What has been your earliest memory of your life? It may be of when you were a baby, or maybe a bit older. Maybe you were playing with your siblings, or maybe it was of a traumatic event. Whatever your earliest memory is, what is important about memories and the necessity of us all having and keeping them is in fact that at the end of our lives, our experiences will be just that- memories. We cannot contain our experiences in a box, and relive them again and again if we want to feel a happy moment. Nor can we erase the memories we long to forget. What we remember is placed there, and whether it is good or bad, hurting or healing, whatever our memories about our childhood and adulthood is at this moment, one thing is true of our memories- that what we experience, or rather, what we remember about the events we live through, will deeply shape how we are today, and shape the relationships we have, with our friends, family and even God Himself. Whether our memories of events are way different than the events themselves, memory is a powerful thing. Here in this combined Sentimental Saturdays/Message Mondays post, we’ll delve into memory, and how it is always important to affirm that whatever memory and belief we have, about our past, ought not to hold us back in our future journey and discoveries we embark upon.
Last week I delved into the Rachel Platten song “Stand By You”, and while it was the first song deconstructed and analysed on this site, by a pop artist instead of the CCM artists we delve into each week, what was imparted, at least to myself, through this melody, was as impactful, enjoyable and heartfelt as it has ever been, with Rachel’s latest single fast becoming one of my favourite songs of the latter half of 2015, of any artist. So much so that this week, we’ll delve into “Fight Song”, another melody of hers, as we remind ourselves that though we fight daily, with ourselves, our demons in our heads, with our family and friends, and maybe even with God at certain stages in our lives, what our lives and how we lead them will ultimately tell and show those around us what our memory of our parents, friends, family and even God has been, and whether these memories and our perceptions need to change in order for us to see in ourselves what God already sees, that we are loved unconditionally, and that often, God will fight for us, and fight on behalf of us, so that we don’t have to burn our own strength to fight for what we believe to be true for us at that moment.
How many times have we wished we were younger, for whatever reason? Maybe life was simpler, maybe we didn’t have all the baggage and hurt that we carry now. Maybe we would have the opportunities again, to speak into someone’s life, who needs it the most. Sometimes what we may deem to be sentimental in our childhood, others could see as being missed opportunities. And no one want to keep coming back to memories that should’ve been done or happened differently. Cause at the end of the day, we all have regrets- it won’t be human if we didn’t. Yet thinking about the past, dwelling on it, and wishing we were there instead of here in the present are very different things. And yet some people see their situations as hopeless and wish just that. And that is when 2015 rolled around and Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” came into circulation. Prior to this year, I’m sure no one even knew her name, I’m sure I didn’t.
Yet “Fight Song” and the meaning that comes along with it has been circulating the airwaves for the better part of 2015, and while it is a popular mainstream song through and through, its reach and power to affect and inspire millions of people around the world is nothing short of phenomenal. Call it a miracle, we hear the words sung in the verse, that ‘…like how a single word, can make a heart open…’, and I myself am reminded about how words have power. They have effects, and while we may not believe it at that moment, what we say and speak over someone could be just the difference between nothing to live for and something, all in just the word we say. We as Christians, and to a broader sense the human race, have a responsibility of sorts- to speak into the lives of people who need it. Maybe it’s just sitting and being with the person who is hurting. Maybe it is giving humble advice. Maybe it’s picking up the pieces after an event. Regardless, what we say and do in those moments will make a big impact to those whose lives we are consciously affecting. It’s like the starfish story:
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
I know this is not the official version of the story, and I know I did just copy and paste from the internet, yet reading this extract over and over is nothing short of marvellous. God’s called us to change the world as we share with it the love He has given to us, and while it can seem overwhelming with all of the ‘starfish’ stranded on the sand, all we’re called to do is just pick up a starfish, one at a time. We ought not to see the big picture and be worried- how can we influence the world for Christ, how can we be the change God longs for us to be, when there’s so many people out there that may not want to receive the love and care we freely give to them?
Sure there may be moments of self-doubt, and there may be people declaring that what we’re doing, individually and corporately as the body of Christ, may seem ludicrous at times. Yet “Fight Song” is an anthem if you will, a call for us to stand tall, and rather declaring the song to prove the haters and the doubters wrong, we declare it knowing the amount of fight, heart and resolve we still have in ourselves because of God empowering us to undertake much more than we could ever dream or imagine. Once we reconcile the memories we have, good and bad, of our childhood, we can undertake the purposes He has for each of us with much grace and dignity. I’ve reflected on this, and I’ve realised, that maybe the fact that many people feel overwhelmed about impacting and showing love to others is perhaps their own lives aren’t necessarily at the stage where they can know, and know without a doubt, that they are loved without condition. Once we know that we don’t have to do anything to earn unconditional love that’s given by the creator of this universe, then we can show others that same love. It is a daily process, and this revelation that we can’t do anything to earn the love and forgiveness from God isn’t going to change us overnight as we wash away everything negative that has been said about us over the years. But it will give us purpose and meaning, as even Jesus says that we ought to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:31), that before we can share hope and love to others, we must believe it for ourselves first.
What do we believe about ourselves at this very moment? That we are too far-gone? Are we defined by our successes, our failures, our hopes and dreams, or the regrets that plague us? What determines whether we keep going in our quest to impact the lives of others and ourselves- words spoken over us, or words we reiterate to ourselves that we know God has spoken to us time and time again? These are valid questions, and sometimes in the busyness we may overlook these crucial moments of contemplation. Yet these moments of reflection need to be carved out, and when it does come down to crunch time, we can say that we have thought about the meaty topics. What answer we formulate will be different from person to person, but at least we’ll know where we stand. And know that what we do or say to a person will have an impact like no other. As we stand by our friends and family, in the journeys and ‘fights’ they are on right now, we will declare with them, that this is our fight as much as theirs. That as much as we want to prove our doubters wrong, we as much want to prove to ourselves that our regrets don’t hold us down, even if they do. But at the end of it, this song is one that makes us think about our own lives. And if God can use songs like “Stand By You” and “Fight Song” to have the global impact these songs are having, then He can do immeasurably more.
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me
The chorus of “Fight Song”. And what has been impacting me of late is the second last line. Do we really care what other people think, whether they believe we are worthy of the life we’ve lived up to this point? Do we really care about approval, even to the point of fighting, or not, depending on the friends we hang out with? Sometimes…maybe, as this song suggests, we need to start fighting for ourselves, and not worrying about others and what they reckon. For, as Galatians 1:10 highlights (in a similar vein to this chorus), ‘…am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ…’ We all have our own fight songs. We all have our own fights. And we all ought not to seek validation from others. Sure some fights are much more impactful to some than others. Yet no ‘fight’ and no ‘story’ that we live through is insignificant. God can use sometimes the stories that aren’t necessarily the most flash to impact others the most. So own our stories. Even if they’re ugly. Even if they aren’t as ‘overcoming’ as others we’ve heard. Because we all can impact another with the words we say. Or the actions we undertake. However we interact will either add to another person’s life or take something away. Sobering, right?
What has been the fond memories of your past? What has been your experience with stories, fights, and everything else, and how has ‘Fight Song’ impacted you on your journey through life and all its challenges? How has nostalgia and memories of your own past shaped who you are today and your relationships, with friends, family and God Himself? When it comes down to it, are you seeking approval from man? Why/why not? Let us know the answers to these heavy questions in the comments. And remember, it is ok not to have all the answers- I certainly don’t. What matters is that healthy discussion can lead to positive change, in the lives of ourselves and those around us. Til next time.