This is an article that I wrote for a magazine back in January 2012. It was never published, so rather than waste it, I thought I would publish it here…

DustyThere’s always great excitement in my house over the latest remastered album. Even though I may already own the album in a different format, I will rush out to buy the new edition and run home expectantly to enjoy the pure, fresh, clean sound. For those of you not in the in the know, in a nutshell “mastering” is the process of removing any unwanted noise from a recording and making all the tracks the same level of volume and equalisation. The days of a crackly record or the sound of the musician or singer turning the page on the recording are long gone. Mastering is process of refinement and attention to detail, often resulting in the mastering engineer going over the project again and again.  For one of my projects I sat in the studio with the mastering engineer as he poured over the material; he could hear things that I couldn’t, such as the sound me knocking the music stand during the vocal recording. A tiny, small sound but it could have spoiled the enjoyment of the song. There were other elements we decided to keep in the recording to keep it authentic and real; less perfect more accessible. A live, unfettered element to the music helps build rapport with the audience.

This got me thinking about way life refines us. The challenges of life can leave us with scars and wounds. Little hurts that we pick up and carry along the way can allow us to become blemished and blinkered, and will ultimately hinder us and lead us away from the person that God wants us to be.

The process of healing and letting go of the past is very much like being “remastered”. As we hand over our emotional wounds to God, he wipes away the scar from our life recording. The process of forgiveness allows us to be refined and become pleasing before God. The actual action of believing that God can cleanse us leads to healing and restoration. The faith of the Centurion in Matthew 8 is testament to the action of “believing” that God wants us to be whole. He didn’t even feel worthy to have Jesus in his house, yet he knew that Jesus could wipe away suffering by one word. And just with a touch a button the sound of me knocking music stand was wiped from the recording…

But what about the hurts that continually plague us? Does this mean that we healed? These are the wounds that God wants to use for his glory. The healing is continuous and a constant reminder. In mastering terms, these are the sounds and noises that the engineer chooses to leave in the recording. Although God heals these hurts, he then provides us with opportunities to show to others our humanity. I had an experience a few years ago at work that really knocked my confidence, not just in my musical ability but also as a person. It affected every part of my life and made me question my worth. It took me a long time to allow God to heal my wounds, and every day I still have to ask for his help with my confidence. But what I have found is that it is in our weakness where His glory is most visible; as we turn to God for help we become more like him. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul tells us that God is perfectly able to use us in our weakness, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” It’s these weaknesses that make us real and give us the ability to help other people who are going through the same situation. These are the noises that God keeps in our life recording. They help to shape us and build our relationship with Him.

Although I enjoyed my remastered album, I bet there are still quite a few sound impurities that I can’t hear on the recording. There will always be some sounds that shouldn’t be there and other noises that make the track real and interesting. That’s the reality of life; there will always be something that we need to leave with God for His attention. We’re not ready for perfection yet, but we are working our way towards eternity with God when we will be truly remastered.

Helen sunDo you remember when Mike and the Mechanics sang Over My Shoulder? I used to sing along to that song in bedroom, standing on my bed, yelling into a hairbrush. I was eighteen at the time. Twenty one years on, nothing has changed, except now I repeat the same performance with my eight year daughter. One the sad things about the song is that it is full of regret and hankering after the past. I was driving to work the other day when this song came on the radio and it got me thinking the consequences of looking back when we should be concentrating on the future. At the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt. She was told not to, but a fleeting moment of curiosity ended her life. I don’t do regret, it’s a lens that distorts the reality of the future. It leads to nothing and makes us focus on our failures.

If we constantly have our eyes on the rear view mirror, we repeat the cycle of who we were and not what we could become. Time allows to move forward but never back. We are given a gift of moving  forward and it’s up to us to choose how we react. We can meet the future with hope and expectation or with fear and sadness.  Even when we pass through seasons that are not what we want, every day moves us closer to something much better… even when we don’t feel that way. When Alanis Morissette sang “the only way out is through”, she hit the nail on the head. Sometimes we have to grit our teeth and believe that there are better things on the other side of the season.

A few months ago I hit a wall with the whole music thing. Everything I had built up came crashing down and try as I might I could not rebuild it. Truth be told, I was too knackered and broken to fix it. Years of being a freelancer, performer, teacher, composer and everything else had worn me down. I kept looking in the rear view mirror and what I had lost and wondering whether there was any point continuing in music. But the law of life is that as something dies, something else is born and new shoots begin to sprout. Things are already moving on and I’m getting back some of the music opportunities that I lost a long time ago. I have opportunity to reinvent my music and in turn myself. Life constantly evolves and we should take every opportunity to grow and develop.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s don’t look back over your shoulder, face the future and reinvent yourself. Reinvent yourself