To ring in 2019 and celebrate all that 2018 held for me, here is the continuation of my songs of 2018. My hope and prayer is that you may also be encouraged by my personal story over the course of this past year and by the songs I’ve come to associate with each month.
July: “Control” by for KING & COUNTRY – Entering into July, I carried a renewed sense of hope with me. But hope in what? Instead of fully hoping in Christ alone, I hoped that my original plans would miraculously fall into place: getting a last-minute spot into Baylor’s graduate program. Or that I would finally find a great job I qualified for somewhere in Minnesota (my birthplace and where most of my extended family resides), which would put my life of independence and purpose back on track. Though I didn’t hear “Control” until October when for King & Country’s new album was released, I wished I had had this song in July. It might have helped me let go of my plans for the future sooner. Near the end of July, I had a breakdown where, finally, I surrendered my will to His greater one.
August: “Let the Light In” by Francesca Battistelli – August was difficult emotionally for me. I felt worthless. I felt everyone had their lives together except me. I felt like I just couldn’t win. I didn’t really want to celebrate my birthday. “Let the Light In” was another song I wished I had available to me this month; I also heard it in October for the first time. Like my song for July, this song reflects my mental state and eventual victory in August. Late into the month, I started to recognize the lies I was clinging to about myself and my circumstances, which equipped me to fight against my depression.
September: “Pressing On” by Relient K – In September, I acted as if I had finally won against my hopelessness (give or take a few bumps), but in reality it was a façade. Any positivity I seemed to possess was simply a shaky veneer, hiding from the world and even from myself the fact that I still wasn’t okay. I still had doubts. I still felt low, deep down. Though “Pressing On” isn’t a song about denial, I feel like it speaks to what I wanted to be true. Its faster tempo matches my own “staying busy to ignore the hurt” philosophy. And, also, it expresses how I felt about reapplying to Baylor. I decided not to try again, under the philosophy that I just wasn’t good enough for my intended career. All lies, but ones that didn’t make me feel terrible all the time like the ones from August. They instead bolstered a false sense of joy and encouraged me to keep placing my hope in circumstances instead of in Christ.
October: “The Rain Keeps Falling” by Andrew Peterson – My forced optimism ran dry by October, leading me back to my constant weariness, sadness, and, at times, skepticism about life ever being awesome again. I felt isolated, miserable in most of my work, and like I would never rise out of the ashes. However, through Scripture, sermons, music, family, and friends, God kept reaching out to me. “The Rain Keeps Falling” reminds me of my October journey: struggling, feeling stuck, crying out to God, but then, at the end, quietly an answer comes. October began my upswing, and this time, it was a true one. I felt Hopeful—not founded in circumstances, but in Jesus Christ and His perfect peace.
November: “Good as it Gets” by Francesca Battistelli – November began with Baylor Homecoming, which helped me realize how good my life truly is. I was finally able to let go to the vain hope that I needed a miracle: a door opening wide to my future to lift me out of my depression. But no circumstances could change my joy and hope. Everything fails except for Christ. Christ is the only thing worthy of placing my hope in. Francesca Battistelli’s “Good as it Gets” reflects this Truth, and became my daily prayer and song of worship in November.
December: “In Like a Lion (Always Winter)” by Relient K – For me, December is always a month filled with merriment and retrospection upon the previous year. I love the Christmas season, particularly seeing Christmas lights late at night: flickers of hope, like the stars that shone above Bethlehem the night of Christ’s birth. The brightest star signaling Christ’s arrival into the world to save us all. An image of hope I rejoice in year after year, and a fitting one to reflect upon following my year-long battle to restored hope in Him. December’s song is a Christmas one, but an unusual Christmas one: “In Like a Lion (Always Winter).” Since December is my month of looking back upon the year, I picked this song as a depiction my entire 2018. Overall, this was a year of “winter” for me, but throughout all of it, Christ renewed my hope and drew me closer to Him.
Difficult as this year has been for me, I’m very thankful for 2018. Though perhaps I still don’t have a “practical” answer for my future, I have the only answer I need: Jesus is sufficient. Going in 2019, I am more sure of that than ever before. All is well with my soul, even in the midst of the storm.
Happy New Year, friends.