Over the past seven years or so, I’ve fallen in love with NEEDTOBREATHE. Their style, their message, their story, and even their efforts to reach East Africa and Central America through their organization OneWorld Health inspire me daily.
There are many moments over the past few years that NEEDTOBREATHE’s music has empowered me. I’m talking set me on fire, kept me focused, and helped me push on to tomorrow. Time and time again I hear their melodies play through my head, and time and time again I am reminded of the solid truths they share.
Here are seven songs that specifically stand out in my mind that I heard in a moment when I just needed to breathe.
And maybe you need to hear them in your moments, too
1. “Wasteland” from the album Rivers in the Wasteland
Two summers ago, I traveled to Zambia, Africa, for missions work. I stayed near a family from the States who live there full-time. Though they lived a few spaces down on the same property, I stayed alone in my own place for a month. It was a hard month. It was lonely. Zambia was experiencing shedloading, which means their electricity was only working for a few hours a day. We had no idea when it would come on or go off. There was sickness all around me, and many of the children I worked with were orphans. Though the trip was life changing and opened my eyes to a whole new world, it was hard adjusting to a third world country. I remember the only album I had stored to my iPad (that didn’t require wi-fi to play), was this album. I will never forget sitting in Africa, without any electricity, listening to this song and holding onto the promise that though there was a lot of oppression, sickness, and pain in Zambia, there’s still a “door filled with light.” And that was all I needed to get by.
2. “Keep Your Eyes Open” from the album The Reckoning
This past summer, I got married in July. Before I got married, I told my (now) husband that I wanted to go on a series of trips. I spent the entire month of June traveling all over the United States and visiting friends and family all over before my husband and I got married. There were so many moments that I missed him. I knew we had a special season right around the corner for us, and I couldn’t wait to get home and step into this season. But first, I knew I needed to leave home, let go, and make it into a great unknown. I lived out of a suitcase for a month, visited wonderful friends and family, and kept my eyes open in each new city I ventured to. There’s so much to learn in traveling alone, and I encourage everyone to do it at least once in your life. Take the trip. Leave home. Make it into the great unknown.
3. “Clear” from the album H A R D L O V E
Marriage is a big commitment. When I was younger, I never thought I would want to get married. I had witnessed divorce between my own parents and questioned if I could one day be a wife and have a successful, thriving marriage. That all changed when I met my husband. I remember listening to this song just a few weeks before our wedding this past summer. And I remember hearing “you’re the only thing I have ever been sure of,” and I knew. Everything was so clear now.
4. “Stones Under Rushing Water” from the album The Outsiders
How quickly life passes by, how quickly the years go by. It seems like just yesterday I was riding my bicycle up and down my hometown. No worries, no fears. Now, I’m realizing how fast years go by. One day I blinked, and I ended up here. When I hear this song, I always think of how short life really is; I think of how I have so little time to soak in the moments with friends and family. And often times, our favorite moments and seasons go by the fastest.
5. “More Heart, Less Attack” from the album Rivers in the Wasteland
As a twenty-something, I’m increasingly aware of how mean, how broken, how cruel our world is. I’m realizing that times are dark and hard and my generation was created for such a time as this. When I watch the news, when I hear people around me spew racism and hate, when I read hurtful comments and opinions on social media, I’m reminded of this song. Every single time. It’s an important reminder to be the light in the year 2018. Be a light in the workplace. Be a light in the classroom. Be a light through the joyful times and the sad times and the easy times and the rough times. And when you really don’t agree with something, it’s even more important to remember: be more heart and less attack.
6. “Brother” from the album Rivers in the Wasteland
Jamie Tworkowski, founder of the organization To Write Love on Her Arms, once wrote, “You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.” When I think of “Brother,” I think of all the moments I needed other people, and the moments they needed me. I think of all of the special people in my life that I know I’ll have a bond with for life. I think of everything I’ve learned from them, everything they’ve helped me through, everything they’ve done for me when I was low. I needed them—to be a living breathing screaming invitation to believe better things.
7. “Rise Again” from the album Rivers in the Wasteland
I ran my first half marathon three years ago. It was just around the time this album came out, and I added the album to my running playlist. I remember hearing this song around mile seven. I felt so empowered, and though I knew the first half marathon course I would ever run would be tough, I knew I could set my sights on where I’m going ahead and my goodbyes to where I’ve been. I knew I could press forward and reach that finish line. Fast-forward to 2018 and many, many half marathons and a full marathon later, and I still feel so encouraged when I hear this song on a long run. I stand on this promise everyday—I’m on the rise again, set my sights on where I’m going, and my goodbyes where I’ve been.