The past year and a half has continued to be life changing for me in so many ways. God has pushed me through a brick wall that has been there for years and he has used a variety of people, music, and teachings in my life to do so. If I would pick one word to sum up this year, it would be vulnerability. God has brought new friends and relationships in my life that have challenged me and blessed me in a good way and I am thankful for that. But the three major things that stick out to me is the study called Faithwalking, rapper Andy Mineo, and BTS’ Love Yourself series. What do all of these have in common? Being human and vulnerable and facing ourselves.
The fall of 2017 a lovely friend of mine contacted me about participating in a weekend retreat called Faithwalking. It took some time, thought, and prayer on her part and mine, but I knew it was something God was drawing me towards and something I needed in my life. Faithwalking is “a spiritual formation process where people are increasingly following the way of Jesus, experiencing ongoing transformation, and developing effective practices for missional living: serving the poor, the marginalized, and those in need; working for the common good; and restoring individuals, social systems, communities, and nations to God’s intended design.” (www.faithwalking.us)
The founders of the Faithwalking program are deeply convinced that “Jesus demonstrates the fully human, fully alive life to which we are all called. As you participate in [the Faithwalking] ongoing spiritual formation process, you will discover your true self that is full of passion and desire to make an impact in the world. You will also receive teaching, coaching and support as you identify and remove the obstacles that stand in the way of living life as your true self.”
Faithwalking did help me identify and start removing obstacles in my life and work on being more vulnerable, which has led to fully breaking down the brick wall of fear and insecurity I’ve dealt with for years with my music and creativity. Music is powerful and vulnerability is vital to its impact and transformational power. My third concert I performed this summer was a new and beautiful experience for me compared to my last two. And there are other creative doors opening that I don’t think I would be able to walk through if it wasn’t for the work I’ve done through the Faithwalking program. The tools I gained through Faithwalking are ones I am still using today, even this past week. The transformation and growth will continue for the rest of my life.
I discovered a great example of the power of vulnerability in music through the rapper, Andy Mineo. About a year and half ago I came across Andy, and not too long after, I listened to a podcast called Creative Pep Talk where I heard Andy talk about his struggle with, fear, anxiety, and second guessing himself as a creative after his rise to fame with Heroes for Sale (2013) and Never Land (2014). In the interview, Andy discusses his personal hang up about caring about other people’s opinions, being too careful trying to please other people and the importance of writing for yourself, and being a rapper who has a faith. I am so thankful to Andy for being open and vulnerable about his struggles and insecurities. Finding someone who has struggled in a similar way as me has helped me to break through my personal brick wall of fear and anxiety. You can listen to the funny and deep Creative Pep Talk Interview below:
In April 2018 Andy released the first of four EPs, I: The Arrow, featuring “I Ain’t Done,” which addresses Andy’s struggles. The music and lyrics are powerful!
I was also blessed to experience Andy and Lacrae live this past November at their last concert on their Better Late Than Never Tour. Not only was the concert lit and fun, but vulnerable and powerful with personal messages from both artists.
In an interview with Relevant Magazine this past October, Andy states, “What I’ve typically learned in life is that people aren’t vulnerable because their afraid of being shamed…we’re not going to be vulnerable because we don’t want people to see who we really are because then people will reject us and push us further away. But what I’ve noticed in my life is that people actually are drawn in closer when people are being vulnerable. And their more endeared, their less likely to leave because they feel human next to you, or they feel like someone understands them. And so, it’s very common intuitive thing to be vulnerable…people don’t leave when you are vulnerable, I think they draw closer. But that’s not for every circle…your fans will be drawn to that. There will always be people who take your vulnerability and use it against you but, I think that’s what I built my brand off of from the beginning.”
BTS, Love Yourself, Face Yourself
I won’t be surprised if people who know me are already sick of BTS, but then I would say, if you really knew them and their mission, I don’t think you would ever get sick of them. But I digress…
You can read about BTS here and here. I’ve already written a lot about them, but as the Love Yourself series grew to a powerful conclusion with their third and final album in the series, Love Yourself: Answer, I realized that I personally identified with their message of loving someone else so much that you would do anything for them, including changing who you are or wearing a mask to cover your true self. I think it is safe to say we’ve all done it at some point in our lives. Either when we were younger or for some of us, we still do it today. Learning to Face Yourself and Love Yourself for who you really are IS being vulnerable and is vital to any healthy relationship you have both romantic and platonic. I applaud these young men for being genuine and honest with their fans for the past five years and continuing to open those doors of vulnerability. Even with all the success they have achieved in the past year and a half, they ended the year with vulnerability at the Mnet Asian Music Awards where during their acceptance speech for Artist of the Year, Jin came right out and stated they almost broke up a year ago due to mental exhaustion in the midst of their success (mental health being another issue they address in their music).
So yes, there were a lot of other cool things that happened in 2018, such as the Oedipus production, concerts, and the NAPAMA Retreat. And also some not so cool things, like a car accident. But, I would say it was a fun year of slow, but powerful transformation that continues to today. Even over Christmas and New Years I’ve come to more realizations about myself and the role anxiety has played out in my life over the years. It’s all growth and moving forward.
Blessings to you and your loved ones this new year! May your year be filled with vulnerability, love, passion, and joy…and lots of great music.