I did not make it, no it is making me

March 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm (Life) (, , , , , )

Author’s note: this post was originally going to be about a specific Rich Mullins song and how it pretty much sums up all I believe concerning my Christian faith. I was going to write a short segment telling why I hadn’t listened to Rich in so long and then move onto the song. As you can see by the length of the post, that isn’t what happened. Instead, what came out was a story about loss and rediscovering something that meant a lot to you.

This story talks a lot about a girl who hurt me immensely, but it isn’t about me pining over her. That’s not my life. Not anymore. I’m madly in love with someone and I am excited about our future, but at the same time, no one’s past can be forgotten. However, my past no longer has the hold on me it used to. I’ve come a long way, baby.

Oddly, I think the original title for the post is still fitting, so I’ll leave it.

A few years ago, I lost the ability to listen to certain music. No, not physically, emotionally. I was in a relationship that ended up costing me a lot and causing a lot of pain. Music played a big part in our lives and we were constantly introducing each other to our favorite musicians. Three artists that played a big part in our lives, our relationship, and even our spirituality were U2, Rich Mullins, and David Wilcox

U2 has been my favorite band probably since 5th grade. That was 1988, for those of you who don’t know my age. Oddly, U2 was a big part of our lives. The girl and I toured together with a theatre and I was constantly playing them when I drove (of course). She was like a few others I’ve met, who dismiss the band because of their high-profile lead singer. I admit, Bono can be a bit much for some people, but I’ve always admired him because he uses his celebrity status to bring good change to the world…but I won’t get on my Bono soapbox. Not for this post, anyway.

After the tour ended, we didn’t see each other for 5 or 6 months, and didn’t really communicate much during the first 3 months. Once we did start talking again, she mentioned that she had a number of U2 albums. She said she thought, “You know, Jeremy’s a pretty smart guy and we have some similar tastes in music. I’ll give this U2 a shot.” And when she did, when she looked beyond Bono’s persona, she recognized amazing musical talent and deep, thoughtful, spiritual lyrics. In the 3 years we were together, she joined the U2 fan club, she read U2 at the End of the World, she bought us tickets to see them play in Philadelphia…twice. She poured herself into this discovery like any new convert, soaking up as much as she could. Needless to say, U2 became intertwined with her and many memories became tied to U2 songs. When she left me, she took U2 from me. It was almost a year later before I could listen to them with any regularity and to this day I’d say I listen to them probably 1/10th of the amount I used to. I mean, when I hear the opening lines of “City of Blinding Lights,” how could I forget Bono looking right into her face as he sang them at the concert in 2005? But for the last few weeks, U2 has been a constant companion on my iPod at work.

Rich Mullins was another artist I gave her. Quite literally. In the summer of 2003, I lived in New Mexico and she lived in Montana. We met one weekend in Flaming Gorge, Utah. Man, what a great name! As I was leaving the campsite to drive back home, I went to my car and got Rich’s album A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band. From the moment I heard it, I have thought it was the most beautiful album I’ve ever heard. I still hold that belief. I think she found that album to be nothing like any Christian music she had heard before. I knew the feeling. I was raised on Sandi Patti, Amy Grant, Michael English, etc. When I first heard his album The World as Best as I Remember It, Vol. 1 in 1991 I was floored. I remember Jason and I talking about how amazing it was and that we’d never heard music like this. I mean, it starts with a single kid from a boy’s choir, come on!

So she listened to that album and heard the beauty of it. As a musician herself, she was often touched by others talent in ways I’ve rarely seen. So between Rich Mullins and me, she started thinking again, “Jeremy’s a smart guy. He doesn’t seem to hold onto beliefs just because they were taught to him. He’s nice and loving and kind, not like other Christians I’ve known (and that, my fellow Christians, is sad). Maybe there’s something to these beliefs. Maybe there’s something to the things this musician sings about, too.” So she started opening her mind to spirituality/Christianity.

Over the years, we had numerous talks about God, Jesus, religion. She began going to church and we’d talk about the sermons she heard, the music they sang. We started talking about Rich’s lyrics, too. And again, a musician became intertwined with a person whom I would lose and would take much from me. Two months ago, I finally did something I hadn’t been able to do in years. I put all of Rich Mullins’ albums onto my computer so I could start listening to them again. I had not heard Rich since the summer of 2005 and it was time to welcome an old friend back into my life now that I am over her.

David Wilcox was the other musician I lost to her. I introduced her to him via his song “Show the Way” and she cried. We were in a hotel in Huntsville, Alabama, though I don’t know why I remember that.

Again, she poured herself into this new music. As a folk singer herself, she loved his style, his beauty. She also loved the way his Christian beliefs about the world and loving those around you easily crept into his lyrics without him being labeled a “Christian singer.” We’d sing his songs together. She learned to play some of them on the guitar. We discussed his lyrics at length. Again, intertwined. And she got us tickets to see him play in a very small, intimate venue. I met David after that show, though I had seen him play twice before. The show was in Pennsylvania and I told him I was from Shelby, NC and we talked a little about NC (he’s from Asheville). It was an amazing thing to meet someone whom I’d followed for years.

We had actually been broken up a month when we went to see David perform. I’m not sure why I thought I could handle it. He played in a small restaurant that maybe set 150 people. Very intimate, very personal. During “Show the Way” she cried. During most of the last half of the concert, I wanted to, but for different reasons. I’ve never listened to David Wilcox since then. Last week I got his album Airstream, and guess what…

I’m okay.

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