A Cold and Broken Hallelujah (a post about passion)

Pentatonix recently released a beautiful remake of the haunting Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah, and it’s been in heavy rotation on my playlist ever since.

I’ve been mulling over the lyrics of this song, how love can become such a cold and broken hallelujah for some of us.

Not a victory march, not at all, not even close. Not a bright light or a deep cry. Just a cold and broken hallelujah, a horrible emptiness that can seep into any relationship: marriage, family, friends, church or the world as a whole.

Love can feel far from victorious.

I’m not sure we fully understand needs and wants and what causes them, so we aren’t always able to clearly communicate with others the longings we so desperately crave.

Some things are simply better left unsaid, more easily stored away in the sacred space between you and God.

But sometimes that sacred space feels so wide that even God seems unreachable.

And not to sound like a hippie, but I truly believe when we lose our connection to the Energy-maker, we lose our connection to our own soul. If we lose the connection to our own soul, we can’t possibly connect to others in a meaningful way.

We grow afraid. We grow bitter.

Bitterness turns into disillusionment, and then we are empty. Depleted. Dry.

This is especially true within a marriage. Each of us gets busy in our own way, either climbing the corporate ladder, or laboring grueling hours for little pay. Cleaning house, or working on the family car. Paying bills, or cooking meals. 

Harder problems deplete us, like cancer or financial struggles, family issues.

Raising kids. That’s a big energy-zapper, and today’s ridiculous ideas about parenting will burn every ounce of life out of you.

We crawl into that space to disappear from those people and things that steal our energy, while desperately trying to find our source of joy, our passion, once again.

I looked up the definition recently. There are over five different meanings for passion, ranging from feelings of euphoria, to feelings of deep and abiding appreciation for something or someone.

What were you once passionate about?

Or a better question: What has stolen your passion?

As a little girl, I was passionate about Jesus. I fell for him when I visited St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Clarksdale with my grandmother. The Crucifix that hung on the wall told a story: Someone felt enough passion to die for me. I believed that.

I believed it when my very first Sunday school teacher at a little Baptist church in New Orleans handed me a paper cup full of juice, and a couple of Oreos. I was a shy and scared little introvert who hated meeting new people, but that sweet woman put her arms around me and taught me the words to Jesus Loves Me. And I believed He did.

I was passionate about dancing, about family, about one day being a mom, a wife, a creator of a home.

But the world will wear you down, and trust me, it wore me down in ways I haven’t yet recovered.

It wore me down so thin that my pain, my selfish wants and needs, wore others down as well.

The world and all its trials can break you so much that you have to switch to autopilot just to make it through a day.

I wonder how many of us are not only walking in that wide and foggy space where we can’t reach God, but also coasting on autopilot, questioning nothing about this world but simply going through the motions, even actions we know are damaging us—our eating and drinking habits, our viewing material, our time wasted, words said without thinking—all because we have lost our passion, our desire to speak, live and think intentionally.

Sadly, it often takes a tragedy of some sort to pull us out of that space. 

Or a compromise of what we had once believed so strongly.

Our passion is reignited by an affair, or the realization that we’re in the wrong marriage, or living the wrong life, working the wrong career, attending the wrong church, or residing in the wrong space or town.

What can be so tragic is that oftentimes we don’t realize this until it’s too late. We may find our passion again, but not without wracking up a casualty or ten, be it self-condemnation, a broken marriage, a quit job, a sudden end to a friendship, hurt children.

What takes even more fortitude is choosing not to act on our passion. We choose to put first our marriage, our children, our commitment to our job, our obedience to what we believe.

In this case, we have to die. We have to kill our passion.

Maybe none of these problems belong to you.

Maybe you’ve lived the good life, or you’re just fine coasting on autopilot.

But for those of you us who are living the cold and broken hallelujah, take heart.

God’s love is nowhere near cold or broken.

His passion isn’t just passion. It’s compassion:

a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it (Webster’s)

Whereas our passion is almost always self-serving, we have a Creator who loved us before we loved Him.

And though He doesn’t promise that our life, our choices, our love will always be victorious, His love always is.

It was once and for all, and nothing we do or fail to do will ever change that.

Writing on a public blog isn’t always easy. I don’t do it for likes or attention. I don’t do it to come off holier than thou because most of you reading this blog know I couldn’t sound holy if I tried.

I do it because I’m compelled to. I do it because I’m hoping that maybe my thorns won’t become your thorns.

But sharing is hard. For every one post I publish, there are twenty that never see the light of day.

This was one of those twenty.

I didn’t want to admit that a shy and scared little introvert who writes about God, often finds herself in that deep and wide space that feels so far away from Him, so far away from others, even at times, my husband and children.

I didn’t want to admit that love for me can feel like a cold and broken hallelujah. That waking up every morning and fighting against the ugly thoughts inside me, or wrestling with needs and longings I may never be granted this side of Heaven, is sometimes so hard I hit my knees and stay there the better part of the day.

Yesterday was that kind of day. I blame it on being overly tired and having one too many thoughts swimming inside my foggy brain. But I was irritable, hurt and angry at a broken world and broken people, myself included.

Days like that, I’ll often literally cry out to God. I mean scream. Rail against the unfairness of humanity, blame Him for all of my sins.

Like the whisperer He is, He’ll lead me to some passage, sign or person, and use them to speak to me.

Yesterday He led me straight to Ezekiel 37 and the story of the dry bones.

Lifeless, chalky, dried up nothing.


God asked Ezekiel if Ezekiel believed God could bring life back to those bones.

You alone know the answer to that, Ezekiel answered Him.

And God said that of course He could.

But even better (and harder to believe), God said He would, and in chapter 39, added,

I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel…They will forget their shame…I will no longer hide my face from them… (25-29, bold mine)

I woke up this morning believing that like me, someone needed to hear this.

Maybe that someone was you. 🙂

songlyrics.net via pinterest

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