Have you listened to any of the songs by Laura Story? I have listened to her songs and often wondered what she had been through that could bring her to a place of such vulnerability and openness in her apparent pain. When I would listen to her songs such as “Blessings” and “Perfect Peace” then my heart would wonder what her story was. Amid her expressed pain and questions, she has always seemed to point us back to who God is and to remind us about His love for us. She reminds us even during tears, suffering, pain, and trials that we are deeply loved by God and that He does have purposes for our lives. I wondered what her story was and was so pleased to find her book “When God doesn’t fix it” The title immediately caught my attention as some of the trauma in my life cannot be “fixed”. I cannot bring back my son or my husband. That cannot be fixed. As usual, I was beyond curious how she was handling and working through whatever things in her life could not be “fixed”. Being I have loved a variety of songs that she has written then I felt confident that she loved The Lord and was trying her best to influence others by encouraging them in their faith and in their pain.
In this book she shares about the journey that she was on with her husband Martin. She shared about how early in their marriage that he began to show physical symptoms that something was drastically wrong, and then later how he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She walks us through what they went through medically, emotionally, and spiritually as she describes his symptoms, surgeries, and times where she thought that she was going to lose him. As she was dealing with these heart wrenching trials, she asks,
“Am I going to let my circumstances determine my view of God, or am I going to let God determine how I view my circumstances?”
Wow! Talk about one of the challenges of our lives! She shares about the struggles and effects that Martin encounters from his surgeries. Martin suffers from acute memory loss and significant vision problems which affects so many aspects of their lives. In her book, Laura is open in her questions and struggles. She talks about how she did not understand why this happened and why her husband has not been completely healed. She shares about times when she would be leading worship and how she would have to change the songs that they were going to do because of how the words were not being felt deeply in her heart. She shares about her doubts of leading others in worship when she struggled so much with the events and brokenness of her own life. Later she shares of how her producers were urging her to write songs that were more personal and reflective of what she and Martin were experiencing. She spoke of her struggle of not wanting to share all the details of their brokenness. She talks about her fears of rejection within the Christian community if she were to share her doubts and questions.
As I read Laura’s story and listened to the struggles that she and Martin had experienced then her songs took on a whole new meaning. I knew that her songs had ministered to my heart and even challenged me in my own brokenness. I remember times listening to her words after my son had died and thinking, “I don’t want my son’s death to be thought of as some blessing. It is not.” Every fiber of my being rejected that thought. I just wanted my son. I knew that he was not coming back and that I would not be with him for another day on this earth. When I heard some of the words to her songs then there were times that I did not want them. My pain was fresh, and I was feeling the gravity of the death of my son and of becoming a widow. I did not want to think of my tears as a blessing. Yet I was still drawn to her songs. I could feel her brokenness and was drawn to it. As I continue to grow and learn to live with the pain then I continue to learn that I do not have to think of the tragedies of the deaths of my husband and of my only son as blessings, but I can continue to be grateful for the blessings in the midst of them. I can continue to be thankful for the blessings that my girls and I continue to receive.
Once I begin reading her story, then I was fascinated to walk along her journey with her. I was so thankful for her willingness to be open and honest in her pain and questions. I celebrated each victory and cried for her and Martin’s pain and the struggles they had to face. I watched as God so lovingly worked in her to get her to a place where she would be open about her own pain and brokenness. I rejoiced with her as she saw how that openness and vulnerability truly is used by God to help and touch so many other lives.
After the death of my husband in a work-related accident in August 2011 and the car accident that instantly killed my only 18-year-old son then I have felt compelled to be open in my grief and pain. I have had some of the same worries that Laura described in her book. I was concerned that if I was open and honest about my questions and struggles that I would be judged by other people of faith who would see it as weakness and would disapprove of my openness. I still felt compelled to do so. Now after these past years of being open and vulnerable, I have witnessed how God has taken our story and my willingness to be open and vulnerable in my own brokenness and has used those very things to help others to be open and vulnerable in their own pain and brokenness. I have also been told on a variety of occasions by others that my openness in brokenness has helped them to see that the pain and questions that they have are normal and that there is not something wrong with them. I have fiercely believed that God has loved me in my brokenness and that I have continued to learn more and more about Him as my comforter.
Often when we are in pain and hurting whether it is from grief or from some other painful event in our lives then we may be tempted to pull away from God and from others. Laura asks in her book:
“How can we ever know Him in this way when we have not let Him come into our brokenness and pain?”
I do believe this. He wants to come into our pain and brokenness. He wants to meet us where we are. We do not need to hide our feelings or questions from Him… He already knows our hearts and minds completely. Nothing is hidden from Him. He does not love us any less because we are hurting or confused. He does not condemn us because we do not understand the trauma or tragedies that we have had to live through. He loves us in them. He continues to call us to draw near to Him. He wants to be there and love us in those times.
Reading her story just reaffirmed my firm belief in being open and vulnerable in our story. I know that there are some who have grown tired of hearing it and wish that we would just move on; however, this book encouraged me so much to keep sharing our story and that is how God will be able to use it.
Laura also lovingly shares all that she has learned about worship. She powerfully uses David and the psalms to show what an authentic worship leader was. She explained that no matter what kind of emotions David was feeling or displaying that God continued to use him. Laura said that psalm 40 taught her:
“It was okay for me to come and worship God just as I was.”
Psalm 40 has been a favorite of mine for many years. Her label continued to encourage her to make her songs “more personal”. They asked her “Can you dig into your pain and brokenness and tell your story through your songs?” Again, I loved Laura’s openness and vulnerability about the questions that she had about sharing all the personal aspects of her life, marriage, and pain publicly. Throughout this book she shares her questions, disappointments, pain, and worries.
I loved hearing how the song “Blessings” came to her. She was just on a drive to a different state and was reflecting with God on so many things as her husband slept. She ended up pulling over onto an exit and wrote the words that came to her on the back of a gas receipt. It was beautiful and that song ended up going to #1 on the charts. She describes it as a simple song and yet there is such power and truth in the words and message. There is such beauty in the vulnerability of her music. She wrote down these words,
“We pray for blessings, we pray for peace; Comfort for family, protection while we sleep. We pray for healing, for prosperity; We pray for your mighty hand to ease our suffering. And all the while, you hear each spoken need, yet love us way too much to give us lesser things. Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops? What if your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near? What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”
I love how she shares her struggle in how she felt called to be open in her brokenness and yet she did not want to admit her doubts and questions in public. This spoke to me so much because I have struggled with this as well. I know that others see how I have shared my grief and pain as weakness. I know that often our culture looks up to those who portray “strength” even if that is not what they are feeling. Yet I believe true strength is completely in the decision to be open and vulnerable in our pain and brokenness.
It is difficult to be that vulnerable with others. We often feel inadequate. Laura wrote, “I can’t explain my story when I still have more questions than answers.” My heart could not have identified more with her. I have felt this so many times when I have felt called to share and write. I have felt it when I have felt compelled to reach out to others in pain and in grief. She then said that inside her heart she heard God clearly answer,
“I’ve called you to this not because you have all the answers but because you’ve learned to run to me with your questions.”
That is so beautiful and so encouraging in sharing our story. Another song that has truly touched my heart is “Perfect Peace.” Here are the words from that beautiful song:
“Stay close by My side. Keep your eyes on Me. Though this life is hard, I will give you perfect peace. In this time of trial, pain that no one sees. Trust Me when I say that I will give you perfect peace. And you’ll never walk alone. And you’ll never be in need. Though I may not calm the storms around you, you can hide in Me. Burdens that you bear, offer no relief. Let me bear your load ’cause I will give you perfect peace. Stay close by My side, and you’ll never walk alone. Keep your eyes on Me, and you’ll never be in need. Though this life is hard, know that I will always give you perfect peace. I will give you perfect peace.”
Thank you so much Laura. This song is such a blessing, and I know that our hearts may not “feel” that our peace is perfect, but we can trust that God is providing the peace that we need in the perfect way even if our hearts are full of pain and heartache. Thank you for being open in your brokenness and doubts. Thank you for sharing them so beautifully. I am so glad that you have. You have been used in my life many times through the beauty of your music and lyrics. Even in times that I have been too hurt to receive the messages, God still used you to minister to my hurting heart. Thank you for being willing to be vulnerable and open in your brokenness in your music and in your book. You have blessed me many times over. Thanking God for you.
I have put the links to two of my favorite Laura Story songs below. There are so many, but these are two that have truly blessed my heart. I hope that each one of you will know the freedom of sharing your story and of being vulnerable and open in your pain and brokenness. May we all know that is one of the ways that God allows us to truly connect with and to encourage others. Share your story. I am going to keep on sharing ours. ?