They’re both honest.
And they both have the gift of singing to our hearts.
Every September, I think back to Fall 2009, I was falling in love with Jesus for the first time. The Gospel, the good news, the church, the fellowship of believers, music from the Music-maker, the Word, the colors, fresh coffee, those perfect hoodie-weather mornings, all of it.
I was also listening to this album. A Lot.
For some reason it spoke to me. Commuting back and forth to school from one city to another. God is so awesome and creative, He can use anything He wants in order to minister to whomever He wants, whenever He wants, in whatever way He wants.
Who’s Pete Wentz? He plays bass for Fall Out Boy, a popular American rock band from Illinois.
And the “Psalmist” …well there are several, but many of the psalms were written by a king named David, a popular musician from Israel.
Fun fact: Gal Gadot (aka Wonder Woman) is also from Israel.
So, what do Pete Wentz and the Psalms have in common during seasons of depression?
I found three characteristics:
1) Pete doesn’t sugar coat it.
Pete doesn’t dress up the discussion about his depression and suicide attempt. He opens up about it candidly in this interview. The psalmists are pretty open about it too.
I hear one of the psalm writers saying to Pete, “Bro, I hear you. I can’t imagine exactly what it’s like for you, but I hear you and I can kinda relate… wanna start a praise band together….? Let’s jam sometime, I’ve been working on these lyrics….”
“For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,” -Psalm 88:3-5
“My tears have been my food
day and night,” -Psalm 42:3a
Can you think of places in your life where sugar coating things is getting in the way of your true connection with other people? With God? With your own healing?
This is something I’ve been struggling with for years. There’s a part of my self I keep hidden. I’m not entirely sure why, but a large part of it has to do with fear. I’m terrified that people won’t like me. Or that they’d think things about me I don’t want them to think. Or that somehow if I just talk about positive things, or avoid tough things, it’ll make the whole conversation and relationship easier, perhaps even make me seem more “approachable.” I guess what I’m learning is I couldn’t be further from the truth.
If your soul is full of troubles today, be honest about it.
By doing so, you’d be part of the liberation instead of the prison.
2) Pete and the Psalms take action.
There’s a story arc. Movement. The plot goes forward. There’s a beginning, middle, and end. Darkness to light. Tears to joy. Mourning to celebration. “From the cross to an empty tomb.” Psalms like these were soul food for me. I chose to turn to them.
I’m completely persuaded they were meant for you, too. Locally, here-and-now, in our specific situation this present hour, and progressively, there-and-then, toward eternity and those existential questions that linger heavy when we sit during a funeral or when we anguish in response to things like global disasters, economic crises, war, etc.
I’m not sure where you’re at today, in terms of your soul, the beautiful person looking at this set of words right now. If you’re struggling in any way, taking action toward the Psalms and the Person to which they point will help keep you alive. That’s a promise. It’s happening to me as we speak. Literally. And spiritually.
Additionally, the Psalms are nourishment for our soul. Like, they nourish our soul. In other words, we each have a soul, and it needs nourishment, and the Psalms provide that by mapping their honest narrative of transformation onto ours. We just open up and receive. They were never meant to take from us. Only give to us and fill us with something immeasurable that nothing else in the world can deliver.
SIDE NOTE: I do realize it’s kinda tough to pinpoint how this all works. But let me illustrate:
I saw a kid playing with this toy recently. I said, “wow that’s cool, you like the Ironman movies huh?” He’s like, “Umm… no.” Comics? “Nope.”
He’s got this thing in his hands, but he’s never seen the real thing. I had to show him at least a clip from Avengers to show him what he’s got in his hands. He now sees this “toy” for what it really is.
Some of us are like that with our bibles. It’s here. In my hands. I’m reading it. But I’m not really sure if I’ve ever truly encountered its content, its real Person.
If you’ve never had that feeling of nourishment, go pursue it. Ask God for it right now before you read the final point. Pray. With your lips and your mouth and your mind and your heart and your soul, ask God to give you the real thing. Not a blog about about it. Or a book or article. Or a movie. But, the real thing. Him. His actual presence. And expect it. Be on the active lookout for it for the rest of this season. Not to test God, but to trust God. As an act of trust, of faith. I’ve prayed that verse from Mark 9 a thousand times, “I believe, help my unbelief!”
3) Pete and the Psalms leverage the installation of hope.
I deeply admire how Pete talks about turning to a trusted friend and eventually a therapist who took the time to connect. He found a sense of hope. A similar blood flows through the veins of Scripture.
Mary Pipher suggests, “If your message to the reader is that life is sh*t, spare the reader.”
The words of a local pastor also echo in my mind, “There’s a condition and a promise!”
I think the psalmists knew all these things.
Pete Wentz’s transaction with another trusted person points to this deeper transaction that takes place as the psalmist turns to his compassionate God with utter honesty and desperation, and rests on a promise of hope.
If today you feel as if you’re “eating tears” like I was, or feeling close to the grave, I invite you to reach out to me through this thread or email provided below, but you gotta read the rest of these lyrics from Psalm 42.
“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, (YES!!!!)
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.”
“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”
There’s suffering. And then there’s salvation. There’s troubles. Then there’s turning from troubles to hope in God. I’m convinced those verses are so powerful and true that even just exposing your eyes and heart to them could change your life forever because they’re the very presence and living, breathing, speaking words of God Himself. That real thing.
What do Pete Wentz and the Psalms have in common during seasons of depression?
- Pete and the psalmists are honest about their troubles.
- They take action.
- They leverage the instillation of hope.
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what’s kept you from being real, or what compels you to tend to sugar coat things? What stops you from taking action? As I mentioned earlier, I’m available if you need a place to share and get started!
featured photo credit: iheart.com