It’s been so long since I’ve sat down to write, to truly type out words of the heart. I’m aching for it, but pregnancy exhaustion and the depths there are to delve hold me back. Soon, I think. I hope.
There are words waiting.
When words are absent and slow, let the poets, the songwriters, the Truth proclaimers speak for us. For me, that happens in song.
I have playlists for everything—seasons, birthdays, getting dressed, parties, moods. This one I originally named Mother Artist, which makes sense to me in my life, but…they really apply to everyone.
I’m not a fan of most mainstream Christian music (including worship music), on the whole I don’t feel it gives an honest portrayal of life, especially when you consider how wide the spectrum of a life of faith is. Here you’ll find some of my favorite songs for life, for when life is a struggle, depression and sorrow loom, for love, for all those bits and pieces of life that don’t always fit into a neat category.
And, of course, I had to include some of my favorite lyrics.
You’ll find a lot of repeats from Sara Groves, Christa Wells, Andrew Peterson, and JJ Heller. These are artists I love who write and sing the struggles and joys of life, loss, apathy, depression, thanks, love, redemption, and identity in a beautifully truthful way. I’ve said it before, but Sara Groves has done more for my theology than probably any one author or theologian.
You can find the playlist on Spotify: Songs for Life.
Just click shuffle and you’ll be set.
For When the Darkness Will Not Lift & It’s Difficult to Breathe
- Maybe There’s a Loving God, Sara Groves, “Maybe this was made for me, For lying on my back in the middle of a field, Maybe that’s a selfish thought, Or maybe there’s a loving God”
- It’s Going To Be Alright, Sara Groves
- It Might Be Hope, Sara Groves
- Peace, Peace, Sara Groves, “Peace, peace, it’s hard to find, Trouble comes like a wrecking ball to your peace of mind”
- This Thing Is Not Going to Break You, Christa Wells
- Who You Are, JJ Heller, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know who You are. You have a Father’s heart and a love that’s wild and You know what it’s like to lose, yeah, you know what it’s like to lose a child”
- A Thousand Things, Christa Wells, “But in the midst of the most exquisite pain you’re drawn into a peace that you cannot explain and the praises you sing of a sovereign God reach the girl whose last hope is gone she never thought there was purpose in anything here now the seed has been planted and it’s taking root there”
(This song’s not on Spotify, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.)
- How Emptiness Sings, Christa Wells, “Sister carries her loneliness,In a hidden hollow inside her chest, And sometimes all that she wants is an end, To the long, long night, But ooh her bow is on the strings, And the tune resonates in the open space to show us how emptiness sings, Glory to God, Glory to God! In fullness of wisdom, He writes my story into his song, My life for the glory of God.” (Also, not on Spotify. But so, so good.)
- Even Though, More Than Rubies (Christa Wells/Nicole Witt), “Even though we lose it all, we’ll not be lost, Behold this love of God has ransomed us, He’s ransomed us”
- You’ll Find Your Way, Andrew Peterson, “And I know you’ll be scared when you take up that cross, And I know it’ll hurt, ’cause I know what it cost, And I love you so much and it’s so hard to watch, But you’re gonna grow up and you’re gonna get lost, Just go back, go back, Go back to the ancient paths, Lash your heart to the ancient mast, And hold on boy, whatever you do, to the hope that’s taken ahold of you” This is my prayer for my children.
- Wake Me Up, Aloe Blacc, “Feeling my way through the darkness, Guided by a beating heart, I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start”
- Just Showed Up for My Own Life, Sara Groves, “I was in love with an idea, Preoccupied with how a life should appear, Spending my time at the surface repairing the holes in the shiny veneer, There are so many ways to hide, There are so many ways not to feel, There are so many ways to deny what is real”
- Eyes on the Prize, Sara Groves
- Painting Pictures of Egypt, Sara Groves
- Redemption, JJ Heller, “Someday we will remember how to fly and we will rise like embers burning bright, everything broken will be whole again” (this is what I wear on my wrist)
- Set Free, More Than Rubies (Christa Wells/Nicole Witt)
- Keep Breathing, Ingrid Michaelson
- Run, Delta Rae
- Dog Days Are Over, Florence + The Machine
- Learning to Love Again, Mat Kearney, “‘Cause that was the real you running through the fields of gold wide open, Standing in places no picture contains,That was the real you, windows down, we could smell the mint fields crying”
- Dancing in the Minefields, Andrew Peterson, “We bear the light of the Son of Man, so there’s nothing left to fear, So I’ll walk with you through the Shadowlands until the shadows disappear”
- Home, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes
- Different Kinds of Happy, Sara Groves
- Boat Song, JJ Heller
- Wherever Is Your Heart, Brandi Carlile, “Wherever is your heart, I call home”
For When You Need Grace for Yourself
- Thy Mercy, My God, Sandra McCracken, “Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own, And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son; All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine, Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.”
- Control, JJ Heller
- The Broken Beautiful, Ellie Holcomb
- Something Beautiful, NeedtoBreathe
- Don’t You Want to Thank Someone, Andrew Peterson, “Don’t you ever wonder why, In spite of all that’s wrong here, There’s still so much that goes so right, Beauty Abounds”
- Add to the Beauty, Sara Groves, “And I want to add to the beauty, To tell a better story, Shine with the light, That’s burning up inside”
- When the Saints, Sara Groves, “And when I’m weary and overwrought, With so many battles left unfought, I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard, I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars, And when the Saints go marching in, I want to be one of them”
- Feed Your Soul, Christa Wells
- Shine Your Light On Me, Andrew Peterson
- Sparrow, Audrey Assad
For When You Need to Come Into Your Own
- I’m Gonna Fly, Amy Grant
- Shine, Christa Wells, “He shines his light through a prism, We give back what we’re given to color this world”
- Brave, Sara Bareilles
- Sooner or Later, Michael Tolcher
- Loved, JJ Heller, “Do you keep your thoughts inside your head? Will you regret the things you never said? You have a voice, You have to use it, You have a choice”
- Fool With a Fancy Guitar, Andrew Peterson
For When You Need to Raise Your Eyes to a Higher Purpose
- Kingdom Comes, Sara Groves
- Love Is Still a Worthy Cause, Sara Groves
- Planting Trees, Andrew Peterson, “So many years from now, long after we are gone, these trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn”
- You are the Sun, Sara Groves
- Visible Invisible, More Than Rubies, “The broken wait for healing, the orphans long for home, the slaves all cry for freedom, There is hope, There is hope. We are the visible invisible, We are the flesh and bone of Your redeeming love”
- We Will All Be Changed, Seryn
For When You Need to Know This is Not the End
- Be OK, Ingrid Michaelson
- Kingdom Come, JJ Heller, “Life is but a dream at best, Morning’s coming soon, Kingdom come will bring us rest, All will be made new”
- The Reckoning (How Long), Andrew Peterson, “And I know you hear the cries of every soul tonight, You see the teardrops as they roll tonight, Down the faces of saints, Who grow weary and faint in your fields […] I believe You will come
Your justice be done, but how long?”
- After the Last Tear Falls, Andrew Peterson, “We’ll see how the tears that have fallen, Were caught in the palms Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all, And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales”
For When You Need to Know You’re Loved
- You Cannot Lose My Love, Sara Groves
- Everybody, Ingrid Michaelson
- The Pretty & The Plain, JJ Heller, “I know you came for the pretty and the plain, I hear you calling out my name. I know you came for the sinner and the saint, and I will never be the same”
- Being Loved, Christa Wells, ” ‘Cause being loved is a hard thing to take, We are born unclothed, As we came, we will go, From the first we are known”
For When You Just Need to Get Up & Dance
- Shut Up & Dance, Walk the Moon
- Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey
- Hey, Soul Sister, Train
- Just the Way You Are, Bruno Mars
- Hey Mama, Mat Kearney
- She Got the Honey, Mat Kearney
My current favorite playlist is Midsummer Night, just be warned it’s full of bluegrass, folk, and indie goodness. If you’re in a season of sorrow, Songs for the Brokenhearted is a playlist I put together last summer after our third miscarriage. I wanted music that would allow me to grieve, but still point me to Jesus.