Over the past few Flashback Fridays posts, I’ve noticed a pattern of late- not by choice though. Most of the topics I’ve explored are heavy topics. Topics that, when push come to shove, society probably doesn’t want to talk about, and would choose not to if given the chance. The albums I have tied the topics to, while in my opinion are inspiring and influential to my life, have somewhat been overall mellow, and though it has not been my intention, sometimes I wonder when it will be that I delve into a ‘fun, bubbly, cheerful album’, regardless of what is happening in my life at the present moment. That’s not to say these past 20-odd albums that I have dived deep into since Australia Day this year (of which you can see the list here!) aren’t inspiring or life-changing, because they are, as evidenced by the high detail and vulnerability in my previous Flashback Fridays posts; but to say that I’ve only been impacted by deep, meaningful, introspective albums, is way, way off the mark.
Before I go straight into why I reckon pop music in general, has more of a place in society than one may think or even believe; let me tell you that this past few weeks have been quite the journey. Mum’s broken foot is slowly recovering (though there is still a lifestyle change that has happened and will continue to happen over the next few months), and various friends and loved ones have experienced tragedy, inclusive of death and sickness. School holidays has meant that the store has become busier of late, resulting in us being more tired, and drastically behind in our admin work for the company; while Jon’s and my free time (which is limited!) comprises of steady reviews and declining TV show watching, leaving little room for social interaction (which is an issue that we all need to work on!). With everything that has been going on in our lives, it’s no wonder how the four of us are still standing and functioning as a family unit to the level that we are right now. Well, actually, I do know how we are standing- it is a miracle. God has been so gracious and so good especially during the past few weeks, giving us strength and sending us friends to practically show us His love, to the length that some provide dinners for us (thank you guys!). But this whole period has been tough- and I reckon that if you were an outsider and didn’t really know us personally, you’d think that we’d be bitter at God and be showing our hurt and sadness at life through listening to ‘angry music’. But this isn’t the case. In fact, I reckon that throughout the past few months- the period of time that I reckon our faith has been tested, and subsequently strengthened; has been the time when I have listened to more Christian music than ever before, and specifically, more inspirational pop music. So…what does pop music have to do with Mum falling down and breaking her foot, or us being busier at the store and hence tireder? Let me explain just a bit…
I’ve always been reminded time and time again throughout my life to lean on Jesus during the hard times- either through the Bible or through prayer or through music. And that’s exactly what I have done. But sometimes, if you’re feeling down and like life is tougher than you want it to be (and this is what I have learnt recently, at least while Mum has been immobile); leaning on Jesus, but then also continuing to feel sorry for yourself, still continuing to refuse help where offered- isn’t helpful at all. You may as well not ask Jesus for help in the first place. Though Jesus can and will help those who ask, often He does this in placing people in our lives to act as agents of change in our lives, which we may and may not see. And the essence of what I am saying in this blog, is that especially in our times of trouble and times of need, we all need to open our eyes and be willing to accept help, no matter how big or small it is. Because the person down the street who helps you with your groceries, may be prompted by Jesus. The barista who strikes up a conversation with you as you are waiting for your takeaway coffee and speaks about the cricket and who he thinks the best batsman in the world is, allowing you to forget about your problems just for a few minutes, may have been prompted to help by Jesus. It’s the little things that we need to be thankful and grateful for, and it’s sometimes in the moments when you can’t see, that God is working in us the most.
Something that I’ve discovered to be true recently in my life (which may or may not work for any of you, and that’s ok!), is that when I’m feeling down, stressed and worried about the future, when I’m feeling like life is too hard or too busy, and when I’m feeling like God isn’t there; I listen to music contrary to what I am feeling. Rather than try to listen to reflective music like Steven Curtis Chapman or worshipful music like Chris Tomlin or even artistic singer/songwriter music like Andrew Peterson; of late I have actively chosen to listen to pop music. Most of the time I reckon that emotions can be amplified and magnified by what you are immersed in- so I reckon while listening to inspirational pop music can lift our spirits when we are feeling lonely and depressed and like life isn’t fair; I reckon pop music just brings our hidden feelings to the surface.
Why is it that when we’re angry at someone, we still want to move side to side and dance to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams or “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift on the radio? Why is it that when we’re not speaking to our best friend because of a grudge, we still dance around to “Shake” by MercyMe, “Roar” by Katy Perry, “Verge” by Owl City or “Listen To The Sound” by Building 429? Why is it then when we’ve had a good cry session, we still are uplifted by “Life Is Beautiful” by The Afters, “How Can It Be” by Lauren Daigle, or “The Sun Is Rising” by Britt Nicole?
Answers that I don’t specially have right now, but in general, I reckon that because music holistically is spiritual and God-breathed in nature, the very act of listening to music, either in the car or as background; ignites something deep down inside of us that makes us think about the deeper issues. And because many pop songs have such a happy-go-lucky atmosphere, I reckon that on the whole these songs are made to make us feel better about ourselves. Not the explicit, swearing type of pop songs (there’s no way you’d catch me listening to anything that goes directly against what God has intended!), but overall I reckon pop songs do have their place in society, in the sense that someone singing about the fact that life is going to get better, makes us believe that fact, even if that someone is a stranger on the other side of the world. Funny how music works, isn’t it?
This week on Flashback Fridays, as you can tell I didn’t delve into an album per se. Instead I talked about a theme, and now I’m going to leave you with a series of albums- of which each has been quite poppy, insightful, inspirational, fun, cheerful, reflective, and overall instrumental in how I am as a person and as a Christian in my life at the moment. Think of this as a Flashback Fridays post of me briefly touching upon 10 albums- each of them pop albums with hopeful messages. While these ten albums may or may not inspire you (because they are in fact Christian albums- I am a believer after all!), hopefully God can speak to you through each of them, and remind you that in this life you aren’t alone, that in this life, there is One who is for you and who is with you, even if no one else is- and that’s Jesus.
This Is Not A Test by TobyMac
Overcomer by Mandisa
Gold by Britt Nicole
Life Is Beautiful by The Afters
On Fire by Peter Furler
Listen To The Sound by Building 429
How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle
Go by Newsboys
All In by Stellar Kart
Brave by Moriah Peters
Which pop album has inspired you the most? Something outside of the list? Let us know in the comments? Are you guys excited for pop albums from Riley Clemmons, TobyMac, Building 429, Lauren Daigle, and Austin French releasing very soon?
Stay tuned next week guys, as we focus on the eternal, and focus on living in the knowledge that any day could be our last! Yep, it’s back to Steven Curtis Chapman, as we explore All Things New