I want to tell you about my freakin' awesome Monday night! “What happened?” you ask? The short answer is that I went to a Mumford and Sons concert. And my car was stolen.
Let me back up and explain.
For several months, up until, well, halfway through Monday (Memorial Day), I had been stressed out, crabby, not particularly thankful, and approaching burnout. Picture an antagonistic Eeyore. I didn’t like being around me. Then Tuesday I was joyful, excited, thankful, expectant even. I felt like I was the real me again--that everything that had buried me before was pealed off.
A word on my concert going history. I’ve been to a handful of concerts, most in small venues seating two or three hundred. The largest seated a thousand, tops. Also, I don’t like loud noise, nor do I like crowds. The one concert that I’ve walked out of was actually a worship concert about ten years ago. I walked out because I nearly had a panic attack during it. This was due to the combination of 1. being squashed in the lobby with a crowd that would make a fire marshal cringe while waiting for the doors to open, and 2. the music was so loud your heart beat in time and I had forgotten ear plugs.
About two months or so ago, a good friend asked me if I’d like to go to this concert. She is a huge Mumford and Sons fan, and knew that I like their music. She also insisted on paying for my ticket. I was going to say yes before that, but free concert for a great band—heck yes! As the concert approached, I learned bits and pieces about what the concert going experience would be like. First, it would be large. It was at the Rose Garden in Portland. This is where the NBA Trail Blazers play. It can seat twenty thousand people.
Later my friend asked, “Do you mind general admission tickets? Because that’s what I bought.”
“You’re paying, so I’m not going to be choosy about my seating!” I jovially replied.
“Well, it’s not a seat. It’s standing on the floor. We can be as close to the stage as possible that way,” she replied, her eyes gleaming with excitement.
“Oh. Well, ok.” Pause. “Just curious, how much personal space do you have there?” my inexperienced concert going self asked.
“Less than none. It’s like a huge four hour long hug.”
“Ah.” Longer pause. “And we’ll be directly in front of the speakers. I mean literally standing mere feet from them, right?”
“More like directly under them. But basically yes. And we’ll be able to hear all the amps on the stage.”
“Ah. I’m going to need better ear plugs.”
As the day of the concert approached, my nervousness about crowds and loud noises crept up and jumped my excitement about hearing a great band. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go in and stay for all of it. I wasn’t even quite sure that I wanted to try, since the possibility that I would have a panic attacks was rather unnerving. But I did go, since, in no particular order,
1. My friend bought my ticket and I wanted to honor her by receiving the gift well.
2. It’s Mumford and Sons, and they’re pretty freakin’ awesome.
3. I’m stubborn.
4. I’ve been trying to actively confront fear.
I am very very glad that I made the decision, in spite of fear, to push through and go to the concert. That decision made room for the opportunity of my experience at the concert. My decision to try—even with an exit strategy in place—gave God something to work with.
So what did God do and how did He do it? Well, there had been several months of groundwork confronting fear, praying, and being prayed for, which had prepared they way for the catalyst that was the concert. Put another way, the roller coaster had been climbing that first hill, and the concert was the moment of cresting the hill and plunging into the adventure. It’s hard to put the experience, event, and emotions into words. While I went in afraid that I might leave because of a panic attack, not only did I stay for the entire concert, but I had an amazingly fun time! I went in browbeaten by fear and left jumping and stomping on fear’s ugly face. Here are two highlights.
The lyrics that Mumford and Sons write are thoughtful and often draw from Christian imagery and themes. One of the songs they played was, “Awake My Soul”. Hearing 20,000 people at a rock concert singing the chorus “Awake my soul. For you were made to meet your maker,” is quite something! Singing with gusto and dancing as the space allowed, I prayed for all the people who hadn’t met their Maker there that night, that as they spoke those words over themselves, their souls would awake and they would see, and would meet the One who made them and loves them. It was really something interceding for an arena full of people!
Mumford and Sons closed the concert with the song, “The Cave.” If you’re not familiar with the song, you should watch the video or read the lyrics here. No really, go ahead and watch it.
The song talks about walking away from fear, holding on to hope, and walking in boldness and trust. Which is exactly what I’ve been resolving to do and what God’s been pushing me towards. It also happens to be my favorite Mumford and Sons song.
For the duration of the concert I was three “rows” back (i.e. standing behind two people). My friend was two rows back. When “The Cave” started, she pulled me forward and swapped places with me. I had doubted that being six inches closer to the stage made much difference, but it does! Her literal invitation forward was also a symbolic spiritual invitation forward. I sang and danced and declared and proclaimed and worshiped! It was one of the most intense and joyful and triumphant God times—right in the midst of a rock concert. It is difficult to explain, but it was awesome! I went in almost expecting the crippling anxiety of a panic attack, and instead found: boldness, joy, trust, rest. I hadn’t realized the extent to which fear had stolen these from me. Where I least expected it, in the midst of a throng of people, at a deafeningly loud concert, God recovered what was stolen.
As we left the concert all hyped up from the energy of it, I was also bouncing off the proverbial walls from excitement and joy, jumping and skipping as we walked back to my car. We had found street parking to avoid the exorbitant cost of the parking garage, and just before we rounded the last corner to where my car was, I thought, “My car’s not going to be there.” This thought surprised me. It wasn’t a pessimistic thought, it was just matter of fact. And ten feet later, sure enough, empty parking spot. Falcor, my highly coveted teal green ’94 Ford Escort wagon was nowhere to be seen.
In that instant I had a choice. I could freak out because my car was stolen. Or, I could trust. Interesting, seeing as how I had just made this huge declaration of trust, not more than twenty minutes ago! So I knelt down and committed to trust God with my car and my transportation needs. I realize this sounds crazy. Honestly I do. I mean, my car was stolen. How could I possibly be calm? And eight hours earlier I would have been anything but calm and trusting. Had my car been stolen that morning instead of that night, I would have had a cow freaking out, worrying about how I’d get to work, how I’d replace it—my worst case scenario brain would have been in overdrive. But my roller coaster had crested the hill, and I deliberately chose not to go backwards. Fear had been broken. I would not let it back in. So I trusted.
(Side note. Before this sounds like a works mentality, where the responsibility is on me to make things happen, let me say this. What I did was choose. God provided the grace and momentum. I chose to get on the roller coaster. God powered it up the hill and off through the adventure of the ride.)
Now, I’ve left out a lot of cool pieces of the story (since this is a blog post and not a book!). There’s what should have been in my car when it was stolen, but by “chance” wasn’t in my car that day. There’s the faith building adventure of safely—and completely without incident—traveling home across town without a car after midnight! And then there’s how so many friends offered rides, baked cookies, lent me their truck for the week and insisted that I stay for dinner when I picked it up. :o) My car was stolen on Monday, but I am the most content, peaceful, joyful, and grateful I’ve been in many months!
My main emotional reaction specifically to the car is that I am mostly indignant that the enemy of our souls would try something as petty as stealing my car to try to distract and get me to live in fear again. I made the conscious decision to separate the experience of the concert from my car being stolen. Because I could remember the night for what I experienced during the concert or I could let it be tainted and spoiled by the theft of my car. But I chose to recover what was stolen—joy, boldness, trust, rest.
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind
So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears
But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again--“The Cave” Mumford and Sons
**as of Satuday morning (6/1) Falcor is still missing. I will update when he is found.