I love music. Like most of us, I have certain genres that I love (country, oldies, rock and roll) and ones that I detest (rap, hip-hop, metal). But there’s one genre that I’ve had a love-hate relationship with for many years: Christian music.
I grew up in a United Methodist church about 10 miles from my house. My parents and I moved to Chesapeake in the fall of 1992, and Mom & Dad proceeded to “shop around” the churches in our area – and there were plenty to choose from. I was 4 years old at the time, and we all easily fell in love with Aldersgate from the first visit. Someone remind me to tell the church bathroom story later 😉
When we became members, I grew to love singing the hymns in worship. Then, as I reached middle school in the early 2000s, our youth group had stacks of CDs (and some cassettes) of contemporary Christian music. See examples below:
There are so many more I could list, but I’ll spare you.
As I journeyed through middle school and high school, I developed the love-hate relationship I mentioned earlier. I loved certain songs – Case in point, all of the YouTube links are some of my absolute favorites.
And then there were periods of weeks or months that I couldn’t stand to listen to any of it. The hymns in worship kept me grounded, but the contemporary stuff drove me nuts for certain periods.
Part of the problem was me – when I found out the local library carried a ton of the contemporary music. I remember grabbing up to 10 CDs at a time and working my way through them for each two-week loan period. Once I received my iPod halfway through high school, I filled it to the gills with full albums of easily 20-30 different Christian artists. The “Christian & Gospel” genre was by far the biggest group in my iTunes.
Fast forward to starting college at Longwood, fall of 2007. I still had a high number of Christian artists on my iPod and iTunes from all of those CDs, but I found myself skipping over 95 percent of the songs. I fell back to the small list that are still my all-time favorites, especially Avalon, MercyMe, and Steven Curtis Chapman.
I was also struggling with my faith in general. I was very homesick for the first several months, having moved 150 miles away from my parents and my church. Add to that my boyfriend, who became more and more abusive over a long and arduous 4-year period from 2006 to 2010, and the love-hate relationship continued to evolve.
I don’t remember when this happened, but one day at Longwood I found this song embedded in my iTunes:
I had heard a few of Camp’s songs before, and I wasn’t particularly impressed. I felt he was straining in the songs, like he was trying too hard to get the message across.
However, seconds into “Right Here,” I was taken. I was overwhelmed. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I had a few moments of peace.
This instantly became one of my go-to songs. I have it on my iPhone now, and whenever I’m feeling stressed, I know I can go scroll through my artists and find that song. It has an incredible calming effect on me.
Another song I love by Camp is an oldie but a goodie – “Walk By Faith.” It has similar effects on me as “Right Here.” They both make me well up with emotion a little bit, and I have to become acutely aware of my surroundings when listening, because I am known to break out into spontaneous singing.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt from both “Right Here” and “Walk By Faith.”
All the world is watching
All the world does care
Even when the world weighs on my shoulder now
These feelings I can bare
Because I know
That you’re here
Everywhere I go
I know you’re not far away
You’re right here
You’re right here, yeah, yeah
Well I will walk by faith
Oh even when I cannot see it
Well because this broken road
Prepares Your will for me
Help me to win my endless fears
You’ve been so faithful for all my years
With the one breath You make me
Your grace covers all I do
Yeah, yeah , yeah, yeah, yeah
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂