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How God spoke through my favourite song
A reflection on Cody Fry's "What If?"
On August 11, one of my favourite music artists, Cody Fry, released a new song entitled “What If?”—and it’s a must listen, at least once.
I’m embedding it below because 1) it’s a banger and 2) it’s really beautiful, and I think you should stop everything to listen to it right now:
3) I want to use this song as the foundation of this post: how this song became a staple in my prayer as of late, something that I’ve meditated on a lot, and how it provided me the confidence to do something I didn’t think that I would do—but with the grace of God, I did.
I’ll begin here and do the number one last thing that a writer should do: bury the lede.
I discerned to leave postulancy and I moved back home.
In the time since I’ve been back in Vancouver, I’ve popped up in several places and have slowly integrated back into life as it is now.
I’m not here to get into the specifics of why I left—I think a lot of that still needs to remain between me and the Lord. But rather, I wanted to celebrate the unique ways the Lord speaks to each of us, using everything around us.
Our God speaks every language. He knows how to get to us, He knows what moves and stirs us. And sometimes this ‘language’ isn’t one that we find on the Statistics Canada list. It is something deeper, on the heart level, that only He and I know.
Of course, things like music and song lyrics will eventually fall short. There is no way for anything human-made to fill in the blanks of what God is trying to speak to us each day. But the human-made things can be directed for the glory of God and help us see things in a new way. This is where “What If?” comes in for me.
I will never forget the first time I listened to “What If?” shortly after it was released.
There is a Disney-esque whimsy to a lot of Cody Fry’s songs, and this one is no exception: big, sweeping orchestration, Fry’s lyrical voice soaring over top, background singers à la The Greatest Showman punching in at the climax of the song: y’all, it’s a masterpiece.
Fry himself acknowledges that this song comes from his own experiences with anxiety and navigating life in the space of worst-case scenarios and a debilitating fear of failure, among other fears. He sings in the pre-chorus, “In my mind, what if I fall? /
What if it's in my mind?”
This is the constant tug-of-war that many people who suffer with anxiety find themselves in. There is an acknowledgment that perhaps what we fear the most is really bigger in our head than it is in real life. And typically, we are harder on ourselves than other people are on us.
But this pre-chorus is followed by the triumphal first line of the chorus—almost a declaration that something seemingly out of the question can be done: “What if I fly?”
This was the question that has stuck with me in prayer in the days leading up to the decision to leave postulancy, the days leading up to me leaving St. Louis, and in the days that followed after arriving home. I’ve listened to it over and over, prayed with it, and let it wash over me like a tidal wave.
As you might imagine, it wasn’t an easy decision—and most times, the right thing to do isn’t easy. Sometimes it feels counterintuitive, or even like I’m moving backwards. There were moments where I put this to God: But what if I fall?
And then there were moments where God put this to me: But what if you fly?
I picture a moment where God has His arms open, waiting for me to jump. And I’m standing on something, looking skeptical, mentally calculating the distance between here and there. Even with the knowledge that I’m jumping into the arms of the most secure being—God Himself—what isn’t so secure is the fact that there are no next steps in place. Sometimes it feels safer to just stay put where you are.
In his song, Fry likens this to crossing a bridge with his eyes closed, or not texting the girl he has feelings for because he’s worried about rejection. But in the song, the consequences play out: He doesn’t get to see the view, and he doesn’t open up the possibility that maybe he’s on her mind, too.
In this personal circumstance, and in fact for every kind of discernment for every person, more often than not the next steps are not made clear in the moment when a decision has to be made. We can only do so much work on this side—whether it’s discerning a religious vocation, or reading about a great job at a different company, or thinking about starting a conversation with someone we want to pursue—but at some point, as many more spiritually mature folks have told me, you have to make the leap. And it is only in going to the other side that new doors open up and new opportunities arise. We take what we learned and worked with, and integrate it into the new experiences. The steps become clearer, and God continues to lead.
“What If?” has something beautiful to share on the topic of discernment.
In a nutshell, it shows that there needs to be a level of boldness, along with prayerful prudence and fortitude in each of us as we navigate the big and small decisions in our lives. And to extend the metaphor that “What If?” provides, it opens up an invitation to really surrender everything to God.
God doesn’t guarantee that every step or endeavour of ours will be successful. At times, there may be failure that is permitted. But if we never make that first move, we will never know what the outcome could be. Fry sings, “What if I fall? But what if I fly?” And further in the song, Fry even questions falling as a necessary part of going through life: “So what if I fall / Straight out of the sky? / Would I rather look back and wonder / Or know that I actually tried?”
Even after we’ve discerned, prayed, and sought counsel from those who are more spiritually mature, we still run the risk of falling. And I think that it’s natural to feel afraid when making a big move. But perhaps that really is an indicator that the fear “means [we’re] alive.”
But greater than that, it means that this really is a decision worth grappling over—and it’s an invitation to surrender more fully to Him.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)
I humbly ask you to pray for me as I navigate and listen to where the Lord is calling me next. Please know that I am praying for you, too!
In Jesus Master,