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.
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.
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.