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{It’s become a tradition of sorts for me to post this blog during this time of year. This piece was originally written in December 2014}

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Have you heard the song Hallelujah?

No, not that one—or that one. The full length original by Leonard Cohen. It’s a deep, vulnerable, haunting song that gets you at the core of your being. It’s not a song to take lightly or even listen at leisure. It’s a song you need to hold on tight and hope your soul makes it alive to the other side. 

Recent renditions will leave you breathless at the harmonies and musical climax of the song. But the original is long and drawn out with lyrics that make even the most worldly of people blush.

And because of the lyrical content it makes me wonder what in the world people are thinking when young kids sing it or choir robes are donned. Most recently GodVine (faith based YouTube-like) categorized Hallelujah saying, ‘Celtic Thunder Gives this Christmas Hallelujah a Whole New Sound’. 

So, let me get this straight. A faith-based website considers Hallelujah a Christ honoring Christmas song? Yikes. (Read the full lyrics here)

There is something you need to know. Just because the song has the words God and hallelujah in it does not qualify it to be a faith song of any kind, nor is it automatically appropriate for kids to sing, and for the love of God, it is by no means a Christmas song.

Try sitting around the Christmas tree this year sipping on hot cocoa with the folks and your kiddos singing these words:

“She tied you to a kitchen chair,
broke your throne,
and cut your hair,
and from your lips drew a hallelujah.”

Ummm, yeah. That’s not going to go over to well. In fact, let’s be honest there’s something else going on in that line (and throughout the whole song).

Moving on…

I’ve heard really amazing musical renditions of this song. I’ve even heard a couple of beautiful versions like this one and this one, where the lyrics were changed to a Christian bent—and they are undeniably powerful.

But here’s the deal. I prefer the original. The slow, drawn out husky voiced original. I won’t say I love it. And it is by far too painful a song to listen to on purpose or hit the repeat button on. But whenever I hear it come on it stops me cold in my tracks. The song single-handedly ruins me—in every possible way.

And that’s not such a bad thing. It really isn’t. Because sometimes we need something to bring us to a deep place in our journey. And for me, this song is just that.

See, this isn’t a song to be redeemed into Christian lingo or even have a group of unknowing kids sing amazing harmony to. It’s more than that.

It’s a soul song.

A raw, sensual, honest, aching soul song. And it gets me every time. Not because I’m tying people up, or caught up in watching someone bathe on the rooftop, good grief—no.

But because within just a few minutes time I’ve been transported to an unhealed part of my soul by a haunting melody and even more haunting voice.

And it is in this unhealed soul space I watch the flame of hope snuffed out by cruel calloused fingers who thinks he’s got me right where he wants me…

Afraid and alone.

But he doesn’t. And I’m not.

Because I know better. I’ve been to unhealed soul spaces before. I’ve been face to face with what looks like defeat and hopelessness, but I’m telling you the truth when I say it is all a mirage. It’s not real. It is never real.

But I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s easy or it’s a place I want to go to often. I don’t. It’s painful to allow the door of your soul to swing wide open and see exactly what condition it really is in.

And when that soul song gets me in a paralyzed state—I pull my knees in close, shut my eyes tight, and feebly pray the most terrifying and vulnerable words I could ever pray to God.

Search me, God and know my heart.
Test me and know my thoughts.

In other words, God, tell me what you see in me. Go on. I can take it—I think.

And in the waiting, the music plays on…and I feel crazy scared and strangely safe at the same time.

And when I dare to open my eyes—I see the secrets, lies, pain, and brokenness covering the walls and floor of my soul space.

And I weep.

I weep…

…because of the ache living in my soul.

…because I am deeply known by the Holy One.

…because I am loved by Him nonetheless.

And I weep because I am not without hope. Never without hope. Never without Him. Never without His love. Never.

And I don’t know how He does it, but my soul space becomes filled with His scandalous grace.

The same kind of grace that brought Him out of Heaven to this earth to spend his first breaths in a dirty, stinky animal trough and His last breaths nailed to a cross.

It’s the kind of grace that takes this girl and all her worn out broken hallelujahs and turns it into a healed hallelujah.

It’s the kind of grace that lights the flame of hope deep within me and flickers ever bright as I once again try to grasp this crazy reality of God in me. God with me. God with us.

God. With. Us.

This song may not be about Christmas, but it most certainly brought me to Christmas.

Peace to you in your sacred journey,

Laura

Will you dare to pray this prayer this Christmas?

Search me, God and know my heart.
Test me and know my thoughts.
Psalm 139:23

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