“…With you is where i want to be.”

“How I Love you

oh How I love You

You have not forsaken Me

How I love You

oh How I love You

With You is where I want to be.”

I remember when I first heard these lyrics many years ago. Bethel Music had come out with a new worship album and Shepard became my favorite song. The release of this tune, by Amanda Cook, came out during a time when I felt like I was going through hell. The lyrics sustained me. I knew if I sang those words over and over again my heart would believe them- no matter how terrible I believed my season to be. The song gave me hope.

Fast forward a year later: I was in the same place I was a year prior, only slightly different. I felt like my circumstances would have improved at that point but things had only gotten worse.

That summer I was a counselor at my church’s youth camp- it was ten days of hanging out with some awesome high schoolers and many of my friends. It was a week I had been looking forward to all year. In my head I had built this camp up to something that it could never achieve. That time was nothing like what I had expected. Why did I create unrealistic expectations in my head? The truth was I was unhappy. My life hit a curveball in 2014 and it felt like bun 2015 I was even more discouraged. One night at camp we gathered for worship and a sermon- one of the songs that was sung was Shepard. The bridge came and everyone sang along “How I love you…you have not forsaken me… how I love you… with you is where I want to be…” When I sang those words- instead of feeling hopeful and felt distraught. Every word I sang stung, and I began to cry. I wasn’t just unhappy- I was angry. Why was hadn’t my life changed? I felt like The Lord made so many promises to me in 2014 and here I was a year later- more empty than I thought I could ever feel.

Fast forward another year- this time I’m in the band at the same camp. Guess what song was on the weekly rotation? That week was even harder for me than the year before: this was my last camp. As soon as that week wrapped up I was going to begin my journey of moving to Florida. That year I felt even more empty than the year before. One of the last nights of camp we sang Shepard. That bridge came again but this time I had to help sing back up. I was overcome with emotion and had to turn away from my microphone (highly recommend to not completely lose it when you’re playing an instrument on stage.) More than ever singing these words felt impossible.

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Fast forward to present time: almost 3 years later. I had a similar feeling- a feeling of hopelessness and sadness. A friend reached out to me and told me to read psalm 23, where it talks about how the Lord never leaves us or forsakes us. For the first time in ages: Shepard was then stuck in my head. I decided to play it off of my laptop while I did some yoga. The bridge of the song began “How I love you, oh How I love you, you have not forsaken me…” except the second part came and was suddenly overcome by something “How I love you… with you is where I want to be.” All of the sudden I felt as though The Lord was saying to me “I’m singing that part back to you.”

Here what this meant to me in that moment: nothing I have experienced has been in vain. No moment is ever a waste. In each season of pain I went through, God felt it to. Maybe my charismatic church side is showing a little too much for some who are reading this but bare with me for a moment. This message is not for me alone. What I want to convey to whomever is reading this and struggling is that- you are seen and you are strong. Whatever “singing during the rough times” looks like to you, keep doing it. So often we believe our perseverance is not noticed. Morgan Harper Nichols says describes this type of season perfectly “No matter how long this journey has been, you are still traveling, wrapped in grace, and you have not yet reached the end.” It is easy to feel like we are being punished, but what really is taking place is Jesus desiring to sit with us through it all. He feels are pain. Keep going my friends, valleys are difficult but the mountain top isn’t as far as you think it is.