“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”Isaiah 43:2
When I think about the best moment of my weekday, I automatically think of my morning commute to my college campus from my house. This drive barely deserves even to be called a commute since the longest it has ever taken me to get there is 15 minutes, and that was when it was raining so hard I couldn’t see two feet in front of my car. Nevertheless, this time has always been special to me since attending this college as a dual-credit student in 2019.
I use this drive time as my morning reflection time with God. I put on whatever gospel or praise music that has been speaking to my heart recently, and I pour out my soul in worship and song as I drive the familiar route. I am generally stressed about an assignment due or a test looming on the horizon, so I have found that listening to my Christian music in the car before beginning my school day is the smartest, healthiest choice for my overall mental health.
Of course, different songs speak to me at different seasons, and for different reasons.
2021 was a rather tricky year (although not nearly as much as 2020), so I had many songs that acted as my “soundtracks” of the day, week, or month. So I thought, in celebration of 2021 and to welcome in the new year of 2022, I could share a couple of my favorite “holy soundtracks” that have inspired me and connected me closer to God this year.
Also, quick disclaimer, these songs were not all produced in 2021, that is just when I discovered them and started listening to them.
- Steady by Natalie Layne
The story behind the song – According to an interview by CCM Magazine on Youtube, Natalie Layne wrote this song back in March 2020, when the quarantines were just being instituted in the United States, during “the first week when everything hit.” She was just feeling all the uncertainty in the world and felt the theme of steadiness repeat over in her mind. It led to the eventual creation of this song in collaboration with a few fellow Christian songwriters.
“It just hits so deeply”. Layne said, “With the uncertainty that we are feeling in the world, we have a God that anchors us to the ground”.
Why I love this song – I had added this song to my Spotify playlist after hearing a cover or one of the verses on TikTok (yes, I have TikTok, I enjoy a good laugh and cute animals and babies, sue me) and kind of forgot about the song for a couple of months. Then I put the playlist on shuffle one morning when I was driving to class, feeling especially stressed because of a project that I kept getting stuck on, no matter how many revisions I did – with a looming deadline mere days away.
I just let the song play out and I felt God speak to me in one particular part of the song:
When I’m walking through the valley of the shadow of death
And the wind’s so cold that I can see my breath
Heavy with the fear weighing on my chest
Hold me, would you hold me?
Surrounded by the dark and I can’t break through
Lies so loud, they’re drowning out the truth
Can’t trust myself, so I’m trusting You
Hold me, hold me
This beautiful imagery captured my attention, and I remember thinking, “yes, God, this is where I am. I am scared, frustrated, and confused and just need my Father to hold me.” So I continued to listen to this song, practically on repeat for the next few days and during the weeks of preparation on this project. I just let it remind me that no matter what suffocating emotions I felt constricting me, God is always ready just to hold me and carry my burdens for me.
- Made For This by Carrollton
The story behind the song – According to an article on the Saved Radio website, the band’s lead vocalist/guitarist Justin Mosteller describes the song as “the passionate outpouring of a deep conviction we have about this “thing” we get to do”. And what is this thing he is referring to?
It is “our purpose of glorifying God in every work and action.” Carrolltown has made it clear that as a band, they do not just want to write and produce worship music, but music that also captures the experiences and journey of being a Christian.
Why I love this song – This song feels like a battle cry of sorts but in a positive kind of way, not a bloodshed-and-murder kind of way. This song helped bring me from a spiritual lull in my walk with God and got me a bit more fired up about the truth of Christ’s sacrifice and love for humanity.
It reminds me that we were created to reflect God’s love to other people in our lives and boosts my confidence about sharing the Gospel. As a Christian, I often find myself wrestling with questions like:
Am I really qualified to be someone who represents what being saved looks like?
Does my testimony even really matter to anyone else?
What if God is disappointed in me?
This song helps me quiet those kinds of questions. It reminds me that as Children of God, we are, in fact, made for this.
- Into The Sea (It’s Gonna Be Okay) by Tasha Layton
The story behind the song – In an interview with The Christian Beat, Tasha Layton said that when she was writing this song, she was “drawing from some experiences I had when I was searching in my faith and felt desperate for a change”, specifically in the verse that says ““I’ve blamed myself and if I’m honest maybe have blamed you too.” This speaks to the thought that Christians often have about if the challenges we are facing in our lives are someone’s “fault” – either God’s or our own.
Why I love this song – As most of you know, I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, which means I have the superhuman ability to worry an insane amount about completely ridiculous things as well as entirely valid things. And oh boy, did this year provide a LOT of both of those. It is also harder to be anxious when everyone else around you is also living on the edge of a breakdown because you do not have a rock to cling to.
Well, no rock except God.
When I got stressed out about college, politics, COVID-19, or just life in general, it was so comforting to have a song that touched a special place inside me and told me that it was all going to be alright because, with God, no season of life is wasted. No times of trouble or strife are too horrible to overcome – especially when He is a part of our lives, every day.
I hope you enjoyed this exploration of 3 of my favorite Christian songs of 2021 and learning a bit about the people and stories behind the music. Feel free to drop recommendations of Christian songs that have helped you get through hard seasons in the comment section! I am always looking for songs to add to my playlists!
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Until next time!