In a previous post I wrote about how in the process of deconstructing my religion I’ve had to analyze some of my former favorite Christian music. I focused last time on Sara Groves, which I will do again in this post. Her song “The Word” is problematic. The song I will discuss today, “Less Like Scars” is less problematic, though it could be for some depending on your interpretation.
I occasionally listen to “Less Like Scars” when I’m feeling down because it’s brought me through some hard times and when I listen to it, even today, I feel hope.
Take a listen if you have the time and are able. If not, no matter, because I will write the lyrics further below for analysis:
The theme of the song is that God* uses all the bad things in our lives to build our character. Of course, this is no longer relatable to me for the following reasons:
- I do not believe there is a god watching over me.
- I do not believe that bad things happen for a reason.
- I do not believe that I need bad things to happen to me to build character.
In fact, the word “character” even feels like sand poured into a wound, at least in the way it is used in Christianity. That one can become more morally excellent by surrendering oneself to God’s will. However, the good thing about music is that it is an art form and and up to our own interpretation.
For me building “character” means that I follow the definition of “attributes or what makes up an individual.” That is, my suffering shapes me. Though, it’s more accurate to say I take the reigns in allowing how it shapes me.
Let’s go over the lyrics:
It’s been a hard year
But I’m climbing out of the rubble
These lessons are hard
Healing changes are subtle
But every day it’s
Less like tearing, more like building
Less like captive, more like willing
Less like breakdown, more like surrender
Less like haunting, more like remember
I can certainly relate to this. As I look back on 2019 and on many previous years I realize they’ve been kind of shitty. Surrendering here to me means my growth into radically accepting my reality (an ACT therapy goal). The “lessons” for the year have been the consequences of not radically accepting reality quicker, mostly that it has made me despondent.
Less like a prison, more like my room
It’s less like a casket, more like a womb
Less like dying, more like transcending
Less like fear, less like an ending
I am often trapped in my own mind and it is this turning of the mind towards growth, beauty, gratitude and hope that helps me to continue to go on.
And I feel you here
And you’re picking up the pieces
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars and more like character
I no longer believe in God so how could my brain possibly interpret this verse? I still enjoy it because it is me that is “here.” “God” was never real in an objective sense, but God was real in my brain. That is, my brain (me) is the one who picks up the pieces. Sure, it sounds narcissistic to praise yourself for your redemptive powers in your own healing, but this is a narcissism that I think is more healthy than being helpless to an outside supernatural force.
Just a little while ago
I couldn’t feel the power or the hope
I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t feel a thing
Just a little while back
I was desperate, broken, laid out, hoping
You would come
And I need you
And I want you here
And I feel you
And I know you’re here
This God I sang to never showed up, but I did. And to quote another Sara Groves song: “I just showed up to my life and I’m standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright.”
I use the capitalized “God” because I am referring to the Christian god specifically. It’s easier to designate it this way. I no longer believe in any gods.