Saturday, February 29, 2020

My Very Human Reaction to Jonathan McReynolds' "People"

If you ask me who my favorite artist is, without hesitation, my reply will be, “Jonathan McReynolds.” I’ve been #TeamLifeMusic since 2014, and it seems as though his pen gets more oily with every album. From “No Gray” on 2012’s Life Music to “Comparison Kills” on 2018’s Make Room, Jonathan has always had a unique way of humanizing the Christian experience. Last Friday, he released a single that, in my opinion, is his most human song yet—and, quite fittingly, it’s called “People.”

Image source: iTunes

The first time I heard “People,” I was caught off guard, because the track begins with a chorus of voices—not singing, but talking. It’s a muffled jumble of words we might hear in a public place, like a mall or a crowded hallway or city street. It’s hard to make out everything that’s being said, but the first thing I hear is, “People think they can just say anything nowadays, and I don’t understand it,” followed by “I don’t think you’re good enough,” and, “I just don’t believe Christians.” And then, “Maybe your music could be a little bit more spiritual.” As Jonathan begins to hum, another voice says, “You’re just a bit too...different.” And another: “I don’t like it.” And yet another: “You should take my advice.” Finally, “I just expected more from you...” I paused here and said, “Makes sense so far: A song called ‘People’ that’s clearly about, well, people.” Pressed play, and Jonathan’s “Shhh...” silenced the crowd of voices. And then, the first verse. I wasn’t ready! *Kevin Hart voice*:

They are the best and the worst You’ve created
Loving and hating and opinionated
Loners in basements and those congregated
Deliver me...


Me: “Wow, Jon. DEEP, straight out of the gate. Whether loving or hating, on computers in their basements or in the pews of the church, everybody always has an opinion, solicited or otherwise.”


Far from the peaceful shore I was sinking
Deep in the ocean of thoughts they were thinking
Don’t know what validation I was seeking
Deliver me from
People, people...


Me: “WHEW! This! Why do we drown ourselves in their thoughts? Why do we crave their validation so badly? And who are “they,” anyway?”


When You said You could heal me from anything
Did You mean people?
Deliver me

‘Cause I can’t point ‘em out
I won’t say their names
I don’t know the damage
Or which one to blame
It’s just people, people
Deliver me...


At this point, I had tears in my eyes, because the chorus made me remember who “they” were for me: The children who bullied me mercilessly from kindergarten through twelfth grade, some of whom I didn’t identify until I was in my early 20s, and a few I still don’t know about. Kids used to pick on me because, due to a mild case of cerebral palsy, I walk with a slight limp and my eyes wander a little. I had buried that pain years ago with no intention of ever digging it up again, but here comes this song. Jon, if you’re reading this, stop writing my life! I can’t deal.

*deep breath*


She was the reason I smiled in the morning
He took the last bit of joy I was storing
That’s too much power for anything human
Deliver me...


These lyrics made me think about how much of the bullies’ negativity I had internalized. I brushed it off as it was happening years ago, but this song brought it back, and it really stung. The reason I chose to shrug it off back then was because, as much as it hurt me, I refused to give them power...but ignoring it doesn’t make the pain go away. The song’s bridge helped me make sense of it all:

The hurt are hurting
And the broken are breaking
And the ones who had their joy taken away
Are out here taking
From other people...


Hurt people hurt people, and broken people break others. Because the world didn’t give me my joy, the world can’t take it away...but the world tried to. People are people, and they do people-ish things, but the song itself isn’t about people at all. The song is about how the people-ish ways of the world and the focus on all the things we expect “them” to do and be for us causes us to take our eyes off of the Father. If we allow “their” voices to be louder than His voice because of our people-ish tendencies, we will inadvertently start to become “them.” In 2 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV), God’s Word commands us, “Come out from them and be separate...Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” So Lord, “Forgive me when I’m one of those people.” Deliver me...not just from them, but from me, too.

In Jesus’ name,


Check out “People” below, and make sure you’ve got tissue close by. You’ll need it.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Happy Singles Awareness Day! I usually post around Valentine's Day every year about how excited and optimistic I am for the future, anticipating the day when God sends me a husband. This year, though, I'm not nearly as pressed as I used to be, and I’ve been digging a little deeper to really figure out why I want to be married. I'll admit, I'm a hopeless romantic, but I don't just want a nice wedding. I want a marriage that lasts. And if you don't know your "why" before you say "I do," you'll be tempted to say "I don't" when times get tough. In marriage, the "yes" should be unconditional and ongoing. One huge reason I desire to be married is because I believe that intimate companionship is important. Not only that, but there’s purpose attached to marriage. Marriage is a ministry. We are all called to minister in different ways, but regardless of where a person is called to serve, every ministry begins in the home. The first person to reap the benefits of my close relationship with God is myself; the second person who reaps those benefits is my spouse. As God pours into me, I become better equipped to pour into my husband, and vice versa. The way we pour into each other will affect how we pour into our children. Our pour into them will affect how they pour into the people in their world, and before we know it, our marriage ministry will have global impact.

With that being said, before I settle down, I have to make sure I’m not settling. There is a difference. Let’s go apple picking.

Image source: Trip Advisor

Personally, I love the juicy crispness of a perfectly ripe apple—but it wasn’t until recently that I considered what happens between the time it’s picked off the tree and the first bite. Before it lands in the produce section at the local grocery store, it must first be inspected. For example, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, the highest grade of apple, called U.S. Extra Fancy, must be “mature but not overripe, clean, fairly well formed, free from decay, internal browning, internal breakdown, soft scald, scab, freezing injury, visible water core, and broken skins. The apples are also [deemed to be] free from injury caused by bruises” and so on and so forth before they are approved for sale and consumption. If you read between the lines, this is a whole word! 

Apple picking is not a casual task. Single ladies, when you examine the fruitfulness of a man, look closely! Make sure he’s pulled together and well-formed, whatever that looks like to you. I mean, c’mon, sis, you’ve gotta look at him every day! 😂 All jokes aside, though, being “well-formed” on the outside is cool, but the inside is even more important. A wise man once said, “Don’t get so caught up in how they’re formed that you miss what they’re full of” (shoutout to Pastor Keith Battle)! A “grade A” man is mature, but not overbearing, and able to lead well. Look at his heart and make sure it’s not decaying; rotting and breaking down under the weight of his past, self-doubt, and/or malice. Most apple inspectors steer clear of scabs and bruises, but in this case, as humans, we should extend grace. A man can have scabs and bruises and still be considered “grade A.” Scabs and scars indicate that he has healed in some areas and is still healing in others. Just make sure he’s not trying to reopen old wounds. He may have been hurt before, so his water core—his tears—may only be visible to you. If he trusts you enough to be vulnerable with you, you should be honored. In human terms, a “visible water core” is a good thing. It means his heart hasn’t experienced a freezing injury. It may have been broken before, but it’s still warm, which means he has the capacity to give you the love you deserve. Some types of healing can only take place within the marital covenant. God will teach you how to deal with that.

Keep in mind that nobody’s perfect, but it’s very important to choose wisely! The same goes for the fellas. The fruit your future spouse bears is the fruit your future seeds will eat...and what they eat, they will produce. If you need a reminder of how one bad apple spoiled the whole bunch (literally all of mankind), just flip back to the story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. How do you like them apples?