When I am in the mood for the gritty side of life – the side of life that is unvarnished, real and gutsy, I set my Pandora app to the music of Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Kathy Mattea, and others who sing from the soul. These artists create songs about people living in the margins of life where pain and loss are real and in your face. This margin place is where Jesus did some of His best work with those rejected and marginalized by the religious establishment.
Those trapped in a religious spirit cannot go there because they think they will be stained by something their religious detergent can’t scrub off. To sing or express how we really feel about a life-struggle is evidence for them that our faith is somehow in jeopardy. It doesn’t take much Bible reading to discover this sound expressed in David’s psalms or the life of Job and others.
Our spirituality is the healthiest when it looks freshly sanded and rough, not smooth, varnished, and all together. Somewhere in this gritty side of life, hope must be present, or our song will become just another hopeless dirge. Hope is expressed in its clearest form when heard in the deep and painful trough of life’s margins. It is there where our best music is played because our songs of hope have become the most distinct and beautiful when sung in a place of despair.