Songs of My Life: Arms of Love

Music is a language that can often  express what a heart feels better than any words.

Even better when well-crafted poetry is added in the form of lyrics to a moving, compelling melody and appropriate harmony.

There are songs that have not only meant so much to me, but clearly defined moments in my life or seasons. They have shaped my response to struggles and events. They have lifted me up, comforted me, motivated me, brought new meaning and clarity or grounded my life in uncertain times.

That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to share with you a few songs that have spoken into my life and made a profound impact along the way.

Arms of Love  (Amy Grant on Age to Age, 1982)

Lord I’m really glad You’re here
I hope you feel the same when You see all my fear
And how I fail
I fall sometimes
It’s hard to walk on shifting sand
I miss the rock, and find there’s nowhere left to stand;
I start to cry
Lord, please help me raise my hands so You can pick me up
Hold me close
Hold me tighter

I have found a place where I can hide
It’s safe inside
Your arms of love
Like a child who’s helped throughout a storm
You keep me warm
In Your arms of love

Storms will come and storms will go
Wonder just how many storms it takes until
I finally know
You’re here always
Even when my skies are far from gray
I can stay;
Teach me to stay there

Written by: GARY W CHAPMAN, AMY GRANT, MICHAEL W SMITH / Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., CAPITOL CHRISTIAN MUSIC GROUP

How clearly I remember having this song on repeat on my CD player and lying on the living room floor bawling my eyes out and praying like never before. How clearly Amy’s words matched with my struggles at the time.

I was going through a rough time. I had just finished College and had a part-time job but I was struggling financially. I was having a difficult time meeting my rent obligations and was living from eviction notice to eviction notice. I lived on two-minute noodles and corn flakes. I didn’t know where my life was headed. I had problems dealing with simple, everyday things. Today I would most likely be diagnosed with depression but, being from a strict Christian home, depression (at that time) was not something to treat with drugs or therapy but with prayer and Scripture.

And this song became my prayer.

Through it, I admitted my failures, my fears, my uncertainty. In its simplicity I found peace knowing that, even though I couldn’t see what the next day would bring, I could still rest in the truth that I would not go it alone.

It didn’t fix everything. But, as music often does, it comforted me with the knowledge that somebody bigger than me cared about me.

I still get a melancholy feeling when I hear this song. It brings me back to a less fortunate, less-awakened time. In retrospect I would say this song marked, for me, a milestone in my journey to becoming a responsible adult. Yet, it also nurtured my faith and helped me to understand that there is always a safe place in the shelter of God’s love.

Always Finish What You . . .

From a very early age I have had drummed into that part of me that defines my character the adage, “Always finish what you begin.”

This has served me well throughout my life and has kept me from quitting many projects, groups, or relationships. It is a good principle to follow and one which I hope, to some degree, to instill in my own children.

However, I caught myself today in one of those “Aha!” light-bulb-goes-on moments thinking that my holding this rule so unswervingly may be one of the reasons for the stress I am feeling in my daily working life. See, I don’t like to leave anything unfinished. I don’t like loose ends. This also carries over into the speed at which I work becuase I don’t want to leave anything unfinished today.

My ideal day would end with all the loose ends tied up, all projects finished, my inbox and in-tray cleared, my computer scanned and its cache cleaned, my files backed up, all my electronic devices synchronised, desk tidy, pencils sharpened, and everything ready for a fantastic start the next day.

But that rarely happens. Thus the reason for my stress.

Yet I am the first one to say, regarding the spiritual life, “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey,” or “Enjoy the journey.”

Can’t–shouldn’t–this also apply to other areas of my life?

It may be that I need to allow jobs that aren’t urgent (“urgent” being defined as those with a deadline imposed by those above me) to remain a “work in progress” for a little longer, my desk to sometimes finish the day in a mess, my inbox and in-tray to have some unactioned material, and not be so harsh on myself. Perhaps I need to see my work as a journey and not a collection of daily or weekly destinations.

Perhaps I need to be satisfied, as I am in my spiritual journey, with a certain degree of unresolvedness, not having a neat little pigeonhole or box to put each thing. Maybe I should be content to leave my office with some dishevelment behind me. It might be that, in doing this, I may find myself  (eventually, once I get through the withdrawal period) more at peace in my work, more settled and less pressured.

Maybe I will . . .

See also: Stress Management: Ten Self-Care Techniques