More Minor Keys, Please

I’m currently taking a class in music theory. For fun. Yes, I elected to take a class on theory. I’m learning a lot of new things like C clefs and super tonics, and I’m developing a stronger musical language that will (hopefully) help me in my worship leading.

Last week we learned about minor keys, how they work, and what makes them different than a major key. Basically what you need to remember is that major keys sound happy and minor keys sound sad. At the end of the week, my professor passed out some sheet music to all of us saying “It’s time to put into practice what we’ve been learning.” We determined, by looking at the key signature, tonic, and accidentals that this song was in E minor. After going through the work of looking at the theory, we sang together:

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

Our professor said “If a song about Christ’s love, shouldn’t it be happy? Why is it written in a minor key if it has a positive message?” We sat in silence, pondering what the significance was.

The answer I came up with was that sometimes, life doesn’t feel like a major key. Life is messy, and sometimes you don’t feel major; you feel minor. But, if we believe in a truly deep, unmeasured love, then this love doesn’t change based on circumstance. This love is true when you feel major and its true when you feel minor.

Maybe the church, especially contemporary church music, needs to consider the minor keys to more accurately represent our human experience. We can’t expect to feel major all the time, but we can expect that God’s love to remain steadfast and unchanging.

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Jamie

I met him in-between Forever 21 and L.L. Bean in the Mall of America. In the middle of a 4.87 million square foot building that’s entire liturgy is designed to tell me “You’re not good enough as you are,” Jamie Tworkowski told me a different thing; I heard him say the words I’ve read oh-so many times: “This life is not about status or opinion or appearance. You don’t have to fake it. You do not have to fake it. Other people feel this way too.

I asked him to read my favorite piece of his, i hope you felt the fireworks, and he reminded me that beauty still has a place here. We are all living stories, and we have a purpose here.

I waited in line for a bit. People around me were literally shaking in excitement knowing they were going to meet someone who changed their life so much. Some of these people, I learned, wouldn’t have even been alive if it wasn’t for the hope he inspired in them. Finally it was my turn.

I walked forward with my arm extended to shake his hand. He looked at me and said “I’m sick, so I’m not sure if you want to shake my hand.” I replied “I’m sick too. In fact, if I wasn’t sick, I wouldn’t even be here right now. I work at a church, but because I wasn’t feeling well, I was able to take my Sunday to come meet you.” He smiled and shook my hand.

“So how are you?” he asked me. He knew the severity of his words; I’m sure most people reply that they’re excited to meet him, but I’ll be that he gets a few authentic answers a day too. I responded:

“I’m alright. I’ve had an incredibly emotional week, and sometimes, I feel too much. But that doesn’t really matter right now. I just wanted to say ‘thank you.’ Thank you for using your words to change the world. Your words saved one of my friends’ lives; if you didn’t give her hope, she might not be here today. You’ve changed her life, you’ve changed my life, and you’re changing so many. Thank you so much, Jamie. Thank you.”

He took a slight step back, cleared his throat, and said quietly, “Wow. That was an excellent speech.” I smiled a bit and said “I just felt like it was something I needed to say and something you needed to hear.”

He wrote three things in the front cover of my book: my name, his name, and the word “Hope.” I think there’s a reason that Paul said at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 “These three remain: faith, hope, and love.” Hope is one of the most powerful things that I know. Jamie has given me, along with so many others, the hope that each one of our stories matters, life is not meaningless, and beautiful things happen every day.

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Flower Among Thorns

I pass this bush every day on my way to class. There’s one, lonely pink flower left on it. I’m sure at one point there were several flowers on it, but for now all that remains is the solitary pink flower.

I’m sure this flower, if it had the ability to do so, questions it’s purpose. “What am I doing here? Why am I so alone? Does anyone even notice me? Would the world look any different if I didn’t exist?” It looks around and can only see thorns; little does it know that it is, in fact, a rose.

You, my friend, are a flower among the thorns. No matter how alone you feel, no matter how worthless you feel, and no matter how many thorns surround you day-in and day-out, know that your story matters. Let me say it again: your story matters. Friend, “you are here for more than grades, more than a job, more than a promotion, more than keeping up, more than getting by. You don’t have to fake it. You do not have to fake it. Other people feel this way too.

You woke up this morning for a purpose, and I truly believe that. The fact that you are alive, there is breath in your lungs, and you have a pulse, is not an accident. There is hope; I promise you that the pain will end. How do I know? Because Jesus the Anointed One promised me, and He promised you, that.

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21: 3-4 ESV)

I long in expectation and anticipation waiting for the days when there is no pain, or crying, or mourning, because, dear friend, sometimes all I can see are thorns too.

It’s a whole lot easier to see beauty when you’re outside of the situation. So let’s promise each other something: I promise to proclaim beauty to this world. I promise that when I see these flowers in my life, I will stop, acknowledge them, and let them know that they give me hope. It is my prayer, that if we all take time to acknowledge the beautiful things, people, stories, and flowers, we encounter everyday, the world will stop seeming so dark and lonely.

Today is National Suicide Prevention Day. Never forget that you are loved, you are valued, you a treasured, and your story is oh-so-important.

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For more information on how to receive help and hope in struggles with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide, visit twloha.com