Confessions: On Bad CCM Lyrics and Doubt

Confession: I don’t know if it makes me a bad Christian to say this, but there are times when I am listening to K-LOVE driving down the road and I just have to turn it off because I find it so irritating (and not just when they are doing fundraising.) I completely believe that the songwriters have great intentions and that many people are blessed by these songs, but sometimes I just can’t believe they got away with some of those lyrics. My husband and I have often ranted to each other that it is possible to write intelligent, true, and powerful lyrics about God. Look at some of the great hymns. I don’t think you should be able to cop-out on writing good lyrics just because your song is about God.

For example, Kutless’s “That’s What Faith Can Do” contains the lyrics, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard/Impossible is not a word/It’s just a reason for someone not to try.” Ok, this makes no sense. Last time I checked, “impossible” is actually a word.. See what I did there. I just used it. I think what he’s looking for is more like “impossible is just a word, not a reason for someone not to try.”

Here’s another great one, Natalie Grant’s “Human”: “I’m human/You’re human/ We are…we are human” It’s a power anthem, and you’ve gotta love that, but these lyrics make it like a Christian version of Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

But a personal favorite has to be Amy Grant’s, “Better than a Hallelujah” : “We pour out or miseries, God just hears a melody…” So…God rejoices when we suffer and hears our cries of agony as sweet, sweet music?

The redeeming factor in this song for me is that although I think she butchered the delivery, I understand what Amy’s trying to say and I couldn’t agree more. I think God does appreciate our honesty and humility before him. I think he delights in our coming to him with needs instead of only coming to him when we feel like we’ve got everything under control. I think God welcomes our questions, our doubts, and our fears as readily as he welcomes our praises. And right now I am so very glad he does.

Confession: I struggle with doubt. While a part of me remains steadfastly convinced of God’s goodness, his love for me and all people, and his plan for my life, another part of me wonders if it’s true. There are moments when my faith is so real to me that everything around me radiates the truth of it. And there are moments when I just can’t seem to make sense of it and it all seems just a little too ridiculous.

I used to be afraid of the doubt, and especially afraid to express it to anyone. Like if I said it out loud, I’d be renouncing my faith or turning my back on God. I especially feared that anyone I shared Doubt with would think I was experiencing serious spiritual crisis and try to rehabilitate me. Or simply be frightened of me. And of course, I’ve felt it would be the ultimate failure in being a godly wife. But lately I’ve been seeing it a little differently. I’ve been thinking about Doubt as a gift, perhaps even a friend.

Doubt reminds me that I am not God. If I was God, I wouldn’t doubt…I’d know. And the fact that I don’t know reminds me why I need a God who does know. Everything. Doubt reminds me of how small I am and how much I still don’t know. Mostly though, I’ve been comforted to realize that God is not surprised by my doubts. I think he expects them. When Christ was resurrected, Thomas refused to believe it was true until he had seen the wounds on his hands and put his hand into Christ’s side. We always cite this as such an embarrassing story for Thomas, but I don’t think it has to be seen that way. Consider how Jesus responds when he appears to Thomas. He says to him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” I think Thomas genuinely wanted to believe, but he struggled with doubt and the doubt got the best of him. Jesus makes it clear that it was better for those who believed without having to see, and yet…he still chooses to appear to Thomas. He still chooses to address Thomas’s doubts and to dispel them.

Sometimes I believe wholeheartedly. But sometimes, like Thomas, I want to believe but I struggle with doubt. I’m going to try something new. Instead of denying my doubts I am going to embrace them. I am even going to explore them. And I am going to wait for Christ to appear.

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7 comments

  1. Lily, just want to say that I have LOVED reading your blog. You are such a great writer and I frequently relate to the things you post about new marriage and walking with the Lord.
    Good for you for being so bold about your doubts and putting them out there. I really struggled with this at Wheaton and still do (I will email or call you sometime if you want to hear more about this 🙂 ).

    And about the bad worships songs….Nick and I could not agree with you more. I would like to include “This is the stuff” to the list. All I can think about is how sick it is that we get so frustrated about things like loosing our keys or getting pulled over–WHILE THERE ARE PEOPLE DYING AND STARVING IN THE WORLD ALL OVER THE PLACE. Ooops….I need to work on taming my reaction to that one.

    Two other posts I think you’ll like that relate to this are here:
    http://www.theblazingcenter.com/2010/05/how-to-write-an-awful-worship-song.html

    and

    http://www.theblazingcenter.com/2010/05/why-words-matter-in-a-worship-song.html

    They are short and REALLY well written…so anyone else interested should definitely check them out too!

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  2. Thanks, Lauren! Loved these links. And thanks for reading and relating. The more I’m writing the more I am finding people who do understand what I’m saying and where I’m coming from…definitely not everyone who reads, but many people. It’s so good to know that you’re not alone, especially when it seems like everyone else has it all together. And I’d love to talk to you more about doubts. I think Wheaton is one of the hardest places to have them. I’ve been really taking a leap with the blog in some ways because I know how much I appreciate when people are honest with me. I know it may mean that some people reading may judge me, but I think it’s worth it if it encourages a few people that they aren’t alone. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Let’s talk more about this. 🙂

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  3. Lily,
    Love the post. I didn’t know you had a blog but I look forward to reading some more of them. The best part of this post is how honest you have been. Nothing is worse than reading something and knowing that the person writing is not being genuine. We all have doubts, even those who may read this and judge you, probably especially those who judge you. Looking forward to more!

    Aaron

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    1. Thanks, Aaron! Glad to have you around! And thanks for what you said about honesty. It’s hard sometimes knowing that not everyone is going to “get” you or what you’re saying, but I also think it’s important because what you say holds so much more value if it is completely true. Also, if I haven’t said so before, congratulations on your beautiful baby girl. Her pictures are so sweet. I will try to keep the posts coming!

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  4. You’re hilarious – but right – about the lyrics. We have heard a couple of very cool story tellers in song lately though – so perhaps all is not lost. (Oh, but we don’t listen to KLOVE. We use Pandora.)

    And about the doubt! That is a very good thing indeed. If they were around, you ask the likes of Tolkein and Lewis.

    Love what you write.

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  5. omg- we would totally be friends in real life! I LOVE your writing and most of the time I can’t stand the lyrics to christian music either! And don’t even get me started on the overdone repetition of a 3 word sentence that they call a song… anyway, I so appreciate your honesty and it’s so nice to know we’re not alone in our struggles, doubt and search for purpose. 🙂

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    1. I think we would too. 🙂 I also really love reading your blog. It’s fresh and down-to earth and honest and I feel like I get to know this other woman/other couple doing basically the same thing we are doing, sometimes from opposite sides of the world. Reminds me how enormous that God guy is. It’s the coolest. Thanks for reading!

      Like

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