Helllooooo everyone! Hello me. It’s late here in Braunshcweig, about 2AM as I write this. We have just arrived this evening, after quite a drive from Paris this morning. I’m kicking myself to sit down, reflect, and share a little bit on my blog. I am so thankful for all of your support and being excited with me for this opportunity to be here… so I wanted to be sure to share this with you guys. I am learning each step of the way and having a lot of fun out here. We haven’t played any shows yet, the first being tomorrow. Since arriving, we have been to Paris and driven through the French and Belgian countrysides to arrive tonight in Germany. Here are a few nuggets.
Our first stop after arrive in Paris at around noon was to meet Matt Marvine downtown. Matt works for Integrity Records and is a Pastor in France. He took us to Crepes and told us about his life and what he feels like he is supposed to do in Europe in regards to music. It was refreshing to hear his love for his people and God. I was inspired from our lunch to think more deeply and care more… just about everything. I felt like we got spoiled because we didn’t have to fumble through ordering from the menu (though) we still did… and we felt so welcomed here. Then, later that evening… we saw this:
An obvious highlight. It is something you couldn’t even explain. When I saw the Eeiffel Tower I had a true, soul moving experience. Again… it’s something no words or pictures could explain. It just simply felt insane. I can see why Paris is portrayed as a romantic place now. I couldn’t understand it before I was here… but something about the beauty, the history and the environment makes you think about love. And as I much as I love Shelby and Kerri… I couldn’t help of think of what it’d be like to be in this place with your person. What a thing to do. I’ve thought about love a lot. Maybe I’ll share in extra credit if I can stay awake until then.
Today, we got up and left Paris and drove to Germany. I dread long drives, but this one was the most beautiful drive I’ve ever taken. We ended up taking the GPS’s suggested route to avoid toll roads, and it took us through the most incredible towns and rural roads. This picture is us after finding some delicious Pain Au Chocolat in Peronne somewhere up in Northern France. as we continued our drive to Germany. This is again, something that I couldn’t even explain… but the scenery was so moving and refreshing. I was experiencing something truly remarkable.
After driving through Belgium, we decide to stop in Calogne to take a look at the Cathedral and have some German food. We ended up having Schnitzel and Kolsch. After that, we continued our drive to arrive here three hours later.
(fast forward a day). We played our first event on Sunday evening at Tom’s church. Tom is an amazing guy I met in Athens when he was working for Habitat Humanity there. I think that was three or four years ago. It’s crazy how our paths have crossed again. Tom helped set up the shows and has opened up his family’s home for us to stay at here in Braunschweig. Tom is a part of Braunschweig Friedenskirche, a local church here, and we were invited to play at their evening service called Fiesta. We played a mixture of modern worship songs, Lion’s Den songs, and one of my own, “Humility” at the end of the service. Honestly, I got really nervous beforehand… thinking to myself… oh wow what have I done. But as we were leading worship, I was able to catch a glimpse of something truly beautiful. Folks from all across the world… literally, singing songs together and praising God. This was an incredibly special moment, as I was able to witness that vastness of God and even see how music could truly be a universal language. We met some really amazing people at the Braunschweig Church, Lukas and Hannes even joined us and were part of the band!
EXTRA CREDIT: EVERY PATH’S END
My favorite and most scary part of doing this. But also the reason why I like to blog and share about my experience. As cool as the sights and experiences are, I believe there is something more valuable to share. The painful, difficult and growing dynamics that are happening beneath the surface… this is what binds all of us together, and really what makes experiences like this one worth any while. The extra credit:
It’s nothing like I expected. It’s nothing like it seems to you. The stuff you see online, the videos and pictures and the “this is so amazing” parts… Is all good and really true, but it’s not the full truth. It’s not that I am not thankful to be here, or that I’m feeling like I’m in some ways lacking, not at all… in fact thinking that would just be plain stupid. I mean yesterday we drove through rural France. But, I believe, there are things to learn from this experience. Deep, meaningful things to learn and things to grow out of. And something that we may have begun to understand by now is the fact that all growth requires death. It requires stretching. discomfort. destruction of ego. destruction of pride. It’s all very painful.
I am being confronted with a challenge within myself to take a look at the why behind the things I do. Why do I do music? Why did I come to Germany? Why do I write songs? Why do I play shows? And for some reason, behind all the way out here… away from all my comfort and familiarity, surrounded by insecurities, doubts, and fears… the question “why” has been raised so loud to a point where I had to begin to answer. It is terrifying to be honest with myself about this, as I have begun to bravely look at my selfishness. So much of what I do, how I think, how I portray myself to you…is all about me. It’s all for me. Every road, paved towards myself. To fulfill my dreams, to fulfill my desires and my need to be somebody in this world.
So many of my pursuits are an illusion, wrapped up in Godly and righteous looking language and facade to fool you into thinking I’m a more amazing, talented, righteous, or loving person than I really am. Something about being here has slowed me down, and has allowed me to look at myself directly in the eyes. It has allowed space for God to speak to me and meet me in my stillness and weakness.
Before our first show in Braunschweig, I thought for a few moments that everything I had tried to do was in vein. I was haunted with this question, “why the heck am I even here? Why did you try to do this tour in Germany in the first place?” I was riddled with anxiety and shame as I realized… Wow. I did this whole thing… I brought my friends over here, routed the shows, made cool graphics, shared it on instagram, posted stuff about it… for me. So you would love me. So you would see me. So you would be impressed by me. So you would admire me. And within a matter of moments, my soul broke. My heart broke. and in a moment of deep fear, thought… “wow, this whole thing is going to be a complete waste… all bout you.”
But you know what’s so amazing about us as people with a choice? And also the incredible grace of God? Is that we have the opportunity to humble ourselves, listen, and respond to love. True love is the invitation into something more fulfilling and meaningful. Something that will heal our own lives and in turn heal the world around us. Love is a different path. And in that church service in Braunschweig, God met me with so much grace and began to lead me into something new. He blessed us with the incredible experience of being loved by the church community, getting to spend time with them, learn from them, and just observe the dynamics of their friendships and mindsets. If you want to be humbled, experience unconditional love and hospitality… these are things that these folks have modeled and challenged me with.
I am coming to terms with the harsh reality that I am a product of a “me first” environment. One that values self over any other thing. America, as I’ve experienced, idolizes success, productivity, and influence… above connection, community and hospitality. Everyone is fighting for a spotlight as if it’s going to heal them. We are desperate for attention and meaning. Being here is illuminating these things in my heart in a reckless fashion. It’s so obvious.
But as I’m being broken over my own motives, I find healing. I find grace. I have time to grow. I have time to readjust and I’m not held to my moments of selfishness. And though, if I were honest with you, so many of the paths coming into Germany were about me… it can change. I can change. My heart is clay and not stone. And it is a privilege to change and to admit these things, to you and to myself… because then, I find the chance to begin again. I want every path in my life to end at others and to end at God. I want to continue the hard work of giving my life away, even in my motivations. I want to be the kind of person who slowly repaves my roads to go away from me… to point to someone greater, to point to something more meaningful and beautiful. I want to take part in the world’s healing, even if it’s just to a few people. And I’m realizing now, that it’s a lot harder to do that when I’m designing everything around me to fulfill my own dreams and desires. And what’s most incredible about this is that even as I’ve pivoted a few degrees in my heart, made the slightest change in direction… I can already feel love grow for the world around me. As I shift the focus and attention off of me.. I see God. I see the people in my life. I see my neighbor. And in this outward position, I find true healing.
Where do your path’s end?