If you don’t know who Andrew Peterson is, then you will hopefully want to when you finish reading this. He is a singer-songwriter and author, who sang/spoke in chapel the past two days. If I could describe both these chapels (and the small concert he put on Tuesday evening) in just one word, I would say moving. It was deeply emotionally moving, and I can’t say that I describe a lot of things like this.
When I go to concerts (of any size), one of my favorite parts is listening to the band just talk in between sets. They tell stories and talk about why they wrote their songs; they’re often funny and sometimes really awkward. Just listening to them casually talk makes them seem like real people and not just a voice you hear on the radio. You connect with them through the things they experience and the emotions they feel.
Andrew Peterson had visited my church a few times, so I was familiar with his songs, but I never knew his stories. Listening to his testimony was so incredibly moving, even more so than just the melodies he played.
There are so many things I feel like I gained from listening to him that I hardly know how to sort my thoughts, so I’ll just write in chronological order. On Tuesday, he read us the first chapter of a book he is working on. Everyone I sit with in chapel commented about how hard I was paying attention to this. I guess I sometimes am not very engaged with the speaker, but, wow, did this get my attention. Andrew talked about the creative process of writing both songs and books. I can’t really call myself a writer, but I am a creative person, so I very easily applied this to my own artistic endeavors. Diligence is the key. If you want to write, don’t try to write a book. Write sentences. Those sentences become paragraphs. And books are built of paragraphs. Start small and keep at it.
Next, Tuesday evening was more of a concert —here’s me and my friend Anna at the show:
I felt like I really connected with Andrew Peterson during this set. He talked about something that was really personal for him: a three year period of deep depression. But what I found so inspiring was that his response to this was to write songs about God. He very easily could have written sad, depressing songs like a lot of musicians do during a dark time of life. But he chose to see hope and love and peace in Christ, rather than dwelling on the darkness. I heard a quote once that said “sadness is happiness for deep people.” and I’ve always believed that, but I don’t think this should be true — not for followers of Christ.
I don’t talk about this a lot, but I went through a pretty terrible depression a little over a year ago, and I ended up dropping out of school because of it. There was a lot of medical stuff that I’m not even going to get into, but my response was to let the darkness in, and I embraced it. I like writing poetry and I let myself write sad, depressing pieces. Going back and reading those now, there’s so much hopelessness in them. I know now that I let my eyes turn away from Christ and let them focus on me. I was surprised to hear that Andrew Peterson, though experiencing this darkness for three years, worked to keep his focus on Christ, and he wrote songs about hope in Christ. People always say to write about what you’re going through, and I felt like that’s what I was doing, but I realized that even if I am going through the hard thing, I can still write with a sense of hope — a hope in Christ.
That leads us to chapel today, Wednesday. Andrew Peterson ended his visit by singing some more wonderful songs, losing his guitar pick, asking an audience member if they had one, forgetting the words to his own song, and again asking an audience member to Google the song lyrics to help him. He’s a down-to-earth kind of guy and showed us that it’s okay to not have everything together. God can still use you.
Both of these chapels were amazing and if you want to watch them (which I’m pretty sure you do), you can check them out on the chapel archive.