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Church issues,  Re-thinking theology

PINK says what many of us are afraid to – the tie between God and the song, What about us?

The true meaning behind Pink’s new song, What about us? has become quite the topic of discussion.

The first time I heard the song, it resonated with me, but I wasn’t exactly sure why.

Johnny McDaid, one of the co-writers, said in an interview with Billboard, “sometimes when you’re writing a song you don’t know what it’s about until it tells you”.

I know this language. It’s what writers say when they feel that they have a deep message inside them, but don’t exactly know what it is, or how to express it until they sit down and start the creative process. Somewhere in that process, the message comes to life and starts speaking. A beautiful exchange takes places, where the message becomes the story and you become the story teller.

It’s a powerful moment.

Although, Alecia Beth Moore (aka Pink) has yet to reveal the message behind this chart topping song, I made sure to pay close attention to the lyrics the next time I heard it.

I did.

My jaw fell open.

Tears filled my eyes.

And I said, “oh my gosh…she gets it”

This song isn’t just another song – it’s a heart cry.

I believe that’s why it resonates with such a vast amount of people and why overnight I became a Pink fan.

What her heart cry is, I can only speculate. But, to me, it sounds like a haunting, honest, gut-wrenching heart cry between the human soul and God.

Here’s what I mean:

(Excerpt from the lyrics)

 

We are searchlights, we can see in the dark

We are rockets, pointed up at the stars

We are billions of beautiful hearts

And you sold us down the river too far

 

What about us?

What about all the times you said you had the answers?

What about us?

What about all the broken happy ever afters?

What about us?

What about all the plans that ended in disaster?

What about love? What about trust?

What about us?

 

We are problems that want to be solved

We are children that need to be loved

We were willin’, we came when you called

But man, you fooled us, enough is enough

 

Tears streamed down my face as I identified with so much of this.

I’ve heard it said that those outside the “church” have no understanding in their views or perspectives towards Godly things.

I sincerely believed this for a long time.

But, over the course of my journey, I came to disagree.

I believe we are all made in the image of God. All searching to connect with God. And all carrying similar fears, longings, questions and pain.

The difference is those “in the world” just have more freedom to be honest about it.

These lyrics – whether intended or not – carry a message that so much of mankind feels towards God.

It’s just those of us inside church walls are scared to say them out loud.

We are afraid to admit that we question God’s decisions. That we question his love. That we question whether or not we can fully trust. We are afraid to admit that we are angry, hurt and disappointed.

Although we’re afraid to share these things out loud, the truth is most of us feel them in our heart.

When I heard the song I heard the inner dialogue of the family who has “done everything right” and gets news of cancer. The person whose spouse cheats. The teen who is bullied and alone. The man whose business fails. The mom who learns her child has been diagnosed.

It describes so many moments in my own story where I thought I did everything right and yet everything fell apart. When I thought I had obeyed and “pleased God” only to end up in a pile of heartache. It describes every moment I watched a family member die and every time I buried a dream of what “could have been”. It describes every time I walked away with a heavy pit in my stomach of grief and bitterly shook my fist at heaven.

It describes me.

It describes you.

It describes all of us.

The bad news is that all of us have felt disappointed or let down by God. (If someone tells you they haven’t, don’t listen to them – they are probably trying to sell you something, or trying to get you to tithe. Seriously. Just walk away)

The good news is this:

There was a moment for me when I realized that I didn’t want to serve a God like that. One who I had to torment myself in order to please and earn favor from. One who would withhold blessings from me if I missed the mark. One who I had to smile with “joy” for even when my heart was gutted with pain. One who I had to try to impress in order to receive the outcome I desperately hoped for.

This message crushes. It utterly destroys people’s emotional and mental health and positions them in a lifetime game of cat and mouse.

That kind of God cannot be the real deal.

THAT CANNOT BE IT.

I came to a realization that revolutionized the game for me.

That kind of God was not who I knew inside my room. It was not who filled the pages of my journals. The kind of God I knew was different…very different. He was safe, inviting, merciful, giving, comforting and kind.

For the longest time I could not reconcile the two.

But, this is what finally connected the dots for me: I remembered what Jesus did.

When he was speaking to people, he did not ask them to fast or starve themselves in order to hear his voice. Instead, he fed them. And he did not give food based on their levels of rightness. He fed ALL of them equally. He nourished their bodies while feeding their souls.

When he saw people grieving, he wept with them. He did not ask them to rejoice in their suffering. Instead he wept with them. He mourned too.

When he encountered people with delicate stories, he did not withhold his presence or his time until they “corrected their behavior”. He did the opposite. He stopped what he was doing to connect with them and listen to them. He did specific acts to make them feel worthy when the world around them told them they were not.

And when people picked on others, he did not join the majority. Instead, he defended the weak and the outcast. He fought for their dignity and respect.

I realized that the God I had so often been told about wasn’t God at all. It had fragments of God, but at the core was mainly fear.

The God I knew inside my inner being looked a lot more like Jesus. It was real, tangible, steady and so very, very safe.

Safe enough to shake my fist at.

Safe enough to scream at.

Safe enough to drop f-bombs at.

Safe enough to run to and hide in when I feel like my world is crumbling.

Safe enough to trust when it leads me away from the norm and encourages me to be brave.

Safe enough to believe when it says I’m enough.

So,  what about us?

What about all of our broken dreams and unhappy ever afters?

I believe in a God who weeps in our broken dreams and hurts for our unhappy ever afters. And who isn’t afraid of our questions and our anger about all of it. And that it’s okay to not have all the answers.

In the words (ie lyrics) of Pink,

 

It’s the start of us, waking up come on

Are you ready? I’ll be ready

I don’t want control, I want to let go

 

Couldn’t have said it better.

Anna

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Author. Blogger. Speaker. Momma to 4.

23 Comments

  • jessica prescott

    One of the most powerful gifts my psychological counselor ever gave me was to look me in the eye and ask me this question:

    “Can you question God and still have a relationship with Him?”

    And, as corny as it may sound–my life changed forever when I realized the answer was a resounding YES.

  • Kate

    I agree. God is bigger than any of our questions, doubts or fears. He sees them even if we don’t admit them so what’s the point in denying them. I believe that is why He calls David a man after His own heart. David was so far from perfect but He was honest, sincere and open about his fears, faults, doubts, etc.

  • pearlgirl

    I absolutely love this! It reminds me a lot of The Cure (awesome book, btw). So often our understanding of God is skewed by “holy” people who clean the outside without paying any attention to the inside. And I think that breaks God’s heart too, because He wants to comfort us, but can’t if we won’t let Him. Letting Him in means being real. The truth is what sets us free, and sometimes the truth can involve a lot of pain, brokenness, and not being okay.

  • Deb Behm

    Oh this broke me in a beautiful way today – thank you Anna! I’ve been having “those sorts” of moments lately – moments you don’t speak of in church, the doubts, the fears, the loneliness, the anger… all of the ugly. Being reminded of what Christ did and said and how He behaved helped me reconcile a bit. I know God loves us, but in the hard ugly moments it’s hard to feel it.

  • Chañel Robe

    Anna, you hit the nail on the head! This is something that I’ve been struggling to validate over the last few weeks, reconciling my/our idea of God to who He actually is.

    • Anna McCarthy

      Validating that inner knowing can be bumpy, but there is so much beauty in it. The brave souls who venture down that path always rise stronger on the other side. Hugs to you!!

  • Debbie L

    This is beautiful and I am sending it to a friend in these shoes! When she received the news of yet another cancer, she crumbled. She was one of the original ones who when chemical free, all natural foods, covered her skin in SPF clothes (since she lived in the sun as a child – and wouldn’t you know she developed melanoma). But she had left the Lord and this second cancer brought her back….but she still questions Him. Of course, I remind her Jesus said in this world you will have trouble….and to rejoice in all things….and that the testing of our faith develops perseverance! UGH, not what she needed….It’s what I need – but then I have been up and down with the Lord after receiving Him at age 9. Many many decades ago….Thank you for opening my eyes….Lord!

  • colossians316nasb

    The first time I heard this song, I thought it was an outcry directed toward our current government, but the second time, I really, really listened and it felt deeper than mere disappointment in other humans – Pink’s song is asking, begging, pleading – not just for God’s answers, but for His attention, His notice. And it does so with gut wrenching honesty, with desperate emotion, with all the feelings of betrayal, abandonment and despair of a child who has lost their way, been separated from their parent and who fears they were intentionally left behind. This is a feeling we have all experienced, believer and non-believer alike – even if we refuse to acknowledge it. I wish it got more air time. It’s so raw and honest. I’d love to hear someone be brave enough to sing this song in church……

  • Chi!

    I was really melted by this dear. We don’t want to hear all those rules no more! He loved us even with all our dirts. All he wants is to be intimate with us. To be involved in every tiny detail of our lives. To fell free to talk to him about anything; not always inside our dark room or in a religious manner, but in a loving way, the same way we feel free talking to our friends.
    I love you Anna!

  • Guestspeaker

    Be careful not only remember what Jesus said but take his words for the truth and as such do not make him into your god but respect him as the son of God, the sent one form God , who revealed the Only One true God, the God of Abraham, Who is One (and not two or three).

  • Pablo

    When I heard Pink’s song, I knew who it was directed towards and who it was about. At one time I was that person who looked for answers from God when I was in trouble only to feel silence. But instead of abandoning my faith, handed down to me from my parents, I dug deeper – having once felt God’s love as a child. I could not dismiss that as neurons making ‘happy’ connections- it felt more real than anything I have ever or since felt. What Pink leaves out in her song is how God acts in this world- through us. It is called a miracle when God acts apart from us to change the world- because he rarely does so- instead we are his hands and feet- so I say to her question, “What about us?” Here I am Lord, your servant is listening- I’ve come to do your will.

  • Michelle

    Jesus came to my husband and I one night in January. He lifted the veil from this fallen world and showed us the Truth of His Gospel and the Kingdom of God. He showed us the sins we didn’t even realize we were committing. We were in tears at the realization that we were probably going to hell. We begged Him for forgiveness and He forgave us. He planted His seed in our hearts and we have been trying to follow His Word everyday, hour, and second since then. We couldn’t see Him or hear His Voice, but we knew the Truth of it all at that point – Him. He is the Truth, the Way and the Life. He is our Creator. He made the universe and all that is in it. He created Adam and Eve to be His family, the ones He could love as children. If you understand that God sent His Son to be born into this world so that He could show us how to get back to Him, our Creator. He was the ultimate Sacrafice from God to save His children in this world. All He asks is that we believe in His birth, death, and resurection; for us to realize that there is no way in this world without Him. He is waiting for us to realize His Truth in this fallen world and come back to a relationship of pure Love that He wants to have with us; real love that we cannot yet comprehend. The world does everything to hide God’s Truth from us, but we are His creation, so at some point in each person’s life they will be face to face with Him. When that day comes, even if it’s the last second of that life, he or she will really know how much we are each loved and how He patiently waits for every person to choose a life full of love or death.

    Since we were “born-again” we can see His Kingdom all around us. We are souls, spiritual beings covered with whatever costume He saw fit to give us when we were conceived; think of that costume as the trials and tribulations here on earth and it is our job to find Him. Then He can begin to change our hearts and teach us how to represent Him and our future Kingdom. Through reading His Word, praying, and learning how to hear His voice and see His signs all around us, what I’ve learned so far is God never gives up on His children because He loves us more than we love our own children. He will reach into the depths of hell to rescue one of His lost sheep.

    This comment is already turning into a book, but I could go on and on, probably even write enough to call it a book, but that’s it for now! Thanks for reading my comment and God bless!

  • Alecia Kraus

    This song struck me to my core the moment I heard it. Thank you for putting into words what I felt.

  • Kimberly Beasley

    This is so POWERFUL!!! Why? Because we ALL have cried out in anger, disappointment, and pain–we have each been angry with God at one time or another in our lifetime. What I’ve learned is this: God loves me. He loves me unconditionally. His plan for me is good, NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. So, I trust God. I believe His promises. I know he’s got this!! We talk, ya know?!? He wants a RELATIONSHIP with us, and we can trust Him and His love enough to be who we are in whatever moment we’re in. That’s when he takes it from us, crushes it and helps us move on.

  • Tumehe

    This was beautiful I just went to pinks concert in Auckland new Zealand. And I can relate the exact same waay as you have glad to find a sis who gets it too xx kia ora mai

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