Growing Pains (Behind the song)

Arguably one of the most painfully honest songs I’ve ever written. A song about wrestling with Faith and Life and the so called ‘Dark night of the soul’.

This is not typical of the songs I usually write, or at least not the ones that are aired publicly. But it is one I couldn’t shift from my mind and so I thought I’d share it. But I also wanted to share something of why I wrote it. I hope this makes sense…

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently about how worship and emotion relate. Much of our worship expression, both personal and corporate, seems to be laden with emotional attributes – whether it’s heart wrenching, soul searching songs that make you cry or euphoric, explosive, passionate celebrations and declarations of who God is and what he’s done and is doing. There’s nothing wrong with those aspects. There is a danger of emotional manipulation in certain settings, but that’s another discussion for another time.

This song emerged from the question: What happens when the feelings go? How do I express my faith when I’m not sure if God’s even listening? Why do I feel so disconnected but at the same time so unable to just let it go and walk away?

“There’s something drawing me I can’t ignore.”

This ‘something’ is life changing, it is turning and is going to turn your life upside-down. It’s going to wreck your comfortable life and rearrange everything. But the troubling part is that the God who is the initiator of this chaotic turmoil seems to have gone AWOL. He’s very quiet on the subject and has been for some time. Suddenly the emotional aspect of worship seems redundant, like sending flowers to someone who’s not answering the door.

You know somewhere in the back of your mind that he is still God and the faith you have left, to which you’re clinging by your fingertips, still wants to believe that he’s there and he’s still faithful (if a tad silent) and he’s still worthy of worship so you worship anyway… but it hurts.

At least it hurts for a while, and then it becomes numb.
Am I losing my faith?
Is the God I once trusted just a figment of my own imagination?
I can’t see him, feel him, sense him, hear him… did I make him up? Did I build my life and my identity around an ‘imaginary friend’?

But what if…

What if it’s not the death of your faith that is hurting, it’s the growth?
What if it’s not the destruction of your faith that is uncomfortable, it’s the development?
What if it’s growing pains.

The most uncomfortable analogy I could muster was that of a snake shedding its skin. It needs to grow and develop in order to survive, and in order to do that the snake needs to take off anything that hinders that growth. It cannot stay sheathed in old skin – skin that served its purpose for a period, but that needs to make way for more developed, more mature, more resilient, more defined, stronger, tougher, wiser skin. And that process, I imagine, is awkward, uncomfortable, vulnerable but ultimately healthy.

If you’re going through this horrible time too, then let me somewhat reassure you, we are not alone! So many of the Psalms wrestle with this, thousands of people have wreslted with this throughout history. High Profile ‘SuperChristians’ have struggled with God’s tendency to go quiet on us: Ecclesiastes is full of it, King David wrote Psalms about it, St John of the Cross called it the ‘Dark night of the soul’, Mother Theresa was constantly challenged by it – so we’re in good company.

Just because he’s not constantly reaffirming them audibly, the promises God made us about never leaving or forsaking us are still true and good.
Faith is more than that fuzzy feeling. ‘Lurking doubts unsettle but the faith they breed is real’.


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