One of my favorite things to do is to play a game I invented called, “Radio Roulette.” Really it is just hitting the shuffle button on the iTunes app downloaded on my phone, but giving it a fun name makes it more special. This game is special to me because I play it when I’m having a hard time emotionally. There is excitement that brings me out of my emotional funk anticipating what songs will play. Every. Single. Time. I play this game two things happen. The first thing that happens is songs that I haven’t heard in ages pop up and I’m pleasantly surprised to hear them. The second is the songs are what I needed to hear in that moment. They hit me right where I’m at.
I’m convinced God speaks to me through music.
So there I was driving down the 54 yesterday all in my feelings of hurt, disappointment, and irritation and Radio Roulette nails it. I could not have picked a better playlist if I had tried.
The first song to come on was “Love Goes On” by Kelly Clarkson and Aloe Blacc from “The Shack” soundtrack. The synopsis of the song is that while you bring your past along with you, love is also brought along and love is what heals the brokenness that lingers in the past baggage. Nailed it. Love goes on. I wasn’t feeling particularly loving in that moment. I desperately wanted to hold on to the past hurt, anger, and perceived misunderstandings because I was right. Because I was owed. Because I could.
And then, the next song comes on. Talk about coincidence? I think not. The song was “Wanna Be Happy?” by Kirk Franklin. It’s a gospel song overlaid with a few choice sermon clips. And man did it have my number. I’m still a little mad about it.
The lyrics start out with a defining statement and follow-on question:
The truth can hurt you
Or the truth can change you
What would truth do to you?
For the love. Why does Kirk Franklin have to make such a bold statement and ask such a hard question? But it didn’t stop there. Franklin keeps swinging knocking at the core of the issue: Me.
He throws out such bold lines as:
I just wanna be happy
But if I keep on doing the things
That keep on bringing me pain
There’s no one else I can blame
Wasted time but now I can see
The biggest enemy it was me
So I’m not happy
And the most crucifying:
It’s so easy to complain
Addicted to the pain
You give you heart, they push it away
It’s like Kirk Franklin was in my brain.
I’ve often heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. And here’s Franklin challenging my insanity, over and over and over again with every verse and every round of chorus. All I could do was cry and drive. I realized about midway through the song that I was guilty of all the things that were being sung: I keep on doing things that know bring me pain. My biggest enemy is me. And man do I complain because pain often seems so much easier to face than joy.
The chorus drives home the message that you can do all the crying and shouting you want at God or whomever, but until you’re ready to both look in the mirror and ask God for help, those tactics of dealing with life are pretty futile.
Well, damn. Thank you Kirk Franklin for ruining a perfectly good pity party drive home.
I listened to that song at least 2 more times, allowing the words and the message sink in, before the next random selection from Radio Roulette came through the speakers.
I can’t make this up. The opening bells of Michael Jackson’s “Man in Mirror” come pinging through the car. I mean. Seriously. Message received.
Me. I’m it. I am the only person who is in charge of my happiness, my ability to love and be loved. Me, the woman in the mirror.
This message is both incredibly freeing and incredibly terrifying to me. And it’s left me with a lot to look at in myself on the way I do things, on the way I behave in relationships with others, and on the way I think I have to do it solo.
I don’t have to do it alone. Kirk Franklin reminded me of that too:
If you’re tired of being the same
If you’re tired of things not changing
It’s time for you to get out the way
Don’t get stuck in how you feel
Say Jesus take the wheel
He knows the road that you need to take
(But it only works if)
If you wanna be happy
(Look at yourself and say)
Don’t you wanna be happy
I just wanna be happy
I just wanna be happy. How am I going to let that play out in my life? Today, I listened to “Wanna Be Happy?” at least 73374628364 more times and each time I sang the lyrics I smiled a little broader. I am writing that question on my kitchen blackboard as a reminder to myself that the choice is all mine all the time.
I do wanna be happy and I am grateful for the “coincidental” reminder yesterday. Radio Roulette for the win again.