Along with the incidental noises of the everyday, music is the soundtrack to life. It can help us make sense of our journey and frame the chapters of our story. It possesses a special power to bring back times, places, people and emotions, rivaled only maybe by the power of smell.
Music can enhance or change our emotions. Curated collections of music (mixes) can be a deeper diary than the one on your desk. Music can be a friend, a solace, a comfort, a challenge and everything in between.
Every year I try to make a collection of some of the songs that have meant the most to me during that year. I keep a playlist on my computer to which I add songs as they strike me throughout the year, then I edit them to a playlist that will fit on a blank CD at year’s-end.
This year, as I sat down to listen to the songs what I had set aside, I was struck by the narrative that presented itself.
This year has been challenging in a lot of ways. I resigned from ministry in January after serving as a pastor for ten years. I found myself unemployed half-way through the year after I came to the (financially) painful realization that I am not a salesman and that I don’t necessarily think ministry is best pursued through quotas. I have applied to over 105 jobs and I am still unemployed. I had to turn down one job that, after travel, fuel, etc., my family and I literally couldn’t afford to take. We put our house up for sale and had over 70 showings. Finally, we had an offer on our house squashed by our HOA. Dang the man. So we took our house off of the market. We very seriously considered selling everything we own and cramming our family of 10 in an RV to travel the country until we realized that not only could we not afford that, but our extended family greatly disapproved. I still wish that had worked out.
I have come to terms with the idea that (aside from abortion and marriage) I am considered socially liberal by many of my Christian friends while also being confronted with the fact that I am quite theologically conservative compared to my socially liberal friends. I have wrestled with issues of vocation and identity and calling. I have had to ask whether or not I would ever again “aspire” to serve as an elder in a local church.
We have faced uncertainty and doubt. We have tiptoed through anxiety and swam in depression. And yet we have tried to hold on to hope through it all, confused as we are, confused as we might continue to be. We know that we are not alone in our travels through this world, even if we feel like we can’t go home. Wherever that is.
With all of that rattling around in my head cabinet, it’s no wonder that many of the songs I set aside this year deal with finding your way, figuring our your identity, feeling alone or trying to find “home.” Of course, not every song perfectly fits this mold, but I was amazed at the consistency with which my sub-conscience was weaving a narrative of my year through music.
Through it all, feeling lost and unsure, my faith in God has not wavered. I have questioned a lot about the church and the way we as Americans put it into practice. I have questioned what my role in that will be in the future and I have felt the sting of thinking people were my friends when I was simply their pastor. But faith has anchored my soul, providing surety in the storm.
So, without further ado, I invite you to take a carefully curated musical journey through my 2015.
Here is the tracklist:
- Pilgrim (You Can’t Go Home) by Dave Rawlings Machine
- Shake It Off by Ryan Adams
- Don’t Wanna Fight by Alabama Shakes
- C.R.E.B. by Built To Spill
- Pretty Pimpin by Kurt Vile
- Living My Life by Deerhunter
- Leave A Trace by Chvrches
- Disappear by Seryn
- Through The Seasons by Promised Land Sound
- The Life You Chose by Jason Isbell
- Traveller by Chris Stapleton
- River by Leon Bridges
- New Way of Living by David Ramirez
- Never Gonna Be Young Again by Doug Burr
- Falling From The Sky by Calexico
- Went Looking For Warren Zevon‘s Los Angeles by Lucero
- Shine A Different Way by Patty Griffin
- Always Be by Josh Garrels
- Download my 2015 year-in-review mix from Zippyshare.
- Stream my mix from Spotify right here: