Dear Me... | A Journey of Spiritual Transformation through Music and Reflection
I drove hours to see her.
She didn’t perform traditional concerts like the other contemporary Christian rock stars did, preferring the small, intimate venues where she could control the atmosphere.
And what an atmosphere she created. There was no pre-concert warm up band. There were no flashing lights or elaborate stage set up.
It was her and her piano.
The only indication that the concert was beginning was the slightest dimming of the lights. A few seconds later, Nichole Nordeman quietly walked on stage, sat down at her piano and began to play.
She captivated the audience, moving many of us to tears as she shared the inspiration behind some of her most well-known songs.
“Every Season,” a song she wrote for the funeral of her best friend’s husband. The lyrics taking on a new meaning for me each time I hear them now.
“What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season's change
And so, it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring”
Toward the end of the concert, she invited us to stand, bow our head and sing with her while she softly played her piano. And then, as quietly as she had entered, she stopped playing during the final chorus of the song, knowing that we would continue to sing to finish…
and when we raised our heads, she was gone.
The concert was over.
A perfect ending to an evening with Nichole, who chose to invite the Holy to take mainstage.
I had always been drawn to her music. There is a mystical hint to her lyrics that allow you to pause with the words and find their relevance to your life.
“I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?”
“Did I” becomes a question for the now “Am I?”
Am I choosing to love?
Perhaps I was also drawn to her music because it was never played in church. Unlike Hillsong, Newsboys and Third Day, whose songs were mainstays in the evangelical Christian churches who saw the marketing appeal to carry the rock star theme into worship, transforming the pulpit into a stage and the sanctuary into a venue suitable for a rock concert.
The pastor in his jeans was intended to portray that modernity equaled progressivity—none of which is true.
There was something unique about Nichole. I lost track of her during my deconstructing days. I needed to break up with all things contemporary Christian music to ensure I wasn’t emotionally and spiritually influenced by it during my healing journey.
But then I found her on Twitter, only to discover that she too was going through a break-up of her own. Her own deconstruction from the dark side of evangelical Christianity.
All of a sudden, her music became even more meaningful to me. Maybe I had sensed that in her words long ago. Maybe she too was feeling the pangs to separate herself from the toxicity she was witnessing in a belief system that had its foot on the neck of the historically oppressed. Maybe her absence from the music industry now is part of her healing journey?
Some of those ponderings I’ll never be able to answer, but one thing became very clear to me. Deconstructing is not about releasing the beliefs that hold your spirituality—it’s about rejecting the beliefs that harm another’s humanity.
Nichole has held onto the tenets of her Christian faith that no longer resonate with my faith—and that’s okay. I still see in her story aspects of my own journey.
And her story?
She tells in, what else, her song.
And her song?
I can’t listen to it very often. I have to be in the right space—a space of quiet and contemplative and spiritual presence. Much like the space she created in her concerts.
One of my mentors encourages me to sit with my younger self in times when I’m feeling threatened or sad. And times when I feel like giving up to sit my older/future self, imagining her accomplishing the things I’m called to do.
It’s a powerful spiritual practice, and this song is reflective of this kind of deep spiritual work.
To be able to visit our former self, the one who thought she had all the answers.
The one who saw nothing wrong with loving Jesus by gatekeeping His story.
The one who equated loving others with judging them.
The one who was afraid to use her voice against the injustices she witnessed in and outside of church for fear of her own rejection and isolation from the only spiritual community she had ever known.
The one who one day had the courage to stand up and say “no more.”
The one who walked out of those church doors to never return.
This is a letter to the girl I used to be
There are some things that you should know”
I don’t know if I’ll ever meet Nichole Nordeman in person, but in the words of the song, she has offered a healing balm to those of us who couldn’t find the words to express what our former self needs to hear.
She did her best at that time.
Until that wasn’t just not good enough.
It wasn’t right.
And it wasn’t Holy.
I lack her eloquent prose, but here’s what I’ll add to what she wrote:
I’m glad we made it out.
I’m glad you trusted me to get us here.
We still have work to do.
But thank God we aren’t where we once were.
Continue to trust me.
I love you.
You can find “Dear Me” at Nichole’s website here