The day music saved my life

I’ll never forget what happened that night.

Change was on the horizon. I’d seen hints of it, like the first wisps of color in the sunrise, but the full light of day was yet to break.

And oh, how I needed light.

From the outside, you might not have thought I lived in darkness. Even now, I don’t know how close I was to the edge of the abyss.

I was 19, a college sophomore, majoring in mass communication, settling in to life “on my own.” But I was also insecure, desperate and lonely. For months, I had been clinging to a relationship that I knew — in my head — was over but that I wouldn’t let my heart let go. What I believed about myself was wrapped up in this relationship, and if it unraveled, I had nothing to fall back on. He told me I was pretty. I believed him. He said he loved me. I believed that, too. Then he broke my heart, and instead of picking up the pieces and putting myself back together, I let him break it again. And again.

That night, I was walking and talking with friends, appearing to have a good time but sinking in self-pity.

Light was dawning, but gray skies clouded my view.

We were on our way to a concert. A Christian concert by a band I’d never heard of. (They were local, though even if they weren’t, it wouldn’t have mattered. I wasn’t familiar with any Christian bands back then.) That I was attending a Christian concert was not shocking. In college, I adopted a casual practice of religion — a few  Sundays in church, some Bible reading, nothing changed about my day-to-day life — partly out of curiosity, mostly out of peer pressure. (The aforementioned heartbreaker was a regular churchgoer. You could say I blessed to impress.)

No, what was surprising was the company I was keeping. A mix of new friends and old, with the heartbreaker nowhere in sight. I was being pulled toward something, but I didn’t know what. All I knew was, it was different. My best friend was among us that night. Something had changed in her life, but I didn’t understand it, and those whom I thought would, were afraid of it.

But back to the concert. It rocked, literally. My parents were teenagers in the ’70s, so rock ‘n’ roll was part of my upbringing. I loved it. And music, in general. Songs had a way of speaking what I couldn’t, of expressing the emotions I felt deep inside, connecting me to others who struggled when I thought I was alone.

Is it any wonder, then, that music saved my life?

The band had pressed the pause button on the hard rock set and gave the lead singer a chance to showcase a ballad. Or so I thought. Every good rock band has a ballad or two in their set, right? We sat. And we listened as this guy, probably not a lot older than us, poured his heart out about a time when he felt lonely and unloved and let down. He had my attention. Then he sang, and though I can’t remember the words of the song, I’ll never forget what I felt, what I couldn’t ignore. This sense that I needed to stop caring about what other people would think of me and start caring about what God thinks of me. “Live your life for Me.” Those words filled my mind and pounded in my heart. I was in tears. I wasn’t alone. Somebody wanted me.

Life as I knew it was over. And it was just beginning. Dawn had come, at last.

I could tell you I never made another bad decision or lost my temper or sank into a pit of despair and self-pity. But I’d be lying.

Over time — 14 years now — God has changed me in ways I wouldn’t have thought possible. And He’s still working on me. He didn’t change everything that night, but what He did change made all the difference.

He gave me a purpose. A reason to live. I didn’t know exactly what it was at the time, but I knew He wanted me for me.

Jason Gray

A few nights ago, my husband and I took our kids to a concert. Music speaks to him, too. Two little ones and no room in our budget for concerts has created a gap in our lives. This concert was a treat. And a privilege. And it reminded me of that night so long ago that some days still seems like yesterday.

I made a decision that night to get to know Christ better. To live for Him. To follow Him. I asked my best friend to help me because I knew I was weak and would make excuses. (She did. She is still the truest of friends.)

Watching college kids at this recent concert, making declarations with their praise, I wondered if they knew what would be required of them in the years to come. I was humbly reminded that I didn’t back then, and if I had, I might not have signed up for this journey.

Music continues to speak to me, refreshing my soul, showing me Truth in new ways. I’m grateful for musicians, songwriters and singers who share their talents so that others can know Christ more.

It was fitting, though I almost didn’t realize it, that we could attend a concert this weekend, the anniversary of the day my life changed forever. Fitting also that God’s timing is both perfect and sometimes comical. That concert that changed my life — it happened near the heartbreaker’s birthday, a period of time I can’t forget if I tried.

In that week, my heart was broken, and it was mended.

I’m grateful for both.


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