The Best Thing

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When I was a kid, I loved back-to-school time. I loved picking out my backpack, buying pens and pencils and dreaming about what my new teacher and classroom would be like. There was also always a small undercurrent of anxiety. Would I fit in? Would I have friends to sit with at lunch?

I think of my own children getting ready to go back to school, and I want them to know they don’t have to change who they are to belong. I want them to be exactly who God made them to be. Quirky and kind and amazing. 

I remember hearing a story about a kindergarten boy being teased. When a bully told the boy he was a waste of time, the little boy responded, “Well, God made me, and God don’t make no junk!” I couldn’t agree more. God doesn’t regret the way He made you!!! Every moment we spend trying to be someone we’re not is a moment wasted. God made each of us unique and I can’t help but think it makes Him sad when we change who we are in an attempt to fit in. 

When writing this song with Dave and Jilian Linklater, we started talking about how we don’t write songs that fit squarely in the Christian Music genre. My songs don’t get played on the radio because they don’t have a certain sound and the lyrics aren’t direct enough for radio programmers. For awhile I tried to change who I was to write songs that would get played on the radio. The songs still didn’t get played and it left me feeling frustrated and bitter. It was a miserable season.

Then I feel like God gave me a gentle nudge, reminding me that I need to write the songs He puts on my heart to write. So I wrote lullabies. Then I started releasing a new song every month expressing what was inside my soul. And that’s when my music started consistently connecting with people… when I allowed myself to be who I really am instead of pretending to be someone I’m not.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy to blaze a trail on my own. It can be hard to see awards shows and social media posts of my peers being recognized and given trophies, but that’s when I remind myself that I’m not doing this for medals or to make it on top of a chart for a moment in time. That’s no longer the metric I use to measure success. For me, success means reminding people they’re not alone. It means writing songs that express what it means to live life to the fullest… whether those songs end up on the radio or not.

St. Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.” So here’s to reflecting the glory of God by being who we really are. Quirky and kind and amazing. 


P.S. A very special thanks to Bethany Hamilton her team for allowing us to use footage from her new documentary Unstoppable in this music video. Thanks also to the lovely Joy Prouty for the footage of me singing my heart out on the porch, and to Jillian Linklater for helping us write this song.

P.P.S. When I saw “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable,” I cried. Her story stirred something in my heart. Her tenacity and courage in the face of all sorts of adversity is inspiring (to say the least). But I think what moved me most was her decision to keep surfing even after her accident. 

She loves surfing. She comes alive when she’s in the water. It’s who she is. 

So she made the brave choice to keep chasing what she loves. Even though it’s harder to surf with one arm. Even though there might be sharks in the water. 

Maybe you’re facing adversity right now, and it’s tempting to change who you are… to take the path of least resistance and pretend to be someone you’re not. 

But please don’t. The world needs who God made you to be. 

You have a song to sing.

JJ Heller