For as long as I can remember, I’ve had something to say about what I believe is important in the world.
It’s why I became a songwriter.
Even as a sixteen-year-old boy, I cared about communicating a meaningful point through music. But in my early years, an elusive and poetic lyrical style appealed to me.
As I learned to craft my voice, I discovered a greater love for words. That love, that hunger to write, could not be boxed into a repetitive, pop-rock song. Those four minutes began to feel more like four walls.
Over time, the messages in my song lyrics became more focused and clear to the listener. The themes evolved from angsty teenage feelings into musings on life and faith. As I became a husband and father, my desire to be a better man began to run from my veins and through my songs.
Being a good man at home and in the world became something of an obsession for me. In my upcoming book, Lead Me: Finding Courage to Fight for Your Marriage, Children and Faith, I wrote about how difficult that process of change can be.
“The pain of spiritual and emotional growth can feel more real than physical pain at times. Your whole inside aches as your new self is ripped away from the old. Sanctification can really beat the hell out of you, both literally and metaphorically.”
I can’t help but write about this stuff. I was born for it.
In 2010, my son, Bowen, was diagnosed with heart disease and I started a very personal blog called Bowen’s Heart (bowensheart.com). I couldn’t stop typing about our family’s struggle with chronic illness. In that same year, my band released a song I had penned, called “Lead Me,” about being a better father and husband, that rose to the top of the Christian Music charts.
I didn’t expect it, but millions of people engaged with what I was writing.
Stories from around the world filled my inbox. I saw the power of words and music to touch peoples’ lives in a mysteriously powerful way. More and more, every word mattered.
Yes, every word mattered. It still does. That’s why I write. And why I write more carefully every day.
But now I find myself in a strange position. My passion for writing about important things in the world is still growing. And sometimes I worry that I care too much about the things that matter.
I know. That sounds crazy.
But the world is so polarized, and there are so many ugly and loud voices in the world, using too many words in too many harmful ways.
I work hard to write about important issues in limited words, in a thoughtful voice. But I’ve noticed, that even writing one word related to something that matters, like “abortion” for example, can send people into a fury. That one word, a very important word, written or spoken, can paint even the most thoughtful voices into a corner with radical irrationals and the loud provocateurs.
Even harder for me to digest, I get the feeling sometimes that what people want from me is to make them feel good, and not bring to light the things that are difficult in the world.
Many of the issues impacting our culture don’t feel good to talk about. And it feels even worse to engage them in the public square.
So, I wonder. Am I making a difference? Does it even matter if I use my voice? Does anyone care?
At the end of the day, I have to remember why I write. As a Christian, father, husband and leader, my God-given gut says, “You’ve been given this voice for a reason."
I don’t want to be the man who knows the good he’s meant to do and fails to do it. (James 4:17)
Even if it means I feel alone.
Even if people try to paint me into the wrong corner.
Even if I take it on the chin for standing up for controversial convictions.
I will care too much.
I will write on.