What’s the point of following God if life still sucks when I do? (Why I wrote “Boils My Blood”)
“Some days I wake up / feeling ugly, unloved / so I try to fix myself”
Those three lines were ringing true when I wrote my newest song “Boils My Blood”. They are a depiction of exactly what I felt around this time last year.
I was trying to navigate through life on my own and grappling with who I was. I was trying to figure out where I fit into the scheme of things. I was letting go of having been rejected by people and I was realizing that I was trying to control the outcome of many situations that I just couldn’t fix.
A lot was going on.
I felt used by some of my own “friends”.
I was hurt by having been abandoned by someone that I loved a lot.
I was dealing with an ailment that had me feeling uglier than ever.
And on top of all this: I felt as if nobody could understand what I was going through.
And you know what? They couldn’t. They weren’t walking in my shoes.
They could try to grasp my situation, but the reality of my life at this dark time was that nobody but me was in my shoes.
I had to walk through darkness alone (or at least it felt that way) and it really hurt.
Have you ever been here?
You know, that place in life where everything seems to not be working, life seems dark and it seems like nobody cares (because they honestly don’t know how to)?
If you have and you’re anything like me, you’ve probably felt the temptation to walk through dark times like these by yourself, living only inside your own head … which often makes things a lot worse than they should be.
While I was going through this experience, I had a trigger moment that set me off. It’s as if everything just exploded in my mind at one time.
I was on Facebook scrolling through my newsfeed (NOT A GOOD IDEA) and saw a picture that made the pain I was trying to suppress come to the forefront of my mind. Ahh.. WHY!?
I have this excellent ability of suppressing my true feelings, but this time I couldn’t control the floodgates.
In fact, as tears rolled down my face... all I could think was that if my blood could really boil in anger (which is my typical expression of pain), it would be doing so in this moment.
I was mad.
I was hurt.
I wanted more.
I wanted my life to be different at this moment.
And to be honest, I knew there was no way I could do anything about any of my circumstances… so I sat on the edge of my bed, grabbed my guitar, and thought to myself - “people need to hear about this”.
That’s when the song “Boils My Blood” was born.
I was quick in the past to try to filter and hold back songs like this as they’d flow out of me, but something this time was different.
Deep down, I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew there had to be others, like myself, out there in our world that have pain like my own.
It was time for a song. A song from a Christian that could be honest about me living a messy, far-from-perfect life…
… a song that could help me be honest about the reality of my pain… you know, my honest version of suffering in that moment.
It wouldn’t be there first song written like this, but it also wouldn’t be the thousandth.
Singing about your pain as a believer in God, let alone discussing it, is not a popular subject matter these days.
I’m not quite sure why, but I knew in that moment that it was time to be honest: following God has not been what a lot of people promised me it would be.
Many people have tried to sell God to me as some get-rich-quick or last-resort-to-healing genie in a bottle. They say things like: it will be easy… He will take away all your pain… life will get better… your finances will change… you’ll skip around daily through roses and poppies.
Well, maybe not the last one... but you know where I'm going with this.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THOSE THINGS DON’T HAPPEN?
What happens when life gets darker when it should have gotten better?
What happens when the healing seemingly gets further not closer?
What happens when the depression doesn’t go away?
What happens when your significant other leaves you and nobody seems to care?
Why must we hide the question that many of us (if not all) have asked ourselves:
What’s the point of following God?
Let's pause right here: If you’re looking for me to answer this million-dollar question… I pray I don’t disappoint you.
I don’t have a cookie-cutter answer to solve this major question of humanity.
What I do have is special though. What I do have is unique: I have me.
I have me, my experience and my story. I have my opinion of who God is and why I choose daily to follow Him.
Let me back up a little bit and give a bit of history: I wasn’t brainwashed into this thing called religion or faith. I wasn’t raised in the church. I wasn’t raised with a preconceived notion of who God is and how He’d respond to me as a person. I had no clue what faith really was growing up.
Instead of being raised in the church, I was brought up in a high-middle class home. Two parents, one brother, and loads of problems.
When I say loads... yo... I mean loads.
I’m sure there’s more… but for the sake of time.. I'll leave it there.
All I can say is that I was in a constant state of darkness and pain while growing up. No relief. None.
Don’t get me wrong, my parents loved me and for what they could be, they were great. The offered a lot of opportunities, gave me a lot of what I wanted, but I still struggled with feeling like it was enough... I still struggled with feeling loved.
I struggled so much that I would often dream about taking my life via suicide while being a teenager.
I was too afraid to, so I tried to numb the pain with other things instead: making music, consuming daydreams and a major commitment to sports.
I’d spend many hours hiding away while songwriting and singing.
I'd spend days playing basketball and running... until my body couldn’t take it anymore.
Pain Killers? No. Pain numbers.
Then, enter a friend of mine in middle school: she saw my struggle and invited me to this thing called “church”.
I’d heard a lot about it and wanted NOTHING to do with these "weird, fake people".
BUT, all my friends were going and I didn’t want to be left behind.
Decisions, right? So I went.
And, as simple and easy as it sounds: I’ve never been the same since.
There was a presence in that building that day.
Yes, I remember it vividly.
I was sitting in the 6th row when a man with an acoustic guitar approached a microphone on a small stage and started singing. It was as if a wave of peace hit me in an instant, flooded my very being and made all of my anxiety insignificant. It made all of my obsession with myself and self-loathing disappear. It washed me clean.
FOR ONCE I HAD PEACE.
I have no idea what was said that day, but I really believe that I met God that day.
I just couldn’t stay the same.
In one encounter I had felt hope… love… PEACE.
Here's where a lot of people miss it though: this encounter didn't make life easy all of a sudden. My problems didn’t evaporate in that moment… meeting God did not mean that I was teleported into a field of daisies and left with no problems.
In fact, before I actually committed to living for Him I realized (through no other source but the Book of Life) that He actually says I will have trials and suffer if I decided to follow his ways. (2 Timothy 3:12).
But, I decided I was down for the journey because I was hooked on this peace I had found.
I was desperately in love.
Most importantly, I would do anything to live in the love, joy and peace I felt that day.
I couldn’t turn back.
Fast forward to 11 years later - I’m learning first hand that pain is not exempt from the life of a follower of God. Actually, it's expected.
This earthly pain we experience: God may take it away in this lifetime... He may not.
BUT one thing that I know for sure is that while following Him, no matter how dark my life seems, there is this crazy amount of unexplainable peace, joy and love that I have.
I didn't have it before I met him... so it has to be Him. You don't just wake up feeling at ease and excited when your parents are divorcing and you're being told there's no money for you to go to college.
You just don't wake up with hope when you lose a relationship with someone you love to drugs.
God, for me, has been that friend I’ve always desired to have that can make me smile no matter how bad things are.
He’s the reason I’m able to laugh despite things being bad…
He’s the reason I never took my life…
So, when it comes to my new song “Boils My Blood”… I had to be honest. For the longest time I simply wanted to hear a song that wallows in pain, but yet acknowledges God while there… a song that doesn’t fake its way through this journey of life.
This song, for me, is an honest, artistic expression of dealing with my life’s low points.
And at the end of the day, I always think back to where I'd be if I would have never experienced God's love and peace consuming me like a flood in that small, hometown church that day.
“There is love that consumes me like a flood”
There was no better way to end my song, but with this final phrase. This is my reason: even when life "sucks" while following God... it's way better than not knowing Him and facing life, as well as its trials, alone.
Being without Him and his love, to me, is just not not worth it.
I have love... and it always consumes me.
In darkness and pain, I have joy... hope and most importantly to me: love that gives me peace.
So, no matter where you are in your life and no matter how dark it is, may you allow LOVE to consume you like a flood.
Thanks for letting me be honest today.
"Boils My Blood" is now available on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to it or buy it, you can do so by clicking here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below.
xO - Martay