While I understand the importance of surrounding ourselves with silence on occasion, I must say that I'm not a fan of being somewhere that is completely quiet.
If I'm in a room, you can almost bet that there's either a television giving the latest sports news or a radio blaring something — from country to classic rock to Trans Siberian Orchestra (which is what I listen to when writing my columns!).
I like music for at least two reasons — it drowns out the silence that leaves me to think about whatever I'm trying to stop thinking about, and it speaks to me.
If you've read my column before, you're aware of at least two things about me: I believe in a God who loves us very much, and I believe that God speaks to us through any means possible — including music, a topic I've touched on before.
So, with those many things in mind, let me tell you about how music has spoken to me this week — encouraging me in the waning days of winter, as warmer things and warmer thoughts approach.
We'll start with last Sunday, when, feeling a bit discouraged from the colder weather that's been surrounding us lately and from the winter seasons those who are in my life have been enduring lately, a song popped into my head.
• Don't Stop Believin' — As a child of the '80s — quite literally, as I was born in '82 and raised on rock-and-roll from that time period — this song has long been on my playlist. So long, in fact, that it was on my playlist before I even knew what a playlist was.
Much like the Bon Jovi classic I've written about before — Livin' on a Prayer — Don't Stop Believin' is one of those songs we all know, and we can all sing along to. No matter where you are, if this song comes on, you can bet with confidence that there'll be a room full of people belting out the chorus.
As discouraging as that gloomy Sunday was, this was exactly the message I needed to hear: "Don't stop believin'."
It's amazing how much God's voice sounds like that of an '80s rocker sometimes.
The story line is one we all fall for — as it was written back when lyrics meant something, before the days of "Gangnam Style" and Missy Elliot's rhyming patterns. But it's not even the story that makes me fall for this song.
It's the simple message it delivers. Don't stop believing is exactly what we need to hear in most seasons of our lives. No matter where we are, aren't we all hoping for just a little bit more to believe in?
• Give Me Something to Believe In — As a kid, Poison's classic ballad had me wrapped around its finger. From the opening, with lead singer Bret Michaels tapping out the sad tune on a piano, to the sad image of a rejected Vietnam veteran throwing a bottle at his TV, it captivated me, and I watched this particular music video as often as I could.
Videos back then — in the early days of MTV — weren't just girls dressed inappropriately dancing and rappers throwing money up in the air. They told a story.
And the story Poison was telling me was that there were things in this life that were going to hurt, and there were things that I wasn't going to understand.
As C.C. DeVille hypnotized us all with his guitar solo, images of tombstones flashed on the screen, and I remembered that we all need a Savior — from the homeless sleeping on the street to the rich "drinkin' from the golden cup."
"Give me something to believe in," I would say. And in my life, lots has come along that gave me something to believe in.
As a child trying to figure out the world, that became a frequent prayer of mine. I don't know that Poison's intention was to bolster my prayer life.
And as the song says, "Sometimes I wish I didn't know now, the things I didn't know then," but today, my prayer is still the same.
To this day, I still find myself praying the same words. This morning, when I woke up, this song was in my head, and it became my prayer. "Give me something to believe in," I thought.
And almost audibly, the response came: "Don't stop believin'. Hold on to that feeling."
Sometimes, the mountains that we're forced to climb look insurmountable — too big for us to handle on our own. And so we're forced to pray or think or do whatever it is that we do on behalf of the spiritual part of ourselves — because we all believe in something — and ask for something to believe in.
You see, Journey and Poison never knew back in the 1980s, when they penned those lyrics and belted out those songs, that those two songs would become two of my favorites. And they sure didn't know that, one week, I would need to hear both messages clamped together as I did. But I believe with all of my heart that the still, small voice that was whispering to me all along knew very well that there would come a time when I'd need both of those songs to get me back on my feet after a long winter.
Spring is here, my friends, and with so many of us having to wait for what feels like so long, it comes as a relief!
Not only did I feel as if I needed this message this week, but the word believe kept coming up in conversations, and I kept noticing it written on things I'd never noticed it written on before. I needed to hear it and see it, but something deep inside of me told me you did, too.
You, the reader, have your own beliefs, your own prayers (whatever that may mean to you) and your own winters. But something deep down inside of me — that still, small voice — has been telling me that you need to hear this too.
So, here I am to tell you. When you ask for something to believe in, I believe that you'll start to see things worth believing in all around you. Inspiration is in the eye of the beholder. Look around, and I whole-heartedly believe that you will find something worth believing in.
But if it doesn't show up right away, hang in there, and don't stop believing.
Years ago, Winston Churchill said it without the music: "Never, never, never give up."
Journey's version was a bit catchier, but it really gets the same message across: Don't stop believin'!
Zak Lantz is the editor of The Spirit and a diehard fan of the '80s and all things associated with it — such as mullets and guitar solos.