Note: I’ve used to my Amazon.com affiliate in the links to the various CD’s below. Thanks for supporting Authentic Simplicity!I rarely pause to share my heart here at Authentic Simplicity, mostly because I’m typically brimming with enthusiasm about other things, like cleaning carpet or storing excessive numbers of books or eating vegan for breakfast. Lately, though, my mind has been empty of all things practical while I deal with my heart that has been rebelliously insisting on some serious attention. Sometimes the details of life have to take a back seat so I can settle the big picture, and that’s what I’ve been grappling with lately.
Here’s the story: earlier this year, my DH, through no fault of his own (he is such an amazing man!), lost his job. If you’ve been through that experience, you know the roller-coaster of emotions that follows such a life-altering event. I don’t like roller-coasters, but this was one I had no choice but to ride! The painstakingly slow climb up the hill that takes forever, the crazy rush of hope at every possibility, the plunge into disappointment when it doesn’t work out, the twists and turns you weren’t expecting and don’t really welcome (hello, I thought we had already paid our car insurance bill through next year?!), all bringing you to a slow finish… right. back. where you started.
Oh yeah, and a massive headache to remember your thrilling ride of a lifetime.
And unlike real roller coaster rides where you get off at the end, this one just keeps looping around and around endlessly. What started out as a sprint has become a marathon, and it gets discouraging to say the least.
(Thank goodness for the “however”!)
However, I can say honestly and truthfully that while I – more often than I care to admit – have my moments of doubt, discouragement, and despair, I know most certainly that much good has come out of our jolting journey through unemployment. I can’t think of a single good thing about real roller coaster rides, but this life-size one has been used for good in our lives. We can see where God prepared us for it financially, mentally, and emotionally, and we can see how He has provided each need along the way.
Throughout this journey, I’ve had to fight against the depression that’s always threatening to take over my mind and heart, and as usual, God has used music as a source of encouragement and exhortation in my life. The following songs have been particularly meaningful to me in recent months, and I want to share them with you in the event that you, too, could use a little encouragement.
Note: I just want to mention that we are not destitute or on the streets or anything! I am working full-time as a teacher (a job I L-O-V-E!!!) and my DH has a PT job with health benefits that pays decently while he’s looking for a FT job. Plus, he’s taking the time to launch his own online graphic design business, something he’s been wanting to do for a really long while now. We’re not exactly rolling in dough, but we have enough to pay the bills and are excited about what the future holds!
1. Our God is in Control by Steven Curtis Chapman
Our God is in Control has been a go-to encouragement song for me ever since the CD, Beauty Will Rise, was originally released. The entire CD, in fact, is just one encouraging song after another! SCC wrote it after the devastating experience of losing his little girl in a car accident in his own driveway. Each song reminds you to look up and keep the big picture (the eternal one) in mind. I’ve even sung this particular song in church because it has meant so much to me.
2. Worn by Tenth Avenue North
This is the first song I ever heard from this group, and I was introduced to it by my friend Rachel. It comes from their CD, “The Struggle“, that is full of songs addressing the various struggles we go through in life. What I love about this song is how it so beautifully and clearly expresses how I feel sometimes when it seems like one more day of the same-old-same-old is just too much to take. I will say that it doesn’t do to focus on this song for long. Listen to it, identify with it, cry all the way through… and then listen to another song with a happier ending. You’ll never pick it all back up again if you stay where this song ends!
3. You Are I AM by Mercy Me
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I’ve been a big fan of Mercy Me for a long time now, and their CD, “The Hurt and the Healer” has become a very important one to me. It’s full of songs that speak to human suffering from a divine perspective, which is exactly the sort of song one needs to listen to in the middle of difficult times! This is one of those songs that you have to turn way up, lift your head, close your eyes, and raise your hands. (Even if you’re a Baptist. I mean it.) Instead of focusing on everything that’s wrong, it leads me to focus on Who God Is. He Is I Am, and that’s all I really need.
4. All Things Possible by Mark Shultz
Even my Certain Little Someone knows the words to this song and we both sing along whenever it comes on in the van. You just can’t help but be lifted up and encouraged after singing this song. It’s impossible! So sing it out, now! And also, “It Is Well” from the same CD (All Things Possible) is another uplifting super encouraging song. Put those two together and you can’t be beat!
5. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Psalms 37:3 is translated in the NKJV this way: Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. To me, that means learning that we exist only because of God’s faithfulness to us… but I also think it means focusing on and meditating on God’s faithfulness. If our mind is dwelling – feeding – on thoughts of God’s faithfulness, we cannot help but be lifted in spirit. To that end, I began singing the old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as I went around the house loading the dishwasher and whatnot. As I sang from my heart, it kind of fell into an arrangement of sorts, which I recorded here. (Although it feels a little weird recording myself like this… it’s just the easiest way to share with you what God has shared with me! Just ignore the unintentional twenties ‘do, the occasional “pitchy” note, and the computer glare on the mirror in the background. In fact, just close your eyes and listen to the message in the song.)