Dear Taylor Swift.
They call it a game face.
It’s the face we choose to make when we get to an autograph line. Little girls are lined up with posters and guitars with our names on them, anxious to tell us about their upcoming talent show. We’re walking with our security and our team hurting and broken about the pain inside but the second we turn that corner, we have to put our lives on hold for the sake of the lives in the crowd. We’re not being fake… not lying about what’s going on… merely doing what we have to do to be who we’re called to be.
Like you, I “came out of nowhere” (in the music industry) as many blogs and reviewers have said. Though I’ve been singing my whole life and playing (semi… haha) payed gigs since high school, I didn’t get a record deal until I was around 18. I was signed to (a label I love called) Gotee Records under TobyMac and my first single was nominated for a Grammy and Billboard award. At Christian Music’s biggest award show, The Dove Awards, I took home the award for New Artist of the Year and was nominated for a few others. I don’t tell you this to pop my collar but incase you don’t know who I am, I figured that information may provide context 🙂
I am now 23 and during my journey as an artist I’ve played morning shows, sold out arenas, churches… alongside some of my favorite artists and having the chance to headline as well. Random fact – Banjo Ben who toured with you? I met him at your show with Rascal Flatts over 5 years ago and he played on my new record. Thanks for the indirect intro;)
Also during my journey, my mom got sick.
I want to clarify first of all that my mom’s condition is not fatal and does not face a large amount of similarities to cancer. I never want to come across as comparing my struggles to anyone else’s nor imply that I understand something that I do not.
Even so, my mom got sick. And still is.
My CD release was the day of her surgery that we waited for months to schedule. I’ve had nights on stage while she was at the ER and we didn’t have answers. Sweet friends and fans have asked, “how’s your mom?” when I truly don’t know how to respond. It’s not been an easy road.
She has a rare, incurable nerve condition that has affected her life in more ways than I can imagine. She is blessed to still work as mine and my sister’s managers and serve in ministry alongside my father but faces many physical challenges.
I have spent many nights crying, screaming, praying and begging God to “fix it”… Many of these nights are spent at home but many of them on tour. In a bunk on a tour bus. In the bathroom of a shared dressing room. At front of house when everyone thinks I’m merely checking for a good mix. Minutes before, after and sometimes during a game face… I’m fighting the battles of a pain too great to comprehend.
Taylor, I’ve not yet met you.
I’ve seen you live in concert once but we don’t run in the same circles or have many mutual friends… “22” was my ringer for all of last year (obviously…) but I honestly don’t know your birthday or have your poster on my wall. (I do have Reba’s up though… classy lady, yeah?) Occasionally I’ve used your songs, and other love songs, in my live shows (cause you’re a great writer…) as a metaphor of God’s love being great!, God being the first to say, “you belong with me,” and have said that too many sad love songs can cause a girl like me to mad at her guy – even though I’m single, ha;) But even though we have many differences and haven’t crossed paths I felt compelled to write this to you.
Even if you never see it! It may hit the heart of a girl facing 6th grade whose heart is heavy because her home is broken. It may reach the email inbox of the college student tempted to drop out because he feels like everything he’s fighting – he’s fighting alone. A wife may stumble across this post minutes before she goes to another church service pretending like everything is okay.
I dunno who’s gonna read this.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve debated writing this!**
But I can tell you this.
To anyone feeling hurt or frustrated or confused or upset or alone or “simply” annoyed by the struggles we face in this life – you’re not alone.
We all have to put on a game face and it’s not close to fair but know that you’re never alone. Someone out there has a game face as strong as yours and when we can open up and be real with each other… when we can love on each other and welcome each other into our lives… when we can hold each other when we’re crying, those game faces will start to fade and our realness will start to change each other’s lives.
Taylor, I’ve heard people say that I’m like “Christian Music’s Taylor Swift.” Despite the fact that we (obviously) look alike… 😉 I think it’s because we write about the reality that is our lives. The heartbreaks, the love stories, the friend stuff, the life stuff… the real stuff.
When we are real and honest and open, that’s when lives are changed and though your heart may be heavy Taylor, by a simple Tumblr post today, you continued to reach the hearts of many.
Because I’m a Christian and am in the public eye, people typically ask me, “What’s your favorite bible verse?” I love in Psalms where it says, “Weeping may endure for a nigh but joy comes in the morning” so that’s usually what I say. However, I found my favorite verse when I was 11 years old.
It was months after being diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. I heard Matthew 27:45 as it talks about when Jesus is hanging on the cross. As Christians we believe that Jesus was dying for our sins as a sacrifice that God (His Father) made so that we could live in Heaven when we die. We also believe that Jesus is perfect and without flaw. As He is on the cross, however, He experiences a moment of question as He asks His Father, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” #probablyaskingcauseacrucifixionisstraightupbrutal
That is my favorite verse.
Not because it’s somewhat haunting or even close to depressing but because it’s real. The Man who I believe to be the King of the World felt broken… in His heart and His body and called out to God, asking why He forsake Him.
In that moment He became relatable to the 6th grade girl… the close-to-giving-up college student, the overwhelmed wife and the 20-something year old pop singer who just wants to go home with her mom and make everything okay. He. felt. forsaken.
The only thing that has carried me through the last 12 years (my Tourette diagnosis, that journey and now my mom’s health) has been my Faith (and the community my family has found in the midst of our fight). I am carried by the understanding that I am not only loved by a King who died for me and rose for me but – who understands me.
There is nothing greater in this life than to be loved… and understood.
Taylor, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry there is no cure for cancer.
I’m sorry there is no cure for pudendal neuralgia.
I’m sorry life isn’t perfect.
I’m sorry we sometimes have to act like it is perfect.
I’m sorry that sometimes as public figures when we stop acting like life is perfect it makes it worse.
I’m sorry that life is hard.
I’m sorry if this “letter” is making it worse.
All I know… is that in some tiny way I felt obligated to at least say some tiny something to you.
My family and I are praying for you and while we believe it’s quite likely you have an incredible support system, we want to extend our hearts and family to yours at any time.
**Fourteen times over five minutes.
PS – I know as a Christian talking about pain and healing can often be controversial. This post is not intended to encourage any debates on theology or doctrine. If you would like to read any more about my condition, my mom’s or our family’s thoughts on healing and how our Faith works with that, you can visit the links below. Thanks!