I was driving home from work Sunday morning, completely exhausted from a very active and emotionally draining shift. Usually when I’m on my way home from work, if I have the radio on it usually serves as white noise as I try to process my thoughts so that I can sleep decently when I get home. I have a 12 hour window of time to myself from the time I leave work on Sunday mornings to when I have to be back for my next shift.
A song came on the radio that I immediately recognized. The song was My Soul Is Anchored in the Lord sung by Douglas Miller. This song was notoriously known in my household when I was growing up, making the list of a few Gospel songs that my Mom would listen to over and over in one sitting. These were those songs that my Mom would cling to, and Brandon and I would just sit and listen thoroughly annoyed and not really understanding why we had to listen to these songs over and over.
The song came on and since I hadn’t heard it in awhile, I actually was happy to hear it. I begun using my voice to imitate the beginning instrumentation and as Douglas Miller’s velvety tenor began singing the first verse, I started singing along. At first, it was reminiscent of any other sing-along I have by myself – loud and very dramatic. The thought even occurred to record myself singing along and post it on social media, a favorite pastime of many of my generation. But somewhere in the midst of these thoughts and lightheartedly singing this song, something in the lyrics connected to my heart in a way that hadn’t happened before.
The last time I stepped foot inside of a church was January 4 of this year. This is due largely to the fact that I work on Sundays. Being detached from a church community has been weird for me; the only time I’ve spent this much time away from church was when I was doing my study abroad in France. The funny thing is that with both of these experiences, there has been an element that has allowed me to more intimately know God in certain ways. In France, God used that time to just affirm to me my worth and how much He loves me. This time, God has been challenging me to step out into the deep with Him, to not be afraid to ask those tough questions, to trust Him with my fears and my doubts, and to know that beyond it all He will still be standing.
For the past two and a half years, I’ve been in a process of unknowing in order to know. I’ve never asked so many questions in my life and I’ve never been so unsure about things that seemed so certain when I was growing up. It’s been a process of making the faith of my parents my own, a process which has challenged me to be real about the things that I struggle with about God, faith, church, destiny, sovereignty, grace, mercy, and even evil. I have regularly asked why certain things happen while other things don’t and have had to give myself the room to acknowledge how it all makes me feel. I have hesitated to discuss with many, afraid that people will misunderstand my heart or will think that I am “leaving God”. I’ve cried, I’ve felt guilty, I’ve felt separated, I’ve felt stupid for not being sure. Almost everything I thought I knew about this God that I’ve been exposed to all my life has been put to the test.
But this morning when I heard the song proclaiming that my soul has been anchored in the Lord, I teared up. There was something so reassuring about hearing it and the more I sang its words, the more peace I felt. I didn’t just need to hear the words, I needed to say the words. There was something within that needed that reassurance that in the midst of all the rockiness of my spiritual life at the present, I am anchored. Tears dropped and I thought about the moments where I saw my Mom listen to this song, eyes closed and singing it from her soul. I could finally understand – for myself.
I’m still here. He’s still here with me. That reassurance does not stop the storm and currents; it issues peace through the storm and currents.
I went from the security of crawling around on all fours in the muck and mire of my inherited beliefs to the vulnerability of standing, my head and heart exposed, in the truth of my own spiritual experience. I evolved, not into a better creature than those around me but into a better, more adapted me – a me who wasn’t afraid of her own ideas and doubts and intuitions, a me whose faith could survive change. – Rachel Held Evans, Faith Unraveled, p. 23