Wes and Andrea both told me about Kesha’s new song, “Praying,” which I was grateful to hear about since I was just stuck in a cycle of disappointment, outrage, and confusion regarding Taylor Swift’s anti-climactic single, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
They both thought it might be appropriate for worship, so I’ve been listening to it today. It’s a pretty powerful song. Let me begin by saying that the song is general enough that we can probably apply it to our lives. Kesha is singing about the freedom she’s received through her strength, through her healing, and through her forgiveness. She is teaching us all how we can be stronger and why forgiveness is part of that. Even if you don’t relate to what she is singing about directly, we all have something to learn from her courage.
Kesha is a victim of abuse at the hands of her producer, Dr. Luke. It’s a brutal story and deeply saddening—especially because Dr. Luke can still benefit from her latest record.
From genius.com, Kesha states, “This song is about me finding peace in the fact that I can’t control everything — because trying to control everyone was killing me. It’s about learning to let go and realize that the universe is in control of my fate, not me. ‘Praying’ was written about that moment when the sun starts peeking through the darkest storm clouds, creating the most beautiful rainbow. Once you realize that you will in fact be OK, you want to spread love and healing. If you feel like someone has wronged you, get rid of that hate, because it will just create more negativity.”
For Kesha, the horror she’s been through seemed to leave her enslaved. She sings that this person told her she was nothing—and after she’d been through it all, she is grateful for the suffering because of the strength she endured. How brave and how vulnerable. I’m impressed and moved by her. So often I want to avoid my suffering, but she went through it and came out alive and better.
Through her tribulation, she started to learn how to fight for herself. The trial and tribulations she endured—which she describes as “hell”—taught her how to advocate for herself. She’s not just a victim, she’s more than that. She’s stronger than that. God be with her.
Although some of her theology isn’t totally in line with mine (I’m not sure the universe controls my fate), she’s striving toward something and getting some faith. I think that’s inspiring and wonderful. And refreshing to hear on pop radio (when so many songs are just so painfully shallow).
She is actually praying that Dr. Luke is repenting of his sins, and finding wholeness and transformation. It is a wonderful image of forgiveness, that is also empowering.
Through her difficulties and trouble, she has more opportunities to share and to heal. Not unlike what this very song may do for those who listen. Kesha is speaking for people who have been abused everywhere and leading them to greater pastures.
At the beginning of the song, she states that she wasn’t even sure she could go on without him, and now, she’s so strong, she’s certain that his impact on her life will be meaningless to the masses. “They won’t even know your name.”
She finally concludes with the admission that she prays for him, she prays for his wholeness, that he sees the light. She prays for his peace, too. She sings, “No more monsters, I can breathe again.” It’s crucial for victims of abuse to get a safe place where there are no more monsters. We are committed to doing that in Circle of Hope. Some wolves are not well enough to be in worship where they continue to prey. It’s that simple. Her ability to breath again is why she could forgive. We need safety to do that. I’m glad she felt like she got it and I hope we keep providing it.
It’s an amazing demonstration of forgiveness and enemy-love. The kind that we all learn from and the kind that Christians should pay attention to, in particular. I wonder if we can apply what Kesha is teaching us. Not just for victims of abuse, whose journeys are distinct and hard to replicate, but for those of us who are holding on to pain and can’t let go. Can we see the freedom Kesha is singing about receiving, the compassion she is demonstrating, and the hope and strength she ultimately finds in forgiveness, grace, and compassion. Our sometimes bloodthirsty desire for vengeance hurts us more than anything—rest assured, forgiveness will not stop God’s justice from coming forward (and as Christians, we are friends with God’s grace and mercy and his righteousness and justice, so don’t misunderstand me). But for our own sake, forgiveness can be freeing and empowering.
Thanks, Kesha, you’ve inspired me.
Thanks to my friend Kristy for helping me write this post.