Album Review – The Undoing (Steffany Gretzinger)

I don’t usually review albums on this blog, and I probably never will again. I’m making an exception, because this album is truly exceptional. It’s one of the most amazing sets of songs I’ve ever heard, actually.  Enormous thanks to the people who pointed me toward it, if they ever end up reading this…you know who you are.  And as a caveat, in case anyone was wondering, I don’t get anything for condoning this music. If you go out and buy it because of what I wrote here, I don’t get a penny. This is all purely my real, heartfelt opinion. The artist doesn’t know me from Adam and she likely never will, which is bizarre to think about because artists put their work out to be experienced by the masses. I hear her heart shine through in every song I have the privilege of listening to. I have a deep appreciation and love for this lady, yet I’ve never met her, and maybe never will. I plan to write her a thank you letter for the beauty of this music that she chose to share and not keep, but I’m sure it will simply blend in with the thousands of other letters she probably gets on a weekly basis. Anyway, I digress.

The funny thing is, coincidentally, I had the idea a few weeks ago when I was in a pretty good place, to sit down with my guitar and try to write some songs specifically for my little people.  Songs that spoke to them and made them feel seen and valued and understood. In daily life, they get neglected a lot – not intentionally, but things just shake down that way. Even in ministry sessions – where they definitely do not get neglected, they oftentimes have a very difficult time understanding what’s being asked, or describing what they feel or see. They just don’t have words, and it’s neither their fault nor the fault of the ministers, but they usually leave sessions feeling confused or unfulfilled in the sense that they could not get out what they needed to, by virtue of a sort of emotional aphasia. At any rate, I just felt like they needed something they weren’t getting, with no blame attached to anyone about that (or if anyone should be blamed, it should definitely fall to me since I’m in charge).

Music speaks to a lot of my little people when they can’t understand big words or concepts brought up by adults. Music comes from a place of emotion and spirit, and even if they’re not old enough to understand or answer questions in a ministry session, they CAN catch the spirit and/or emotion of a song. The primary problems with my songwriting idea were: 1) I don’t have the skill; 2) I don’t have the time, 3) I don’t know what, specifically to say to them, and 4) I don’t have the skill.  😉  I can really only write things that I own, whether we’re talking about music or words of wisdom or whatever, and generally on this blog I don’t try to tell people to do or know things I don’t do or know (or am at least attempting and making progress in) because that would be hypocritical, and I have no place to do that. So the state of still being unhealed in those areas thereby made it impossible for me to even know what my little people needed to hear, erego: failure and frustration. I quickly realized that no matter how good of an idea it might be, I had to let it go.

Only a few weeks later…enter this album. Enter my gratitude for a God who knows where every person is, emotionally, at the same time, and where they will be at any given moment – even people who don’t know each other, like me and this artist (who surely didn’t write it for me), even people who will have vastly different perspectives on the same piece of art but who will nevertheless be touched by his Spirit in exactly the profound way they need at that moment in time.

I have healed, since I’ve been listening to this. So have others on the inside. I don’t mean “healed” as in, healed to completion. But I do mean that we are now different and better than we were before we listened to it. This is not because of the music itself, but because of the way this music enables me to experience God.

You guys, I’m actually a little scared to even comment on it. I’m afraid my commentary won’t do it justice, and thus cheapen it.  Or maybe it’s only affecting me so profoundly because of the specific place I’m in, with healing. I don’t know. I just know I am not the same now. And if it will help anyone else even a little bit, I don’t mind writing about it, even knowing I cannot do it justice.  So here goes…

 

The Undoing – Steffany Gretzinger

This album is one of the few albums in my lifetime about which I can honestly say I love every single song. I love some more than others, but there aren’t any that I dislike even the slightest bit. There aren’t any that DON’T touch me at my very core, in some way.  What songs mean to individuals will change over time, as with any piece of art. They evolve with us. But this album, by and large, speaks attachment language, infused with the Holy Spirit, which delivers a double blessing of pure healing amazing-ness for people like me who desperately need both. If you’ve been following my blog at all, or if you just haven’t noticed, attachment is a big deal. It’s a big deal for those with D.I.D., especially, but it’s also just a big deal, period. Everything in life stems from attachment, those early blueprints our tiny blurry minds create out of early experiences with caregivers.

I can only speak for myself, but my experience with this album is that it speaks past every barrier, every fear, every obstacle in my heart, and carefully, respectfully draws them to the side the way you would draw back a curtain.  Acknowledging that those things are there, but bypassing them and allowing me to set them aside. Over and over and over, the songs, the words, the combination of voice and emotion and Spirit being conveyed have a way of gently taking my hand, leading me up to the real person of Jesus (not the one I’ve been conditioned to think He is), and joyfully placing my hand into His, and just leaving me there – the only place I’ll ever need to be.

I cannot explain this.  It’s supernatural. And like the title, it is an undoing.

It is an undoing of lies, emptiness, hopelessness, neglect, abandonment, rejection, primal screams of pain cried out into an eternal night that at times has never seemed to lift. It is an undoing of false fronts, protective layers of apathy and anger, shame, fears, broken promises, shattered dreams and double binds.  It is an undoing of everything I thought God wasn’t and was and isn’t and is and should be and wouldn’t dare to be and ought not to be.

This is a beautiful devastation, my friends.

If you want a breakdown, I have included my thoughts about each song in particular, which will probably be different next week, and the week after that, and so on. I’m only going to write about it once, but I’m sure the experience of them will keep growing and expanding with time. If you want to just go and experience each one for yourself, there’s no need to keep reading any further. I have a talent for rambling on a keyboard, but my opinion is not what matters. I hope that through this music you are able to experience some needed healing, as well. Cheers. ~J8

 

 

Morning Song  

Just to be real with you, I was reluctant to listen to this one at first. Folks, I am not a morning person. Most music I’ve sampled that has anything in name to do with morning is peppy and irritating and kind of makes me just want to throw my foster cat at it (I was going to say coffee, but I want to keep that). I feared this song might be the same, and I didn’t want to dislike it. But now, I’m so glad I gave it a chance. It is uplifting, but it’s not jarring or annoying. It’s the perfect balance of gentle but enticing. The words and spirit of the song provide what I’m lacking on most days: the reason for getting up. The motivation for being alive. You guys, it’s love. You are loved. More deeply and more profoundly and more happily and more crazily and more compassionately and more adventurously than you know. This is the reason for waking up. It’s the only one. This could quite potentially turn me into a morning person.

Constant One

One thing a person with an inconsistent or absent attachment figure needs is to know they can depend on someone, anyone. That they matter enough for someone to care, and to care all the time – not just when it’s convenient or beneficial to the caregiver. From the opening line of the song (In the moment I am hiding, Your love it seeks me out; and you hold me and you know me from the inside out), to the chorus, to the rest of the song in its entirety, it reinforces the dependability of a Father who not only loves them but notices them.

The bridge There is no place that I could run that You won’t chase me down, You won’t chase me down; there is no place that I could hide that I will not be found, I will not be found takes me back to my own childhood. I remember feeling compelled to do a bizarre little litmus test over and over again throughout the course of the week; periodically, I would hide from everybody. I didn’t go to extreme efforts but I would simply walk out of the house and cross to the back corner of the yard and curl up on a pile of leaves. Or I would go to the end of the street (our boundary at that age) and sit down on the curb with my feet in the road.  Or I’d go some other fairly innocuous place. I could not have articulated it at the time, but now that I look back, I realize that I was doing it purely to see if anyone noticed I was gone, to see if it mattered enough for someone to come looking for me. Rarely did anyone notice, and rarely did anyone come looking. But if they did, it was out of annoyance and it was driven by my failure to perform some task that was solely allotted to me, so they were searching for me to call me to task. This song puts all that to rest.  My real Father knows when I am missing and just wants to be with me. That’s all.

Out of Hiding (Father’s Song)

The end of this song gets me every time. It’s the passionate encouragement of a daddy who wants his kids to be with him. Give it a listen.  As a protector, as a guardian, I have never been called “baby” in my entire life – at least not in a loving way – and I’m honestly not sure I’d allow it. I am not a baby. I do not like names (even nicknames) that indicate anything but the strength in me, because anything less makes me feel like I’m being looked at as a target. But from my Father, my Papa, I feel like I can relinquish my strength (which is just a smoke screen for brokenness, anyway) and be his baby. I can tell you that even writing that sentence feels scandalous. But true.

I Spoke Up

This short little gem is something anyone can understand. Even though I don’t relate to the people-pleaser mentality, I love the realness and rawness of the singer sharing her experience. I love the honest, no-pretenses sigh of relief at the end, “The pressure’s all off now.”

Cecie’s Lullaby

I saved this song for last when I was writing this post, because there are things I still struggle to put into words. There’s also the fact that, despite how my blog makes me look and sound, I’m actually a pretty private person. If I know you, if I like you, if I feel the chances of you intentionally gutting me are reasonably slim, I might tell you what I really think and what really goes on in my life on occasion. This blog is deceptive because I don’t actually see most of the people who read it, in real life. So I don’t have to deal with the awkwardness of knowing that you know what’s inside me, so I say things on here that I wouldn’t tell you in person. Nevertheless, the reason I do it is because if there’s anything I can do to give people an advantage in their process by sharing things I’ve been learning, sympathize with those who have been through things most people can’t relate to, or simply let people know they’re not alone in their experience, I’m willing to do it. And the internet gives me the chance.  So I’m not sure I could tell you what this song means to me, because it’s too close to my heart and too hard to describe in words, and I’m not sure if I would want to, but it’s my current favorite on the album (along with probably all the other people who have now heard it). Go listen to it. Let it work its magic on you and then a fumbling description from me won’t even be necessary.

Letting Go

The beauty of the musical compositions in this album are like a cold drink of pure water on a hot day, for me. This song – like all the others – is just so beautiful. I’m not much of a musician; I can’t tell you every instrument or technique or style they used and how or why, but I know the acoustics and the vocals on this song are soothing and life-giving to me. Again, the artist’s willingness to be real about her experience (I confess I still get scared sometimes, but perfect love comes rushing in, and all the lies that scream inside go silent, the moment you begin) trumps any song on any day that tries to pretend the writer has her shit together. I always experience the sense of being completely and utterly wrapped in love, by the time this song ends. Exquisite.

Promise I Always Will

Can you remember what life was like when you were a very little kid?  I mean before life came in and screwed up your perspective?  Can you remember a time when you weren’t automatically afraid? Can you remember anticipating good rather than harm? Can you remember believing in magic? Can you remember a time when hoping was as natural as breathing? This song will take you there.

Steady Heart

The bigness of God is not something I often think about. Sometimes I have the sudden realization that I’m pretty much a near-sighted runner in a long distance race. I literally cannot see the forest for the trees, and I’m so consumed with the little day-to-day crises that I cannot comprehend the faithfulness of the One who has carried me for a lifetime. He sustained me from the very beginning, and has ever since then, but yet I’m always terrified he’s forgotten or isn’t concerned about me anymore. I’m always stressing and obsessing over whether he still notices, still cares, still plans to intervene, still has any interest in me at all. This is disorganized attachment; the belief that 1) I am intrinsically bad/not worth caring for, and 2) others are bad/hurtful/neglectful (or at least unpredictable over time). Steady Heart gives me an experience of the trust-ability of my Father. And the rhythm in it is kinda cool, too, slightly reminiscent of a heartbeat.

No Fear in Love

This is one of my favorites at the moment. The thing is, fear is an all-pervasive feeling for me. It’s there even when I’m not aware of it being there. And with people who are profoundly broken, especially by SRA but even those who have in any way encountered a misrepresentation of Jesus (and who hasn’t??), you can’t just tell them not to be afraid. You have to show them Someone who isn’t scary. My prayer ministers do an amazing job at this, but as they tell me regularly, they are still not him. This song introduces me to Someone who isn’t scary. Someone whose love is so big, so much, so complete, I don’t have to be afraid of him. Ever. No, really.  Not ever.

Open Up Let The Light In

Another jewel that just carries such a tremendous impact with so little raw material. This is purely God. There’s only one line and I’ll bet you can guess what it is: Open up, let the light in.  I can’t really even describe this song or its effect on me other than it actually makes me want to be vulnerable. Maybe only to Him, at this point, but that’s really the best and only place needed, to start with.

Getting There

Such a forward-moving place to end. This song is such an encouragement that God will complete what He has started. As a protector, as a guardian, I generally never rest. I never cease my hypervigilance. I never leave my post. I never stop calculating my counter move based on everything going on around me. I never assume safety. I never let go of the responsibility to keep my shield close, my sword in my hand, my eyes to the horizon.  But this song, for the first time in my remembered history, really just ignites a desire inside me to permanently throw down my weapons and fling myself at Jesus. I can’t really put into words anything further.

 

 

P.S. One more note: the priceless value of this album is the ability to experience the real Jesus through it.  I am not glorifying the artist or the music itself, although I am exceedingly grateful to both of those elements for introducing me (once again) to the real God, the real Father, that I’ve been missing for so long. That is the real treasure, and that is why I chose to share it in case anyone else may perhaps be able to experience the same thing.


1 thought on “Album Review – The Undoing (Steffany Gretzinger)”

  • 1
    Kele on November 14, 2016 Reply

    I only came across this album this year. I can honestly say that it has changed my perception of who God is. The world draws Him as an angry God and as though He is always ready to condemn us. This album opened my eyes to the love,gentleness,forgiveness,restoration and grace that God carries us in.

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