|Ogden Point, Victoria, BC|
Our scars are unique to us; they lead you to people they are meant to find.
Leaning onto the railing of Ogden Point, my senses are inundated with vivid hues, brackish surf and the frondescence of autumn. The perfect balance of nature whispers its brilliance, as the sun sets over the ocean. In the distance, a lone figure approaches me. Over the next hour, I am immersed in conversation with another seeker of life. At one point we stand in silence, as the landscape is turned into a palette of featured rich colours, which require our attention.
Later, driving away, I am mulling over the word anchor and the playfulness of it that can have opposite meanings. Either it can convey being weighed down or how someone can become emotionally attached in your life.
To let yourself be affixed to another, is to place your heart in a risky situation. When letting someone into your personal space, you open yourself up to being rejected. In offering love, the saying goes… the more you give, the more you risk losing.
What about the anchors, once fastening us to someone that become abruptly ripped away? Do we learn to accept, adapt and merge into the new form of who we are, or do we let ourselves fade away, along with our tears?
There are people, who behind their beautiful silhouettes, are stitched together souls.
Christian artist Mandisa found herself being tired of trying to remain strong, after the loss of her friend, Lakisha Mitchell, who died of breast cancer. The Overcomer singer made the choice to slip away into the shadows. Mandisa ignored God, as she struggled to understand how Lakisha could have been taken, one year after giving birth to her second child. She quit attending church and her Bible remained unopened. It was the crippling depression that removed Mandisa from the music industry. Along with it, came back the 120 pounds she worked hard to lose. Spiralling down, was a despair that left her feeling hopeless.
When I selected Mandisa’s latest CD, Out of the Dark, I could not imagine the honesty of her words that bore straight into me. On the back cover of the inside pamphlet are the following comments from the singer:
“Shame and insecurity weighed me down, and suicidal thoughts tried to overtake me in that dark pit. Thankfully, it only takes a flicker of light to dispel the darkness…Today, I don’t have all the answers…but I am learning to trust in who God is, more than my need to understand everything. He can work through all things, including the things the enemy intends for harm, He uses for good.”
Now, as I play Mandisa’s song list, it is something I can relate too. This disclosure of hers, prompted me to research Christian artists, who because of tragedy became stronger in their faith.
In writing my post, I would also discover, how my life would be intertwined with strangers; each who have their own voice of truth.
At the beginning of November, I attended the concert For King & Country. It was an event full of energy, a multitude of instruments played, and a set list fueled by worship.
Previously, I gifted the extra ticket to a stranger, who I found was celebrating her birthday on the night of November 2nd. I would later hear from Danielle at the concert. She was with her friend, who had bought a ticket. I received the following message:
“Thank you so much! It would not have been possible without your generous gift!
It has been so amazing!”
I smiled and looking up, whispered my gratitude again, thanking God the person I once dated, had let me go. For there has only been an abundance of blessings come from it.
Inside the concert, I sang along with those attending, a sold-out show. One of the songs that resonates with me is Priceless, as it is connected to a movie of the same name. Joel Smallbone (part of the band duo) is in the film about sexual trafficking. The story-line gives a voice to take a stand against exploitation of those most vulnerable.
There is a Priceless necklace that I bought which says: “SHE’S WORTH FIGHTING FOR.”
|Where my Priceless necklace rests before wearing it|
It prompted me to think of the damage that can be done, to control someone, when words are used as weapons. This is a quote on the wall of where I was staying.
During the band’s performances, Luke Smallbone walked out on the stage and spoke of a former health crisis, Ulcerative Colitis, which saw him almost lose his life. Him and his wife, Courtney, also experienced the trauma of their 2- month- old son, Leo, nearly dying from Sudden Death Syndrome. Adding to their trials, was Luke’s wife Courtney who had survived Lemierre’s Syndrome when she was 18. Years later, when she was 7 months pregnant with their second child, Courtney became addicted to anti-nausea medication. Her anxiety was coupled with PTSD and she was overwhelmed with guilt and fear, given who her husband is, in the Christian music industry.
Listening to Luke speak, you could see the emotions he was overcome with. He shared how he left a show in Texas, to come back home to be with his wife, who had called frantic and asked him to come home right away. After checking his wife into a mental health facility as an outpatient for therapy, the Smallbone family united. When they were at their most vulnerable, they turned to their faith and trusted in God to see them through every set of painful circumstances. Courtney shared how her shame became unravelled. For King and Country’s album called “Burn the Ships.” It is about these life altering experiences and how in life we cannot go back, so we need to burn the ships, which link us to our past.
Before I left for this memorable night, I found myself at Island Regional Park, to watch the sunrise at 7 am.
|Island View Regional Park|
Sitting on my driftwood bench crafted by nature, I noticed a woman and her son scouring the beach. I wondered if they had lost something. Turned out, they were looking for painted rocks, with various designs that has become a popular trend. The concept is to paint rocks and hide them for others to find. As families go rock-hounding, it is bringing people together and outside where the real beauty is. The mom soon introduced herself as Tina and her son, Benjamin. He had found a lovely, colourful stone. In my coffee mug, I also had a pebble I had been hanging onto for 10 years. I discovered it at Boundary Bay, as I walked the shoreline with someone. I asked Benjamin if he would like it and his eyes lit up when he read the date on it.
Life is like that…when something is meant to be released, it will find a way.
Soon after, as the crimson glow of the sunrise was beginning to form, I noticed a lady with a professional camera, capturing the moment. There was a stillness to her, with a peace that drew me in. When I introduced myself, our conversation flowed easily. I discovered Cindy’s business is called Sea Salt Photography. We talked about our passions and then she divulged about her surviving cancer. I was moved by what Cindy spoke of with me. As the waves rushed upon the pebbled beach, I could tell there was more to her story, beyond the lens.
When I went back home to my researching, I read of other musicians’ journey with grief. Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Beth lost their 5-year-old daughter Maria Sue. She was tragically killed, when her brother driving the family’s SUV, accidentally ran over her. As they gathered in love and hope, instead of blame and anger, a place was created in Maria’s memory:
“Maria’s Big House of Hope was named in honor of Maria Sue Chapman, the daughter of Show Hope founders, Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman. Six years after Maria’s death, her legacy continues to transform the lives of orphans with special needs. The sights and sounds of laughing children that echo throughout the hallways of Maria’s Big House of Hope, are very much a glimpse of God’s redemption…of his bringing beauty from ashes.”
Another story of resilience is Jason Weaver, lead singer for the band, Big Daddy Weave. Jason who has diabetes, became ill with an infection, which severely weakened his body's immune system. This prevented his body’s ability to stave off the infection and resulted in the amputation of both of his feet. In August of 2016, Jason appeared with his band on stage, at Christian Music Broadcasters Momentum Conference. Big Daddy Weave received the "Rich Mullins Impact Award."
We Are Messengers have retold their brush with death, many times. The tour bus they were travelling on, crashed into a vehicle parked on a dark road, with no lights on. Sadly, the person was killed instantly. Band members were still inside their tour bus when it caught on fire. Suddenly, the bus door flew open on its own, as the flames erupted. They all should have perished yet continue to give accounts of their survival.
Time and time again, in my continued research, I read of how Christian singers and their band members endured loss, addictions, abuse and painful encounters. Each one of them, have turned their life lessons, into testimony.
I thought of my own experiences, whereas a result of choices made, I have become stronger. Yet, I do not forget the times where instead of walking in the light, I have demanded in the dark…where I have held myself captive in places, I had no right to go.
Being a Christian, does not entitle me to a pass. If anything, I am sought after that much more by the darkness and everyday, I must keep the light in my lantern ablaze.
I am reminded of Luke Smallbone asking the audience, on the night of the concert:
“Are there ships you need to burn in your life? What from your past has kept you silent and held you back from freedom?”
by TL Alton