One of my most formative experiences as a kid and a teenager was being part of church choir. It was where I learned to play guitar, sing with all my heart, and where I learned about the hidden power of love songs.
I grew up Catholic and as a kid, I didn’t question my faith. I had a loving family, a cordial community and good friends—it was easy to see God in the good. But my love for God found its expression through my love for music.
My eighth grade teacher ran our school church choir and I played with her at another church on Sunday morning. She was the first one that taught me how to play guitar and for me, the best person to learn from. When she played guitar and led the choir, you could tell she was singing and playing as her whole self. You could see the Sunday congregation spiritually move, something that felt uncommon in the other Catholic services I had been part of. I loved playing with her the most because of that and I felt the most connected to God when I played like that too.
One time, we were driving to play at a church-related event and she told me about a special memory she had with “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. She told me about how she had a friend explain to her that she thought this song was actually a worship song, not a creepy stalker song. “Hmm, that’s interesting,” I thought. “I never thought of it like that.”
My eighth grade teacher introduced me to my guitar teacher who gave me free lessons and who I ended up playing with throughout high school. I played at Saturday night church with him, his songbird wife, and violin-virtuoso twin brother. While packing up our equipment after church one night, we had a similar conversation. “You know, when you really think about it, worship songs are love songs and love songs are worship songs,” he said. I had a eureka moment.
Now, I had a tough time with love and romance in high school and it left me really jaded. I felt the most disconnected from my faith then and I didn’t feel like myself at all. By the time I got to college, I was determined to return to my faith and to the person I know I am.
The lovely friends I met through Image Bible Study encouraged my pursuit of faith in Jesus in so many ways, especially through worship music. But the memories of being in church choir with my guitar teachers reminded me that there were new and very personal ways for me to uniquely connect with the Lord.
It was then that I started curating a playlist I titled “Conversations with God.” I basically turned into the friend that my eighth grade teacher had described years ago. Out of the many playlists I have, this one is the most personal and the one I run to when I really feel low. Over the years, I’ve included songs that detail my frustrations with myself, the songs that yearn for someone, and songs that talk about a eureka moment about love—all to remind myself about the one that created love.
Other than love from my family, I can’t say I truly understand love between people because it’s fickle. I can’t say I’ve ever been in love with anybody and if I’m honest, knowing how fallible people are, I’m really scared about falling in love with someone. Lately, I’ve been acting like I’m too cool for it; a total contrast from the starry-eyed dreamer that I was as a teenager. Trying to develop a healthy attitude about it all is something I’m working through and it’s really hard. But, I’ve learned what love is through my faith and I want it to be defined from that place only.
For the last 5 days, I’ve been reading a devotional about 1 Corinthians 13, aka the chapter of the Bible that everyone and their mother uses at their weddings (can you taste my disillusionment here? lol). The biggest takeaway from it is the reminder that amidst whatever I’m going through and whatever is going on in the world, there’s a loving God walking alongside me and everyone around me.
Ever since I made the commitment to return to my faith, I don’t feel the general sense of loneliness I used to feel because of how I think of my relationship with God. I operate out of joy as a default in response to the love I know exists. You can see it when I’m singing and dancing to love songs. If there’s one person that I think deserves all my love songs, it’s God. So this Valentine’s Day, as with everyday of my life, my focus is on the Lord and the love story He’s painted for not just me, but all people.
This playlist is a selection of some of my favorite love songs recently. They’re directly from my “Conversations with God” playlist which is like 300+ songs long. I’ll do another playlist when I feel inspired to share more about my faith, but for now, take this playlist: at the very least as a selection of really wonderful love songs and at most, the starting point for your own collection of love songs to the Lord around us all. Happy Valentine’s Day ♥