The assignment this week was to write an autobiography through media–picking 10 songs or movies or books that related to or described my life in some way. Being a musician through and through, I went with 10 songs, and took a chronological approach to my life. The result is below, a play-by-play outline describing my life as if it were a musical. I hope you enjoy the journey…
When Love Takes You In || Steven Curtis Chapman
Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
And somewhere while you’re sleeping
Someone else is dreaming too
Counting down the days until
They hold you close and say I love you
We embark on this journey in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with a six-month-old baby living in a hospital under the care of a nun. The story that is to unfold hinges completely on the concept of adoption, that a lonely child can become someone else’s completely. Indeed, this lonely baby is soon to be greeted by his new parents, natives of the United States. Perhaps reflective of the spiritual adoption ordained before the beginning of time, or of the wonders of love, this adoption takes us to the United States, where the small baby will travel the road the Lord has set out for him.
Blessed Be Your Name || Tree63
Every blessing You pour out, I’ll
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be Your name.
The boy grows older–old enough to walk, to talk, to make stupid jokes. His family moves to a five-acre yard in the country. His mother teaches him about Jesus, about the sacrifice, about the concept of sin. Not fully understanding the ways of God but listening to his mother’s teaching, the boy decides that “turning his back on sin” is the correct choice to make. His church at the time plays contemporary Christian music, and this song is one of the several that he hears every Sunday in service and every other day on the car radio. It plays through his head. He sings it. It becomes a marker of his childhood. Still, he grows older and expands his academic learning and music education.
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor || Johann Sebastian Bach
Now ten years old, the boy begins learning one of his first “real” violin repertoire selections–the stuff the “real” violinists play. This piece marks several turning points in his education: the first major win in a music competition, the first time he takes real joy in practicing a piece, the first piece he practices upon receiving his new full-size violin on loan from his neighbor, an instrument made in 1926 in Italy. (He names this violin Salvatore many years later.)
All in all, this piece is a representation of growth and excitement over the future to come.
Cool Kids || Echosmith
I wish that I could be like the cool kids
‘Cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in
I wish that I could be like the cool kids
Like the cool kids
Our protagonist is about thirteen or fourteen years old. Friendship starts to matter very much to him, and he seeks out ways to fit in, to become part of the cliques he has so long observed reigning over his church (a different church than the one mentioned two songs ago). He succeeds halfway, but never feels complete. He relies on his jokes and his abilities to gain him respect, and this does all right for awhile. Then, he realizes that he is one of the cool kids in his online school. He has lots of friends, and starts becoming close to several of them. He takes up tennis and joins the Civil Air Patrol, finding more places to start anew and become one of them. Life is good. For now.
I Heard Goodbye || Dan+Shay
I watched you fade away
But I turned my head and closed my eyes
And prayed you’d stay
And I told myself that it’d be fine
I wish I could have just said somethin’, oh
When you said you needed time
I heard goodbye
Gaining new friends came with a cost–losing them. It is 2014, and our character is manipulated by some, used by others, and forgotten by still more. These are the people in whom he trusted, confided–the people he thanked God for. Relatively new to the whole world of friendships and their complications, he begins to feel lost and alone again: more alone than before any of the friends had come in the first place. He stops trusting in people, and he distances himself from the concept of true friendship. Perhaps all everyone else is good for is a good joke, in the end.
Something in the Water || Carrie Underwood
Felt love pouring down from above … and now I’m stronger
There must be something in the water.
Through the pain, the one constant for our child, now a confused teenager, is the love of God and His protecting, guiding hand. He begins to realize this in late 2014 and early 2015, about the time God sends him his first real, true friend. Both come forth from tangled emotions and aimless wandering, but soon become steadfast companions. They share a song–they love the song. All of a sudden, its lyrics feel so much more real, so much more vivid. Indeed, while he has felt lost and alone, he has also seen the workings of his Lord. This song is that song, and it sparked the beginning of the person most of our character’s friends know him as today.
This is Country Music || Brad Paisley
This is real
This is your life, in a song
Yeah, this is country music
The year is still 2015, but the boy has stopped listening to pop music. He glues memories to music, and pop music brings back the old feelings of solitude and abandonment. He sits in front of a small stereo on his desk, and toys with the knob. The scratches of static and faint signals play through the speakers, and suddenly there is music. Strong, robust, and instrument-centered. It doesn’t sound like pop at all. The boy listens, and the words start forming a story in his head. The images, the characters, the people–they become real, even if only for the duration of the song. Suddenly, the boy realizes that he can love another genre. This is Country Music summarizes most of these feelings perfectly. As the boy starts feeling rejuvenated and happy in his few friendships, he fastens these emotions onto various songs scattered throughout the Country genre.
God Must Really Love Me || Craig Morgan
When I look at the miracles around me
At the way that I live and the way He forgives
I know He’s up there smiling down on me
And I believe the only reason why
I’m still alive is
God must really love me
It is 2016, and our character now feels generally good and satisfied with life. However, he begins wishing that God send him blessings or signs that would confirm that He listens to prayer. As 2016 progresses for a few months, the boy practices his violin, and practices it hard. He promotes in the Civil Air Patrol program, and becomes better at tennis.
It is not his place to make demands of God, or to doubt. But he does, anyway.
And the miracles come. The boy places first in Florida all-around with his violin performances, and moves up several places on his tennis team. He gets accepted to two national CAP activities, a leadership school in the summer and a trip to Washington, D.C., to be immersed in US government the following winter. Only 24 cadets were accepted to this one, nationwide. The boy is rather overwhelmed by the Lord’s answer to prayers, and realizes that indeed, God must really love him.
Rescue || Hunter Hayes
Send a flare up in the eye of the storm
I send a prayer up and a bottle to the shore
But there are no words for what I’m searching for
What I mean is, that I’m needing you more
The year is 2017, bleeding into 2018. Friendship, that crazy realm of uncertainty from the past, has blossomed into something incredible. Our character has many, many amazing people in his life, and has reminders of their blessings everywhere. The ones who text “good morning” every morning without fail, who take beautiful song lyrics and give them life with colored pencils and markers. The ones who make him part of their family and draw cartoon portraits of the group as simple, happy friends. The ones who agree that kicking pinecones is indeed a mood, who insist the Coast Guard is better than the Air Force, who obsess together over Brandon Sanderson novels. Yes, there is truly something special about friendship now, and our character is pretty sure God is working through the relationships in his life every day. Here is the place where iron sharpens iron.
My Wish || Rascal Flatts
I hope you never look back, but you never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you live,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God’s grace, in every mistake,
And always give more than you take.
As the final scene of this drama comes to a close, we realize that our character has only just begun his journey. Currently an appointee to the U.S. Air Force Academy, he will be moving to Colorado Springs come June of 2018. All due to the adoption that started it all, he now has the potential to be anyone, anything, anywhere. And it’s incredible.
But he’s still apprehensive. He doesn’t know where life is taking him, and trusting God to handle everything proves difficult sometimes. As he looks forward, the boy realizes that there is no way the friendships he has can continue forever as they are, and there will be some people that move on, that forget, that have to say goodbye.
And the partings will be the hardest parts. While he does not dwell on the future much, he still maintains this song as his anthem for moving forward–both for his friends and himself. Change is scary, but the truths offered in this song will carry our character and his friends into the big, beautiful future.
All the songs mentioned are below, in order.