I’m learning a lot of new songs lately.
It started when I rode in Guy’s truck that first time I visited him in Kentucky. I remember him turning the radio on and stopping at what I would say sounded like a twangy, old, country song from decades ago that no one would know now. I laughed at how horrible it sounded, mentally shaking my head that anyone would ever want to listen to this nastiness!
I looked over at Guy to laugh along with him. But he wasn’t trying to be funny.
What? He actually liked this song?!
I turned toward the window, not wanting him to see my eyebrows crinkle and my lips purse. It was painful. Oww! No, I can’t possibly listen to this! But we had just started dating, and I didn’t want to knock something he clearly loved.
So I sat in it, marinating in the sour sound waves of a type of country music that was nowhere to be found on the radio stations I knew.
But then Guy started to sing along, with whom I would later learn was Merle Haggard, and I sneakily turned my ear toward him. I listened to the deep sound of his voice and the sentimental words he was singing, which were both quite charming.
First time we met is a favorite memory of mine
They say time changes all it pertains to
But your memory is stronger than time
I guess everything does change except what you choose to recall
There’s a million good daydreams to dream on
But baby, you are my favorite memory of all
“They don’t write thoughtful love songs like that anymore, do they?” I said as I smiled and hummed along with the chorus.
Now, here we are a year later. We’re getting married next week, and doggonit if I didn’t just express disappointment over the fact that I didn’t buy that old Dolly Parton record we saw at Half Price Books last week!
Old country songs aren’t the only new songs I’m singing these days. Thanks to a sweet 8-year-old girl and a sweet 11-year-old girl whose first action upon entering my car is to plug in the old phone with their downloaded music, I am staying up-to-date on the most recent girly pop music, too. I can belt a little Meghan Trainor and Bruno Mars with the best of ‘em!
Even at church, I am learning new songs with new styles, new leaders, new people next to me in the rows. The Audience is the same, and that’s why I sing them in the first place.
We can learn to sing new songs. New songs have to be taught to us. Slowly. Or by modeling. For me, there’s usually a lot of repetition involved, and for years, I drove my sisters crazy in the car because as I’d learn a new song on the radio, I’d mumble along, even when I didn’t know the words. But that’s how I learn new songs!
It’s been said that music is the language of the soul. There’s something about music that goes deeper into us. The music I listen to shapes me, and the words my ears hear my own lips proclaim become part of my belief system.
I think this is why the songs we sing are so important. I think that’s why the Bible talks about songs and singing a lot.
The Lord is my strength and my song… (Ex. 15:2)
David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. (2 Sam. 22:1)
And each morning and evening they stood before the Lord to sing songs of thanks and praise to him. (1 Chor. 23:30)
Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise. (Job 36:24)
You surround me with songs of victory. (Ps. 32:7)
Our mouths were made to praise Him! Our ears need to hear us praise Him. Our souls are glad to praise Him.
Though we are not always in seasons of rejoicing, are we? Sometimes it’s easy to sing happy songs, and other times we feel we have nothing to sing about.
But those are the times we know that God is about to teach us some new songs.
Three years ago this month, I was watching my son die. Two years ago this month, I was watching my marriage die. There were many tears and restless nights. The thought of singing happy songs made my heart crumble.
So, I sang sad songs. Sad songs are okay, too. In fact, the greatest gift some of my closest friends gave me during those years is that they did not try to come in with a pep talk and tell me how it would eventually get better (even though they knew that it would). Instead, they took the advice of Proverbs 25:20.
“Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart
is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather
or pouring vinegar in a wound.”
In those moments, they didn’t say, “but look at all the things you can be grateful for” and they didn’t come share their happy news of babies and marriages just yet.
The way my friends showed me love was by being willing to be sad next to me. They learned the sad song I was singing in those months, and they sang along.
Because sometimes, even with Hope, you just need to sing a sad song.
And because He promises the darkness will not last forever.
“The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” Psalm 34:17-19
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11-12
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord”. Psalm 40:1-3
After all that pain, the Lord has turned my mourning into joy. The Bible mentions the phrase “new song” nine different times, and I am so thankful that I no longer am singing only the sad songs. I have seen how the Lord used the pain for good, and I have something to sing about – for one, I’m getting married next week to the man I love! I have put my trust in God, and I am amazed.
This new song feels good to sing. Really, really good.
I wonder what song God has given you to sing in this season. Are you in a season of joy and gratitude? Sing loud! Are you experiencing grief? Sing your sad song, whisper it even. Perhaps you are in great moments of change. Can you sing a trusting song anyway? God has given each of us a song for today. Are we singing it? Are we willing to learn the new songs He wants to teach us, too? Are we aware that the songs we are singing are being picked up and hummed along by those around us? The songs we sing matter.
But life is not like a movie, is it? I wish I could say to you, “…and Molly and Guy lived happily ever after.” But happily ever after isn’t promised to us until Jesus returns.
In the meantime, there will still be life. I will be learning many new songs even as we go from here. Songs titled, “How Do Four People Produce So Much Laundry?” and “Ode to the Days When I Had Too Much Alone Time” and “Oh, Hey! I Found Another Pet Hair in my Food.”
I know the Lord will continue to teach me new songs as I take on the roles of wife, stepmom, and small town resident. Learning these songs will take time, lots of repetition, and I’ll probably awkwardly mumble along until I get the words right.
I want to learn these new songs. I want to keep learning new songs of joy, courage, and faith.
Because I can see there will also be songs titled, “Redemption” and “Belly Laughs” and “I Never Knew Love Could Feel This Good.”
And those are the songs I can’t wait to sing at the top of my lungs.
Well, those…and Merle.