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.

Something unusual caught my eye on Facebook the other day, it was a post stating that Alanis Morissette is backing Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 30 day Forgiveness Challenge. At first I thought I’d read the headline wrong, but closer inspection confirmed my initial reading. Why would rock n roll Alanis Morissette back a campaign with Desmond Tutu?

As we all know, Alanis is famous for her 1995 hit single “You Oughta Know” which is about an acrimonious break up with her boyfriend. One thing I’ve always admired about her is her honesty in both her lyrics and in her public life; she has the ability to air her thoughts in a revealing and restorative manner. I too can attest to the need to think through and order my thoughts on various situations through the process of songwriting; there is something very cathartic and healing about letting go and accepting where I am. However, Alanis’ latest response to this creative process made me think…

“I naively thought that the writing of a song could provide healing, but I quickly came to see that regardless of how many nights I would sing ‘You Oughta Know’ over and over again on stage, that the real healing came from actual relationships and communication.” Alanis Morissette, 2014

A bold admission considering the song made her a household name and helped sell 33 million copies of Jagged Little Pill. Through admitting her mistake and making her journey into forgiveness public, she has undoubtedly encouraged and helped many people to experience the same forgiveness and healing. I found her statement very moving as she was prepared to be an “open book” and declare that what she had intended as a public declaration of anger hadn’t fulfilled or healed her. Alanis has stated that up until that point she found songwriting cathartic but it didn’t offer her any healing and that this eventually pushed her to discover where forgiveness begins: with acceptance of each other. In being honest, she has taken responsibility for her former emotions and taken her listeners on a journey that helps them to grow and mature.

The song that she hoped would hurt and seek revenge became part of Alanis’ journey into freedom; she thought her story ended with pain but through time it ended with something very beautiful, absolution and a chance to become a more rounded person. An inspirational tale, it gives us hope that whatever our circumstances are, something good can come out of it if we are prepared to wait and make changes in our lives.