Bryan Sirchio & Crosswind Music January 2018 Newsletter
Well... 2017 Was The Hardest Year of My Life
Quite an inspiring opening, huh? Don't worry, I'll lighten up further in this article, but it's true. I experienced more personal pain and heartache in 2017 than any other year of my life. And it cost me. I wasn’t anywhere near as productive or effective or successful in my work as I would have hoped. There were too many days when all I could do was find just enough energy to simply get through the day.
I imagine many of you know exactly what I mean. You've been through some devastatingly painful times of your own.
And there’s no way to sugar coat the personal hell of that kind of debilitating sadness and grief. I’m not even going to try. It sucked. How’s that for being poetic and ministerial?
Of course you’re probably wondering what happened that was so painful. I would be too if I were reading this from your perspective. Thank God, no one died. It could have been worse and I'm grateful it wasn't. The losses and heartbreaks were of other kinds, and the simple truth is that I’m not going to get into the specifics of my tumultuous 2017 here. If you’re a friend or colleague (or just can’t take the suspense!) and really want to know what I’m referring to, then email me and I’ll be glad to tell you more. There’s nothing to hide or be ashamed of. Just losses that were extremely hard to bare.
2017 Was Also One Of The Most Important and Therefore "Best" Years
Why? Because a few things in my life that needed to come to a head finally did just that. They needed to come to the surface in a messy and unambiguous and unavoidable way so that I would have no choice other than to face them, get real, and deal with them. And I’m almost reluctant to say it—God, if you’re listening, this is not me asking for MORE!-- but in some ways I think my heart NEEDED to get broken open. I’ve learned some crucially important and life-changing things that just might have required a total heartbreak to learn.
“Required” or not, all I can say is that God has used this time of heartache in some powerfully beautiful and healing ways. That much is obvious.
When your heart gets busted wide open and you’re in so much personal pain that you can barely eat, sleep, or function, it seems that God’s Spirit can “get to you” in ways that often change everything—profoundly for the Good—even though, to put it mildly, nothing about it feels good at the time.
As I quipped in a Facebook post last Fall (and the idea wasn’t completely original—I’d heard something along these lines stated before but I can’t remember where or by whom);
“God is a stunningly brilliant Surgeon, and a stubbornly poor Anesthetist.”
Yeah a lot of people “liked” that post. Because it’s painfully True. I often found myself saying to friends last year that the Divine is evidently doing some radical surgery in my life. I didn’t ask for it. In fact I didn’t want it. It wasn’t gentle or subtle or the least bit pleasurable. But it’s occurred to me that sometimes what we may need the most in order to get where God is leading and where our own hearts long to go, are the lessons learned through heartache, disappointment, grief, loss, or perhaps a good old tough Love spiritual kick in the rear.
As a preacher and artistic interpreter of Bible stories none of this should have surprised me. For that matter the classic “Hero’s Journey” of most stories of transformation (i.e. Joseph Campbell and every Star Wars movie for example) and every major spiritual vision or framework I can think of also affirms and underscores the perennial Truth that a serious spiritual journey will often lead one through times of great struggle, loss, personal reckoning, wrestling with demons, fighting with dragons, etc. These experiences are often the flames of the Refiners Fire through which our lives are transformed most decisively and often in ways that open up something new and beautiful for ourselves, for others, and maybe even for the world.
But knowing all that doesn’t make it suck any less when you’re in the midst of it—very much for REAL—in your own life. I mean this ain’t no movie…
I know I’m not saying anything most of you haven’t already experienced yourself. As Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller once put it when his life was falling apart (the personal crisis that led to his founding of Habitat), “It’s amazing what God can do with you when you’re flat on your back.” Or as songwriter Leonard Cohen put it (and which I quote in my song, “The Diamond”);
There’s a crack in everything…that’s how the Light gets in
So yes, my heart was cracked wide open in 2017, and wow, did God use that opening to pour fresh Light and Love into my being. It took a while---over a year---but I am finally, thank God, in a beautiful and entirely new place in my life AND IN MY MINISTRY as a result of that crucible. I’m so blown away and grateful for the gifts of insight and growth and healing and learning that I have received AS A RESULT of what I’ve just been through that I’m—in my more centered moments—ALMOST daring to be grateful to God for all of it. Almost. In my more centered moments.
So why do I share this with you?
Well first, to encourage you if you or someone you love is going through a really painful time. I want to remind you, as the song my daughter Emma and I wrote IN 2017, “God Has Seen Us Through,” (select this link to purchase the download of the song and/or guitar lead sheet and piano arrangement) that God is with you right now if you’re in a crucible of transformation and that God will give you everything you need to not only make it through, but to thrive and flourish once again. I know this with my life. It's no accident that I wrote the lyrics to this song (which is taking off like no other song I've ever released by the way) during my crucible year of 2017. (Click here or the image below to see the lyric video of "God Will See Us Through" on YouTube. It is also posted on Facebook).
I also want to remind you of the mind blowing, truth of Romans 8:28—that “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose.” That doesn’t mean God causes all things to happen exactly as they do. Causality issues quickly get us into a theological quagmire that I’m not going to step into here. But God USES EVERYTHING that happens to work for good in our lives.
As Richard Rohr, one of my favorite authors, puts it—God is the “Ultimate Recylcer.” Nothing’s ever wasted (that Richard Rohr mantra found its way into the chorus of my song, “Inside The Whale”). All our experiences, including if not especially the most painful ones, wind up teaching us and expanding our hearts. As Rohr puts it so often, “we learn more from getting it wrong than getting it right.” It’s the things learned the hard and painful way that so often become the most valuable and helpful gifts we have to offer others. “All things work together for good.”
“Rekindle the Gift That Is Within You” (2 Timothy 1:6)
But here’s the best thing that 2017 did to me. Among other things, the heartache and emotional exhaustion caused me to seriously question whether or not it was time to end my itinerant musical ministry altogether and do some other kind of work. Well I can’t take time to get into all those questions now, but the result of it all was that I experienced a profound and fresh call to be more committed than ever to my music and my work. As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:6, “Rekindle the gift that is within you.”
Thank God, that’s exactly what has happened through the heartache of 2017 for me.
It woke me up. It made me want to rededicate myself to my ministry of songwriting and recording and music ministry and to give it 110% for whatever time I have left on this beautiful earth.
So, God willing…
You’re going to be hearing from me more often via these newsletters.
I’m going to be releasing more new songs that I hope God will use to bring hope and healing to people and make the world a bit more loving and just.
I’m going to be promoting the launch of The Convergence Music Project (CMP) with more focus and drive than ever, and helping other songwriters and artists find a wider audience. Click here or on the CMP graphic below and you'll be taken to a video of me explaining what CMP is all about.
And I’m going to be out and about doing lots of live events. (Click here to see Bryan’s 2018 schedule so far)
So here’s to a Joyful, productive, faithful, fruitful and UPBEAT 2018!! At least that’s my plan A and my prayer, and I sure hope the Divine Surgeon is in agreement!!
Thanks for all the ways you are on this journey with me.
With Deep Gratitude,
I've Got Some Calendar Openings This Spring That I'd Love To Fill...
Please be in touch if you'd like to have me come to your congregation for Sunday morning worship or an afternoon or evening concert.
I have a few open Sundays this Spring:
February 28 (Sunday night in the Seattle, WA area)
Call (608) 577-8716 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let's make it happen together!