As a spindly, needy little girl, I longed for love. Ached for it, really. It took fifteen years until I understood the love I needed was Jesus, all Jesus. But as I trace my way to Him, I see some compelling, surprising patterns in my music choices.
While my world collapsed around me (I share my whole story in my memoir Thin Places), I sang. Olivia Newton John’s songs captured my heart as I gave my young voice to them. But the songs that stand out to me in retrospect seemed to be part of God’s plan to woo me.
Love is the Answer by England Dan and John Ford Coley
The second verse and subsequent chorus both haunted me, yet gave me hope: Who knows why someday we all must die. We’re all homeless boys and girls and we are never heard. It’s such a lonely, lonely, lonely world. People turn their heads and walk on by. Tell me is it worth just another try. Chorus: Light of the world, shine on me. Love is the answer. Shine on us all. Set us free. Love is the answer.
Popular in 1979, I was 12 years old, two years after the tragic death of my father. His death stunned me. Wrecked me. Reminded me I would die too. I feared hell. I feared death. I feared everything. As an only child, I embodied loneliness. Yet here were the words that kept circling through me: the answer was Love.
Do Right by Paul Davis
Verse one says: I know that He gave His life for me, so I want to do right, want to do right all of my life.
The year? 1980. I’d be 13 that year. I’d contemplate suicide far too many times. My home, consisting of my mother, me, and my stepfather, was crumbling and would soon die to divorce. My step dad would be gone, and I’d suffer another loss of a father. Yet this song reminded me that someone out there loved me enough to die for me. I hadn’t yet connected the dots, but the hunger inside me to know love like this nearly exploded me.
Real Love by the Doobie Brothers
The chorus sums up my life: When you say comfort me to anyone who approaches, chalkin’ up the hurt. We live and learn. Well we’ve both lived long enough to know that we’d trade it all right now for just one minute of real love.
This song released the same year, my suicide year. I was the girl who ran to anyone, seeking comfort. I’d had two boyfriends by then, hoping to be filled. But once each kissed me, and I recoiled, I broke up in fear. I knew enough from the past that boys who kissed were not to be trusted. So I really had nowhere to turn. I couldn’t run after my parents–my mom was busy with a career and my stepfather would be leaving. My father was gone. I didn’t have many friends, though I was desperate for them.
I became a sponge, dried and curled by the sun, bereft of water, seeking the water of love, but seldom receiving it. But when I heard, then sang this song to the car radio, I learned hope. Hope that someday I’d find real love.
I found it three years later. Found Jesus the One who dared to die for spindly me. Found the Father who would never leave me or die. Found the Holy Spirit who would be my constant companion.
I wept my prayer to a star-pocked sky under the protective branches of a large tree. “God, if You are there, and I know You are, take me. All of me. I’m Yours. Really.” And then I let the weight of all that grief fall away–of fifteen years of longing for love songs to be true.
I found a lifetime of real love. I met the Light of the world. I truly knew that He gave his life for me.
The clues of wooing were there all the time, strung together by notes and voices, sung by men who didn’t know they were part of God’s love song to me.
By Mary DeMuth at MaryDeMuth.com.