”
Healing from any serious trauma or emotional pain is a process, and an often messy one at that. Each person’s journey is unique. While never a one size fits all experience, for every issue there are some identifiable steps along the path to healing. These steps tend to be part of achieving wellness for most people.
As a Christian ministry we believe that a relationship with Jesus and the freedom that he offers is the end goal for those suffering from guilt, shame, addiction, grief, and the like. The steps in between on the journey from “We see you” to freedom are what I call the Arc of Healing.
When writing songs for our Music for the Soul projects we seek to identify these steps in three ways. One, by talking with people who have lived through the issue at hand, and found their way to recovery. Two, by speaking with therapeutic professionals, who counsel on the issue. Three, by reading extensively on the topic. Finally, the entire process is covered in prayer. We know that God has the people in mind who will hear a song even before we write it, and so we commit all our efforts to the Lord and ask for guidance.
Once we get a sense of what some of the key touch points are on the healing journey then the songwriting begins. When we think we have a song that works well, we take it back to the people who understand the issue the best. We ask questions like, “Is this what it feels like?” “Where have we got it wrong?” “What should we have said that we didn’t say?” When we have sign off from “the experts” then we are ready to record.
A Coat of Pain
To me, this process is the equivalent of reaching into a closet and pulling out a coat of pain. We put that coat on and we wear it for as long as it takes to soak in and gain a deeper understanding of whatever it is we’re writing about. In this way, we seek to inhabit the stories of those we aim to serve in order that we might share with them in a language that resonates with their lived experience. It is our hope that the listener will hear a song, and say, “That’s me! That’s my story.“ In this way we are able to help our listeners feel known and understood by others, and by God.
In this day and age of streaming people may come across our songs “out of context”. A song that would serve someone better who is several months into the healing process might be heard by someone who is just at the beginning. No one goes into a movie theater halfway through a film, watches for five minutes, and then gets up and leaves. The movie only makes sense if one knows the whole story. To listen to one song out of a 10 or 12 song project, and out of order, is essentially the same thing. For that reason, if a song is from a full length project, I encourage listeners to visit our website in order to see where each song fits in the overall project
Many people have found listening to just one song in our catalog to be a life giving, or even life changing experience. For that we are always grateful. But while we do our utmost to create these songs in the most responsible way possible it is important to understand that none of the writers or performers are professionally trained counselors.
If you are seriously struggling with an issue, encountering some of these songs on your own might be upsetting or triggering. If this is a concern, I suggest you consider listening to our songs in the presence of a professional therapist or pastoral counselor. They will be able to identify where you are in the healing process and when and how a song would serve you best.
Whatever you are facing, I pray that the songs, videos, and discussion guides you find at Music for the Soul will be a blessing and help you as you walk out your healing journey.
May Jesus’ love light your path now and always.
– Steve Siler, May 2023