Secular Songs

BY: Sarah Rainey


I have a confession. I love top 40 hits. Say what? Yes, I know, top 40 songs aren’t exactly the most praise-filled, godly, spiritual, (insert any generic religious adjective here), etc.

Some are downright dirty and scandalous.

Yet when I hop in the car, my first instinct is to flip on the radio to the nearest mainstream station and start rocking out.

Although I can’t hold a tune, I belt out the lyrics loud and proud. I’m in love with the music, the feeling, or the tone of the song, not necessarily the actual lyrics.

My guilty pleasure has taken a new turn in recent years. Since I’ve been forced to listen to the lyrics as well as the great beats they’re paired with, I’ve started taking a greater interest in the words.  More specifically, I like reinterpreting them in a spiritual sense. Now, I can’t do this with all songs or all parts of a single song, but every now and then inspiration strikes. I understand the songs may be talking about things completely different, but reinterpretation is therapeutic for me. And yes, it helps me justify listening to the top 40.



Cause I’m broken
When I’m open
And I don’t feel like
I am strong enough
Cause I’m broken
When I’m lonesome
And I don’t feel right
When you’re gone away

Although the song is older, I occasionally catch it on rock stations while road tripping. The music is often described as gothic metal; it’s a haunting song, yet beautiful to listen to. The chorus of this song, to me, expresses the inherent anguish one feels when separated from a fulfilling spiritual life.

There are times when I’ve felt separated spiritually due to my own negligence of failing to pray or attending fellowship with other faithfuls. When life crashes down on me, like it has many times before, I break down and run back to God. It is at those times that I feel most open, the most physically and spiritually weak and vulnerable. Although I know I am technically never spiritually alone (He is always there for me), I don’t always make myself available in prayer.

Seether and Amy Lee aptly describe how I feel: I don’t feel right. I’m broken in need of fulfillment and wholeness. Often we seek religion to find wholeness, unity, and peace. Absent our faith, we feel disjointed or just plain “off.” That’s exactly how I feel when I drift away. The pursuit of wholeness continues to draw me towards my spiritual community. Perhaps it’s selfish to be so needy, or maybe it’s just a fundamental part of the human condition.

As I drive down the road, this song reminds me to stop and give a prayer of thanksgiving for the peace and sense of completeness that I have. Even if the song isn’t originally intended to provoke such thought, my repurposing of this song has given my bee-bopping down the road a whole new meaning.



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