Katy Perry’s new album “Witness”
Say what you will about Katy Perry, but I love her honesty. The title track for her latest album, Witness, is a soliloquy of doubt and loneliness. I won’t name names, but these dark themes fail to surface on the “positive and encouraging” genre of radio stations that are out there. And it’s why you’ll find me listening to some of the less “encouraging” musical artists on occasion.
See, great music, great lyrics puts sound and words to feelings. Sometimes, I doubt. I have fear and anxiety. I wonder if I’m alone in the world, if anybody cares. And I crave music that can put words to those parts of my soul. Words like Katy Perry’s:
If I lost it all today, would you stay?
Could my love be enough to stimulate?
If s*^t hit the fan, grenades got thrown
Would you still show, oh?
Could you go down with me to the mat?
Could we get back up and eventually laugh?
Roll eyes at highs, cheers in the lows, and stay in the flow.
There is a song in the Bible by the Sons of Korah called Psalm 88 that’s a pure cry into the darkness. It says things like:
You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
my eyes are dim with grief.
And other lines like:
From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
And if that wasn’t dim enough, the song ends with this:
You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
darkness is my closest friend.
You read this song and you keep waiting for God to show up, for the ending to turn happy, but it never does. The song ends with a God that didn’t show up. It ends in darkness and loneliness. But that’s why I love it so much.
I’m a believer. I know that in the end God is going to be there for me. I know that. But when I can’t pay my bills, a friend betrays me, or I lose a child, I don’t feel like he’s going to show up. I feel alone. I feel that “darkness is my closest friend.” And for some reason, knowing that someone, anyone, has also felt this despair makes it all a little less despairing. In some strange way, I find the dark and lonely songs by Katy Perry and the Sons of Korah oddly encouraging, precisely because they offer no encouragement.
Now, some of you are already crafting an angry comment about why I shouldn’t write about Katy Perry. So, I’ll just end with this: she’s looking for a connection, someone to get her through whatever she is going through, maybe you can be a witness instead. Besides, who doesn’t need a witness?
Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer, small groups coach, and author of I Am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives. and Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First.
(Photo source: pexels.com)
In the “Friends” episode, The One That Could Have Been, Fat Monica is sitting at her kitchen table with Chandler, upset that her boyfriend ran out on their date because of work. In her frustration, she blurts out, “Chandler, I’m going to die a virgin!” As if such a fate was actually worse than death.
Monica’s disappointment and embarrassment about being a 30-year-old virgin reflects how our society views those who are sexually abstinent in adulthood whether by choice or lack of opportunity.
I can’t speak for society, but I can speak for myself. I laughed at that scene, not because I thought it was funny, but because I identified with Monica. In fact, I exclaimed, “Me too!”
Now, sex in and of itself would be a horrible reason to get married. So let me be clear, that is not the only reason I would like to be married one day.
I know marriage is more than sex, and that marriage is beautiful and hard and all that. I know it doesn’t complete me. I know marriage will not make me happier. I get it.
But sometimes I fall prey to the belief that in our society, it would be easier to be married and Christian than single and Christian.
If I were a married Christian lady, nobody would think twice about me staying faithful to my husband. If I did sleep around, the world would actually look down on me.
Case in point: In that same “Friends” episode, Rachel has the opportunity to cheat on her husband with Joey Tribbiani, the Soap Opera star, but she doesn’t. She feels overwhelmed with guilt for even entertaining the idea because cheating on her husband would make her a horrible person.
However, as a single Christian lady, I still believe the only man I should sleep with is my husband. God just hasn’t revealed the identity of that lucky man yet. The world thinks I’m crazy for wanting to be faithful to a man who may very well not even exist.
I’ll be 29 this year, and I can count on one hand the amount of dates I’ve been on in my life. I’ve never been on a date with a man where I’ve enjoyed myself and wanted to continue the relationship. They’ve all been awkward, and then I had to do the whole “I don’t really like you that way. Let’s pretend like we’re going to stay friends, but I’m actually going to avoid you like the plague from here on out because I feel guilty for possibly hurting your feelings” thing.
Let me share with you a list of some situations I’d rather not go through again:
- Being told by a guy I like he’s not that interested in me
- Telling a guy I’m not that interested in him
- Kidney stones
So after one painfully awkward date, I told God I would prefer not to be asked out at all than to be asked out by a man whom I’d have to reject.
God is faithful, and I have not been asked out since August 2012.
I’m telling you this because I need you to know I’m not some super holy person who has resisted so much temptation in an effort to stay faithful to my future husband; I’ve had no opportunity to be unfaithful. (At least not physically… emotionally unfaithful? Well that’s a story for another day.)
I’m just a girl who somedays feels like the biggest loser in the world and who sometimes believes no man will ever find her beautiful or love her. A girl who struggles with loneliness and feeling unwanted.
But those are my feelings; they are not my reality.
My reality is a Father who has beautifully protected me from the pain and destruction of sexual sin thus far in my life, but whose affection is not contingent upon my perfection. I am loved.
My reality is a Savior who loved me at my worst and who continues to recklessly pursue my heart. I am wanted.
My reality is a Great Comforter who guides and guards me as I navigate the trials and joys of this world. I am never alone.
Feelings often take awhile to catch up to God’s truth. They also forget easily. I have to remind my heart daily of the truth, so my feelings can be rooted in God’s Word and not fear.
My fear of being single forever and dying a virgin finds its root in the fear of being an outsider and misunderstood and ridiculed. Ironically enough, God’s Word promises exactly those things for those who follow Jesus.
We were never meant to “fit in” in this world; we were meant to change it. And in our weakness and struggles, God shines brightest.
“…I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ might rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV
I’m not implying that the single life is all calamity and hardship. For the most part, I’ve greatly enjoyed my twenties and God has taken me on many adventures that would not have been possible if I was married. Marriage would have provided its own set of hardships.
But singleness does provide a unique opportunity to live counter culturally and
proclaim that God’s way is better–even if in my weakness, I still feel a tinge of embarrassment when asked about my abstinence.
Will living a chaste life while single change the world? Maybe not.
But living in obedience to God in every area of my life–big and small–certainly will.
I may very well die a virgin, but please, God, don’t let me die without changing the world.
This originally appeared on Sarah Stinson’s blog, with my whole heart. Republished with permission.