A Married Man’s Break-Up Playlist (or Why We Need More Break-Ups in Church)

I had a really crappy day last week. So for the ride home, I created a playlist that I thought would go along with my mood. So today you get to see my Bad Day Playlist.

Do you notice a theme through these?

Break-up songs.

I realized as I was listening, that some of my favorite songs (The Scientist, Slow Dancing…, Brick) are break-up songs. I wondered if it was even helpful to enjoy break-up songs since I have no plans on going through one again. But there are few things more cathartic than a break-up song after a long and wearisome day. Because somehow, a really gifted singer/songwriter can make not only the lyrics but the melody and even each instrument mourn along with them.

They make the best songs.

I heard Peter Rollins speaking recently and he gave me a good theology of break-up songs. He said every worship team should have at least one in it’s set list. Not a break up with Jesus song, but what you would expect a singer-songwriter to create after a really difficult relationship loss. The kind that captivates you and you want to listen to again and again.

The reason for this is that we often come to church and spend all of our time stuffing down our darkness and brokenness. When we have bad days, or we encounter our own darkness, or are harmed by the brokenness of others, we go to church and have to smile and pretend like it didn’t happen.

But we have the exact opposite reaction when we hear a break-up song.When you hear a break-up song, it stirs something within you. It communicates deep emotions and reactions to a world that is not the way it is supposed to be. Life has not turned out the way we had expected, and we join the artist in the response. It brings our own woundedness, brokenness and even our darkness to the surface.

Instead of stuffing it down, we begin to admit it, grieve, and we allow the experience to change us. True transformation begins when we are honest with our brokenness.

Some people assume that admitting our hurt and struggle makes us weak or keeps us in bondage to it. But admitting our struggles is what sets us free.

When we have the freedom to express our difficulties and frustrations, and when we can engage them with beauty and truth, it changes us and moves us beyond it. Ignoring it will just keep us where we are. And there are few better avenues of allowing this to happen than music.

Church is the place where we go to encounter Jesus and others and to be set free from the things that are holding us back. It should be a place where we can be honest and authentic and not have to hide behind a Sunday smile. It should be the place where we know we can be real about how difficult life often is.

And perhaps the place where we start is worship.

So I agree with Pete. Let’s have more break-up songs in church.


**By the way, I think Robbie Seay Band does a great job with this. Check out their songs on the playlist.

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