Since before I could formulate cohesive sentences I was jamming to four artists/groups: 1) Alicia Keyes 2) Mary J. Blige 3) Destiny’s Child and 4) The incredible Ms. Lauryn Hill. Lauryn Hill is the only artist that I know that can release one album and a subsequent one “doesn’t even matter“. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is one of my all-time favorites, and I’ve never gotten tired of listening to it (big deal for me). However, her newer material is what I’m here to discuss. A couple months ago I was introduced to “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind“, and I highly recommend you all listen to it. As I scroll through social media posts, read through news headlines, talk to friends and family about their lives or even when I get lost in a hectic week peace of mind is the last thing that I experience. And then this song starts to play on my morning playlist, and I really have to check myself because it lowkey reminds me that peace of mind is what God calls us to have. The song has a double meaning that may not be noticeable until the end, so using scripture and the lyrics of the song let’s break it down.
1) What or who is pouring into you? A.K.A. What are you surrounding yourself with?
In a culture where looks and likes trump interpersonal connection and the “I’m fines” overpower expression of true feelings, or even more prevalent where feelings are unleashed but true healing never occurs. A culture where self-medicating and dulling feelings with commonplace alcohol and drugs while the stigma of seeking out resources for mental health still reigns. So I ask, who or what refills you?
In the first verses of the song Lauryn talks about how a past relationship or even alternatively the enemy in any form he might take (past lover, friends, family etc.) continues to whisper things to her that are limiting:
“He says there’s no me without him
Please help me forget about him
He takes all my energy, trapped in my memory
Constantly holding me, constantly holding me
I need to tell you all, all the pain he’s caused mmmm
I need to tell I’m, I’m undone because, mmm
He’s says it’s impossible, but I know it’s possible
He says it’s impossible without him, but I know it’s possible” (Hill, 2002)
He reminds her of her past and how she cannot accomplish anything on her own. He brings her back to a place that she’s trying to let go of and despite her progress he continues to tell her lies about her abilities. You find her trying to convince herself that he’s wrong. I challenge us all to think about individuals or things that continue to entangle us and stop us from reaching our full potential and goals. Is who or what you’re surrounding yourself with pushing you closer to being the best version of yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically? Or are you drained?
These are essential questions that as both believers and non we should be asking ourselves because any fear, hopelessness and chaos does not come from God. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that the Lord “gives us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” He further reminds us in Luke 21:34 that we should “Be careful, or [our] hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” What is the root of your anxiety, worries? If you can put your finger on it boundaries must go around that person or thing or it needs to be cut off completely (Phillipians 4:6-7). Christ calls us to be free and not bound (Galatians 5:1)!
2) What or who are you trying to please?
This point is most important to me because for so much of my life and even still pleasing others has come before pleasing God or myself. I overcompensate and try to make everything perfect so that other people can be comfortable and happy, while my own needs oftentimes get overlooked. People-bondage is the term that describes this and it’s something I’m aware of and have been actively reversing. When I began to stop valuing other people’s expectations of me over my own or what God was asking me to do I was and continue to be at awe by the night and day feelings I’ve experienced. Verse 2 of the song finally delves into a new relationship that Lauryn is experiencing:
“To finally be in love, and the know the real meaning of
A lasting relationship, not based on ownership
I trust every part of You, cuz all that I…
All that You say you do
You love me despite myself, sometimes I fight myself
I just can’t believe that You, would have anything to do
With someone so insecure, someone so immature
Oh You inspire me, to the higher me.” (Hill, 2002)
God calls us back to Him and to trust Him with our lives, plain and simple. Once we trust Him, He guides us. You don’t have to come to Him perfect or with everything figured out. He’s constant and consistent. He never leaves even when we mess up. Pleasing people and trying to live up to worldly expectations will always fail because opinions and money and certain lifestyles are fleeting. Hebrews is one of my favorite books of the bible and it constantly checks my whole being. In chapter 13 verse 5, we are told to “Keep [our] hearts from the love of money [anything can be inserted here] and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” So, I ask are you content where you are? If not, why not?
3) What is your focus?
I’ll leave the last few stanzas of the song at the bottom for you to delve into, but as a synopsis Lauryn finally reveals that the individual she was talking about loving her was God. She submits herself to Him and asks for a new foundation, to remove anything barring her from Him. She knows that if she focuses on Him all things will work out. Her past does not matter because she is brand new in who He is and who He identifies her to be. God calls us to find our identity in Him not what others say we are or think we should do or what the current trends are in our society dictate. He chases after us and just asks that we do the same (and it’s a process lol). Isaiah 26:3 states “You keep him (or her) in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.” Again, God is constant, He never changes. We can find all that we need in Him. He gives us our identity, peace, protection, provisions, love. Literally, there is nothing that God cannot provide. So finally, a question I ask myself everyday especially with Petty Pamela and Pop-Off Patty (Patricia) try to sit on my shoulder: what or where is your focus? Then I ask, how is it affecting your emotions and stirring your actions. If it ain’t God then it ain’t it.
My challenge for us all is to get more centered on what God is calling us to do and who He sees us as. To rest in His consistency and put all our cares onto Him because He is always there.
|Final Verses (Hill, 2002)|
|“You make my desire pure, You make my desire pure
Just tell me what to say, I can’t find the words to say
Please don’t be mad with me, I have no identity
All that I’ve known is gone, all I was building on
I wanna walk with you, how do I talk to You
Keeping me from Your love, what was I thinking of?
Holding me from Your love, what was I thinking of?
You are my peace of mind, that old me is left behind
You are my peace of mind, that old me is left behind
He says it’s impossible, but I know it’s possible
He says it’s improbable, but I know it’s tangeable
He says it’s not grabbable, but I know it’s haveable
Cuz anything’s possible, oh anything is possible
Please come free my mind, please come meet my mind
Can you see my mind, oh
Won’t you come free my mind?
What a joy it is to be alive
To get another chance, yeah
To get it right this time
Everyday’s another chance
Oh what a merciful, merciful God
Oh what a wonderful, wonderful God”
Lauryn Hill. “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind.” MTV Unplugged 2.0. 2002