Music has always been a major part of my everyday walk with God. Because I listen to a vast variety of music, God tends to find me in the most unusual of places and songs. Recently, I have been extremely touched by Eminem's song “Not Afraid” from his latest album, 'Recovery.' The song portrays the story of a man putting his life back together despite his mistakes and past, he shares with the world where he has been, and where he is going. This is a song of hope, of recovery.
As a young adult, I am learning that my decisions affect many, and that growing up is hard. I am learning that mistakes happen to everyone, and we are just trying to muddle through this weird thing called life. My journey into adulthood looks nothing like Eminem's but his latest song “Not Afraid” unites people in a way that can only give me hope. While our roads have been different, the feelings are the same.
If you are not familiar with Eminem, he is a young man who came from a poor home and made it to be a multi-million dollar rap artist. He has been scorned by thousands for his explicit language and his very public relationship with his wife and daughter. He is also known for his drug abuse, and his unstable and violent behavior. However, we should not be so quick to judge. Eminem, just like you and I, is someone just trying to make it through the day, and we should remember it is his life being flashed all over tabloids, and not our own. “Not Afraid” by Eminem is a song from the heart of a man who wants to start over, to make a difference, and to give hope to others trying to recover.
Because Eminem's explicit language in the first half of the song, I am only sharing the piano version with you. However, I encourage you to open your minds and hearts to listen to the original version, as this is a man who is living in the world sharing his struggles and what his future holds. The first half of the song (that is latent with words not acceptable for children) is a depiction of the man that he once was, and the latter half of the song illustrates the man whom he hopes to be, a father, a husband, a man of purpose. I think we have all been 'through the ringer' and this song shows that you are not alone in that. To listen to Eminem's original version of “Not Afraid”–click here.
Eminem has been going through some growing pains of his own over the years. When I first realized the pain in his lyrics I was standing in a dorm room at college fixing my hair and listening to the radio. The song “When I'm Gone” began to play and I remember getting goosebumps listening to his heartbreaking lyrics as he sang about his shortcomings in fatherhood and marriage, and his constant battle with drug & alcohol addiction– and fame. I remember feeling overwhelmingly frustrated when I was told to turn that trash off by someone down the hall. I fell asleep that night crying, feeling convicted by the realization that there were people out there hurting in ways that I never knew. That the people we hear on the radio are struggling to survive, and all eyes are on them.
“When I'm Gone” by Eminem challenged me to listen to music in a completely new way, to watch the news and tabloids in a completely new way. I began praying for these people, writing letters to them, and hoping that in some way they would find comfort in their fears, and peace in their hearts. It wasn't a prayer for salvation, or a prayer out of judgement, but a prayer for a friend, a person I had come to know and love through their music.
As believers we have a responsibility to love and encourage people where they are, not where we may think we are already. It is very easy for us to pass judgement for those in the spotlight as we sit comfortably in our own privacy. Eminem has made mistakes, but so have we. The acknowledgement that celebrities are just like you and me, with hearts and feelings, and thoughts and passions is crucial and humbling. We turn on our radios and invite music into our ears, but what if we began listening. People are suffering right before our eyes, and we are pointing fingers at them, when really they need a hand to grasp. I am just as guilty as the next, and I continue to remind myself of these hard humbling facts: We are all children of God. He loves everyone of us as His own, and He doesn't play favorites.
Eminem's “Not Afraid” is a reminder that we are all 'walking this road together, through the storm, whatever weather, cold or warm'. My challenge to you this week is to pray for those who are suffering, those who are hurting, who are in recovery, those who are searching for hope.
I challenge you to listen to some of Eminem's music, to keep an open mind, and to look at this man with new eyes…you might be surprised by what he has to say—
“And I just can't keep living this way
So starting today, I'm breaking out of this cage
I'm standing up, Imma face my demons
I'm manning up, Imma hold my ground
I've had enough, now I'm so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now
It was my decision to get clean, I did it for me
Admittedly I probably did it subliminally for you
So I could come back a brand new me, you helped see me through
And don't even realize what you did, believe me you—
I've been through the ringer, but they can do little to the middle finger
I think I got a tear in my eye, I feel like the king of my world,
Haters can make like bees with no stingers, and drop dead
No more beef flingers, no more drama from now on,
I promise to focus solely on handling my responsibilities as a father.
So, I solemnly swear to always treat this roof like my daughters and RAISE it!
You couldn't lift a single shingle off it!
Cause the way I feel, I'm strong enough to go to the club
Put up a fight and lift the whole liquor counter up
Cause I'm raising the bar–
I shoot for the moon, but I'm too busy gazing at stars
I feel amazing and—
I'm not afraid to take a stand
Everybody come take my hand
We'll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just let you know that, you're not alone
Holla, if you feel that you've been down the same road!”
Lyrics from “I'm Not Afraid” by Eminem