10 Year Challenge – Reflecting on Life and the Top 10 Songs that Kept me Going

10 Years Ago

Ten years ago I was a senior in high school. I created my Facebook account in 2009 from a school computer because I was the nerd that bypassed the security software (can’t take full credit, our Dual Credit adviser showed me how the first time). Each time there was new software, there was a new way around it. The biggest thing that has changed are my friends and family. People come and go. Not always for bad reasons. Sometimes, it’s just because life calls us different directions.

Physically, how hard has 10 years hit me? Take a look at the clear 17-year-old complexion…life waited until 27 to give me teenager acne. Thanks. I’ve had gray hair since about 8 years old, but now it is in excess and I can’t hide it. Oh well. That is not something I have ever really cared about. What I do care about is how I’ve changed as a person.

In 2009, most people saw a different side of me. I was beginning to learn more about myself and making choices that would affect the rest of my life. Not only did I begin college and ultimately become the first person in my family to obtain a Bachelors degree, but I made a lot of choices along the way. During the transition from high school senior to college freshman, I stopped cutting. Most people use the blanket term “self harm” because that disturbs people less, but I think that sometimes if you aren’t stirred up then you won’t make a move that needs to happen. When I entered college, I made the choice to change for the better.

Looking Back

When I was about seven years old, the episode of 7th Heaven titled “Cutters” was aired. I currently do not allow my siblings (and won’t be allowing my daughter) to watch unsupervised episodes of 7th Heaven. The reason is, the topics covered in this show, though intended to be a learning experience, can stir confusion and questions. If an adult is around to respond to those questions, or perhaps add some unsolicited support, a lot of negative effects can be avoided. For me, I was already an awkward child that struggled to make friends. Recently, I uncovered my 2nd grade report card that included handwritten notes from my teacher to my mom about my progress or lack of progress connecting to my peers. What my mom was never told is that I would get in trouble for things like rubbing my knuckles on the rug to give myself carpet burn, ripping my hair out, or peeling scabs to make myself bleed. I had already considered suicide at this young age but did not know that vocabulary word yet. Seeing this episode, as I was an avid 7th Heaven watcher, inspired just one more outlet for me even though it wasn’t until I was about 12 that any of these habits were noticed (or at least, reacted to). (Disclaimer: I in no way “blame” this episode for my choices. Especially since I was already doing it before this show aired).

Because I never received in help in the form of counseling or support in that manner, the road to quitting was solely based to things placed in my path by God. Consequently, making the decision to quit forever back when I was 17 led to a long trail of other good choices. I joined a Christian group called Sigma Phi Lambda (Sisters for the Lord) and made a conscious effort to stay on track with regular Bible study and fellowship. I fell off the track many times from trying new “self harm” outlets in everything from drinking to sex, but in the end, nothing filled that void that needed to be filled by Jesus alone.

The CHOICE to Keep Going

God gave us life. Living it is a choice. The old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” I’ve always toyed with the thought of living only until 25 and then killing myself. My only goal was to make it to college, try some new things, travel some. At the back of my mind, I always dreamed of having a family and children someday, but the reality was: my ultimate focus was death and the end of life itself. At 27, I’m living bonus days. There aren’t any goals or tasks that I could possibly accomplish that replace the fact that God created me, Jesus died for me, so simply continuing on is the least I could do because of His sacrifice.

While many events, people, and life choices have lead me to where I am today, I give the credit to God for using music to speak to me along my journey. It seems like no matter what the high or low point was, there was always a song. When you go through my list, which is in no particular order, you may notice something many of them have in common: though some of the songs were old, the music video was posted to YouTube some time around 2009. Another thing you may notice is that these songs are filled with some sort of spiritual theme. Perhaps the band is not Christian, but the topic is there. Many of the songs by bands like Creed, Lifehouse, and Switchfoot were played on mainstream radio even though they wrote intentionally Christian music. It was not until recently (last few years) that I noticed Switchfoot music appearing on Christian radio stations when they have actually always been a Christian band.

With all that said, be warned that you are about to scroll into everything from Metal to Pop with a couple taboo subjects and words.

Korn – Falling Away from Me

It wasn’t until college that I actually watched the music video for this song. It speaks to the purpose of the song. Korn has always acted as an outlet for abused children, especially after what the lead singer, Jonathan Davis, has gone through. Another person who is extremely inspirational to me is Brian “Head” Welch, the Korn bassist, who gave his life to Christ as uses his platform to reach out to others.

Audioslave – Like a Stone

There are been many deaths of celebrities that have hit pretty hard in the last few years. None real hit me as hard as Chris Cornell. Mostly known for Sound Garden, Chris Cornell committed suicide in 2017. What I have to say about most musicians that we have lost whether to suicide or drug abuse–everyone acts so surprised, but it seems like the people closest to them missed the lyrics.

Switchfoot – Dare You To Move

“I dare you to move like today never happened before.” The basis of turning to God is finding and then accepting forgiveness…then repenting and not going back! It sounds simply because it is simple, but as humans we tend to hold on. This song was very inspirational to me. I’ve often caught agnostics and atheists jamming to this song and wondering why it made them feel so moved and inspired. It’s Jesus, daring you to move.

Creed – My Sacrifice

The meaning of this song to me has changed over the years. There have been many times since trying to add more Christian music to my life and I feel my fingers sliding back that dial to my favorite rock station, only to hear this song. The lyrics speak for themselves in a powerful call out to Jesus, “I just want to say hello again.”

Lifehouse – Hanging by a Moment

If you’ve been to events like Acquire the Fire or other Christian youth events, you may have seen the skit accompanied by Lifehouse’s song “Everything”. I first saw that performance in 2008 at the Texas FFA Convention. The reason I chose “Hanging by a Moment” to make this list over “Everything” is because it wasn’t until a few years later that I listened to this song again and really heard the lyrics, realizing then what the song was clearly about. It’s stuck with me ever since.

Slipknot – Snuff

If you’re going to get weird-ed out or offended easily, don’t watch the video (this is one of their mild ones, hah). So much of this song is not just how the video portrays going mad after a break-up, but the choice to hold on to the past, refusing to let go and move on. This is what holds so many people back. For me, and this is scientifically proven by the way, listening to songs that match the mood I am feel is actually helpful for making it past that emotions and healing.

Evanescence – Bring Me To Life

Before Evanescence parted ways with Ben Moody, many of their songs, though still dark and goth, intentionally had Christian and spiritual overtones. This is one of them. Amy Lee chose to stop including these themes in their music because she absolutely did not want to be accidentally called a Christian band.

Letter to God

This song was written by Linda Perry. You may know her from this band, but she has written many songs that are simply amazing and heartfelt. I am sharing both Courtney Love and Linda Perry because these two women give it a different meaning.

David Crowder*Band – How He Loves

Around my senior year of high school I went to an Acquire the Fire with my friends youth group. It was spectacular overall, but the song that reached me the most was “How He Loves” sung by Phil Joel at ATF. Unfortunately, in 2015 ATF ended their 30 tradition, read more about that here. It’s been tough for me, who prefers metal over anything, to really grasp Christian music, but I’ve always really enjoyed David Crowder Band. This song continues to find me when I need it.

Pink – Fucking Perfect

I remember a day when I was in college when I was feeling particularly down. While mid-thought, wondering if I should even keep going or give up, I heard the chime of my phone. Just then, my aunt had sent me a text with a link to this song and a short note, “I want you to hear this. You are fucking perfect. I love you babe.”

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