Music is one of the most powerful tools in existence to move a person’s heart. Songs provide context for emotions, feelings, concepts, impressions, and they often express what we feel inside or know with particularly articulate and empathetic passion. Within each of us, we have our own personal stories and meanings that we have yet to fully express and release. Those are songs of power. Songs of life. Songs of grief. And songs of love. It’s a connection to those songs that can unlock the deeper meaning within us and give voice to our true inner self.
One of my favorite quotes from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is the following advice given to the bright young protagonist Kvothe:
“Remember this son, if you forget everything else: A poet is a musician who can’t sing. Words have to find a man’s mind before they can touch his heart. And, some men’s minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly, no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens.”
The Head and the Heart
The relationship between the head and the heart is a deep mystery. Time, meditation, spiritual openness, and most of all love gives us the power to bridge this gap safely. However, accessing the heart forcefully via the mind, sheer will, strong emotion, or lostness of heart can be negative, ineffective, and damaging.
But what of things that speak directly to the heart via inspiration and truth? Can we bypass teaching our heart with pain or logic and instead speak to our hearts out of wholeness? Rothfuss says, “Music touches hearts directly.” Music can carry a battle cry yet it can also bring peace to calm all storms and comfort a tired and lonely soul. There are deeper aspects in music than the mere entertainment value. So let your heart be surrounded by song and truth and let it be moved! Pain will be released! Wandering will cease. Numbness will fade. And your heart will slowly transform, like the slow melting of a glacier that brings life-giving water to the world.
Influences On A Heart
As an adult, many of us have gone through physical, emotional, and spiritual trials. Music often expresses understanding and gives meaning to those trials. So, the bigger question is, what are we listening for?
Do we want to learn? To satiate our curiosity? To soothe our souls? We can go deeper than that. What are we really listening for?
Answers? Attitudes? Vindication? Hope? Identity? A sense of love? Someone to give us approval or security to stand up for ourselves? A means of expression? To be known? To be related to?
To find out what is “wrong with us”? To know our struggles are not ours alone? To know reality? To connect to others? Once you are aware of what your soul and spirit long for, you begin to see definition and pattern to all elements of your life.
My Personal Influences
While I was growing up, I had an affinity for music that was timeless in nature. What I know now is that during my listening, my heart was learning deep principles of the human experience that I had yet to fully grasp or understand by personal experience. My early musical influences were more often than not strong expressions of human emotion that sowed a yearning into my heart for meaning and richer existence:
- Soulful classical music such as Dvorack’s “Serenade for Strings”, Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”, Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Flourence” were unspoken melodies of passion and being a voice as part of a whole symphony
- Staind‘s expressions of angst and struggle depicted emotional suffering and not being able to connect to what we truly desire (14 Shades of Grey)
- Kansas sang of self-realization, asking questions and gaining perspective in a spiritual journey (“The Wall”)
- Shinedown‘s raw anthems to live with inner strength beat heavily in my heart so that one day I would remember to fight with the same resolve (Leave A Whisper, especially “Fly From the Inside” and “Burning Bright”)
- Alter Bridge cast the trials of the inner human experience and let me feel the weight and languish of my darker side. I felt the end of myself. Yet, even in darkness I should be aware and fight for renewal and rebirth into honesty and purity (“Find the Real”, “Broken Wings”, “Shed My Skin”, One Day Remains, ABIII and Fortress)
A New Influence On My Heart and Spirit
In 2012, things moved forward from the soul-angst and believing in something better for myself to actually knowing I could experience it in all the fullness of my hopes. I remember when I first starting going to church again and I simply began crying when I sang. “From The Inside Out” by Hillsong was a song on my heart and in my soul. To express it was a powerful experience. The song humbly depicts our place as humans to lose ourselves in God. He is the everlasting, and the light and glory of the world, and we get to experience it! We yearn to cry out to live honestly, purely, in loving justice and to praise Him from inside our very being, where we then find rest. Oh, how our heart cries out to know true goodness and true love! Surely only a divine being brings those who seek Him into purity, holiness, and reverence.
Worship music, based on biblical truth, is the ultimate song of our hearts. Worship music isn’t just endless songs about how we should love God. True worship reveals the truth about God and our relationship with Him in order for us to respond. God’s promises and Scripture are a core foundation of worship. Worship helps us trust and believe in our hearts the fullness of who God is and His devoted Love toward us. Faith is more than an intellectual assent, but a transformational experience. Our hearts soften and move into postures of love and longing to know and be in the presence of God. The music also serves as a conduit to confession and repentance, and an ushering to cry out and be close to the Father in humility and vulnerability. Worship music is designed to be informational as much as it is expressive, and through it, we are taught a form in which to sing our prayers!
Additionally, worship music that is based on a biblical love-relationship with God reveals what is possible for us to have with God. If we don’t have a relationship with God like the songs that we are singing, then the songs should be a challenge to us to know God in a deeper way and to experience the relationship the songs are talking about. Our hearts need to ask God to open our eyes in how to have a relationship with Him. It is often through hardship and the different seasons of our life that forge a deeper relationship with God when we rely on Him because the circumstances and journey of life takes us to places we could or would never take our self. However, no matter where we are at, our heart can always soften to God and we need to learn to rely on Him in vital dependence; when we don’t live this way and our heart gets hardened through self sufficiency and pride, we lack the depth and heart relationship with God we truly need – and the one we sing about.
Sharing The Truth
With the same intensity that my heart has listened to timeliness music, my heart and soul listens for the timeless truth about God and our lives with Him. My heart desires for you to know God as well and develop a personal relationship with Him.
How? Listening to truth about Him. Then, step into a fuller relationship with God by being a part of a life-giving church and living an accountable lifestyle with others. The journey will be toward a new level wholeness found in God, making you healthier, more effective, and growing to (spiritual) maturity.
Being part of a life-giving church not only whets your appetite for relevant truth (the Bible and its practical purposes), but also allows you to serve with others. Serving is critical in experiencing spiritual refreshment and you’ll be amazed that the more your pour out in church, the more you will feel fulfilled. Being part of a life group, a small group of people that you do life with by mutually encouraging and challenging each other, is rewarding as you begin to walk out the spiritual life. As you develop and mature, living accountably provides the foundation for truth, confession, and real human connection. Just as God’s spirit lives within us, His spirit lives within others, and that same spirit unifies the body of Christ (us) into sharpening and serving one another in love.
I have compiled a Spotify playlist that is filled with truth about God and our relationship to Him in Love. Please listen and let your heart move! We established that music touches the heart no matter the mind of the one who listens. What a gift. You’ll have a great soundtrack for the journey! May it lead you deeper into knowing God.
Use this link to my public playlist to open it in a browser without having to click on the player application below.
My personal favorites:
Bethel Music We Will Not Be Shaken
Meredith Andrews Worth It All
Bethel Music You Make Me Brave
Hillsong Young & Free
Leeland Christ Be All Around Me
Jesus Is: The Music Project
and many others.
Note: To access the playlist, you have to have an account to Spotify (a free account works).