arts & creativity, spiritual, theological

The Gospel According to Kelly Clarkson

As of Summer 2012, it seems I love Kelly Clarkson’s music. Sure, I enjoyed “Breakaway” back when it was a 2004 hit, but that’s because I was 13 years old and it was featured in Princess Diaries 2. Now that “Stronger” and “Dark Side” are all over the airwaves, however, Clarkson is contributing to the soundtrack of my summer.

It’s been a hard summer for me (more on that later maybe) and inadvertently I’ve gotten in touch with my “dark side.” But here’s two (of the many) things I’m learning:

1) “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It can be tempting to counter: “What about things that almost kill you, feel like they’ve killed you, or kill your dreams/plans? Surely those don’t make you stronger! Those just make you suffer.” First, it’s often an exaggeration to say that something has almost killed you, feels like it’s killed you, or has killed your dreams/plans. Second, even if/when those circumstances occur, they make you suffer and they make you stronger. As Romans 5:3-4 puts it, “we also rejoice in our sufferings, <sup class=”crossreference” value=”(H)”> because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” What doesn’t kill you makes you suffer…which makes you persevere…which makes you realize who you are (character)…which makes you realize you are more than your sufferings (hope)…which makes you stronger.

2) God loves me “even with my dark side.” Call me crazy, but when I hear “Dark Side” on the radio and it gets to the chorus, I hear with my ears a girl begging the question that we all wonder (“Will you love me even with my dark side?”) and then I hear in my mind God giving the answer that we all long for (a most firm but gentle “yes“). 

In Psalm 139:11-12, David writes:

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark <sup class=”crossreference” value=”(P)”> to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

Certainly, to me as a human, my “dark side” is dark. As Clarkson sings, “it’s not pretty there and few have ever gone.” But God goes there. Why? Because He doesn’t mind that it’s not pretty there and doesn’t mind that it’s dark there. He’s unaffected by our perceptions of prettiness/ugliness. He’s undimmed by our determinations of darkness/lightness. God is holy. And the sufficiency of holiness totally trumps the superficiality of prettiness/ugliness or darkness/lightness.

“There’s a place that I know
It’s not pretty there and few have ever gone
If I show it to you now
Will it make you run away?
Or will you stay?
Even if it hurts
Even if I try to push you out
Will you return?
And remind me who I really am
Please remind me who I really am
Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?”
The answer: Yes. Yes, my beloved, yes.
If you show it to me, I won’t run away. I will stay. Even if it hurts and you try to push me out, I will return and remind you who you really are. You are mine. And I love you even with your dark side.

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