Do you know that scene in the movie "That Thing You Do"? The one in which the small-town band hears their song on the radio for the first time and completely freaks out? That's how my husband, Dave, and I felt on Halloween, 2009, when we turned on our car stereo in Phoenix and heard my very own voice singing, "I have unanswered prayers…" on K-LOVE, a network of over 400 stations nationwide. The station I grew up listening to was playing my song "Your Hands"! It felt like a dream. A dream that was too big to even dream about.
The validation of having one of my songs spin on stations all over the country (for an audience of millions of people!) felt amazing, especially because we hadn't sent the song to Radio as a single. Truth be told, "Your Hands" stuck out like a sore thumb because it was so drastically different from anything else that was being played at the time. Sore thumb or not, people were responding. Listeners often shared they had been moved to tears, and needed to pull their cars over until they regained their composure.
Leading up to the release of my new record, LOVED, we pitched my song "Who You Are" to Radio this past January. I love this song. I began writing it a few years ago after I was struck with the concept that there are many times in life when we are faced with tragedy and it's impossible to see why God would allow it. It's in those times when we can't see what God is doing, that we can still trust in His character. This truth resonated with me in a profound way, and I knew I had to write a song about it.
I was feeling extremely confident that Radio would snatch it right up, but when the first of the year rolled around and the time came for stations to start playing it, things were not going well. We were faced with the reality that twenty or so other artists had brand-new singles out, and we were competing for a very limited number of slots on radio playlists. Our two promoters worked hard to champion our cause, but were receiving feedback that the song was too heavy. They were told that people wanted to hear more positive songs when they turn on the radio.
I'm not going to lie, I was genuinely surprised when stations were slow to add "Who You Are." Not in an I'm-awesome-so-why-aren't-they-playing-my-song sort-of way, but in an I-believe-God-can-use-this-song-to-bring-so-much-healing way. Oh, the irony of not understanding what God was doing. He was teaching me (again) the lesson in my own song.
Even though it is painful to be rejected by Radio, Radio does not determine the success or demise of my career. God does that. To be honest, I have moments when I turn on the radio and think, "Why are they playing all of those songs, and not 'Who You Are'?!" And then Jesus reminds me that He is in charge of those other bands' careers too. I sheepishly ask for forgiveness and remember that radio play all those years ago was an unexpected gift from a generous Father whose dreams for me are bigger than my own.
I have no idea if I will have many more songs on the airwaves, or if my radio days are behind me. What I DO know is that as long as God is using my songs to bring healing, hope and truth to people, then we WIN! My success is not measured by the Billboard charts. My life is made more meaningful when I hear the stories of lives being changed through my songs. Even when I don't know what God is doing, I know who He is.