I can hardly mention this woman’s name without choking up. Simply, Christa Wells is a heart sister. Over the last decade, God has written the most exquisite music through her surrendered life — and her co-laboring with God has changed countless of our stories with her songs. Her songs are holy. Her heart is His. Her refrain is hope. I couldn’t love her more and her music has revived me time and again — more on that soon. It’s a hushing, humbling grace to invite one of my most favorite people of all time to the farm’s front porch.
“I’d been paying attention for years.
I’d paid attention when my friend, Vaneetha, who had survived the loss of her baby boy, told me what she’d seen of God in the blackness of loss. How joy did return…eventually.
I’d listened as Patty talked about her John, whose brief battle with cancer left her alone in a lake of grief with their three young daughters.
All around me were people who’d had more than their share of trouble, and I had absorbed their stories and written a few songs that attempted to frame their experience of grief and God and hope and healing.
I’d become acquainted with the language of loss and redemption, but I hadn’t really been asked to practice it.
My marriage to my college sweetheart was a treasure I took for granted in the best kind of way until it was suddenly and excruciatingly gone after more than two decades of togetherness. I felt I might curl up and die. Or at least get in bed and never get up again.
There was the Thursday I lay in the bathtub and let the water grow cold while I stared dead-eyed at the ceiling and thought of all the anticipated moments that had evaporated from my future, just like that.
Months before that cold-water day, I sat on our old couch reading our friend’s Ann’s book, The Broken Way. and in it the tender conversation she’d had with her broken-hearted mama.
Ann had recalled to her the truth carried in the story of The Velveteen Rabbit: that we are made more Real and Alive precisely because of the birthing and burying, mistakes and amends, staying and loving.
We are not failures, not un-beautiful, not unworthy, after all.
The truth is that loving somebody, anybody, makes you vulnerable, and with enough loving, you get worn out, at least on the outside. That’s when the eternal within has a chance to step forward.
Ann’s words resonated profoundly and allowed me to hope that in spite of how bleak my life and future looked, something good might yet be born.
Truthfully, even in my sadness and fear, I sensed an awakening and an awareness of the real God being really with me.
I could no longer envision a future for myself or my family, but I could see the present moment keenly.
“If my beauty starts to fade
Well, I’ve been held in a thousand ways.
If my heart looks broken in,
Then I’ve been brave enough to live.
If perfect turns to perfect mess,
And all Your love is all that’s left
Then I’m as real as real can be,
Call me Velveteen”
I would have been content to keep things as they were. A husband and wife under one roof. A down-the-road 50th wedding anniversary with our five kids and future grandkids and stories of our shared youth.
If I could have kept these things for myself, I would have.
I didn’t ask God to bring something hard so that I could grow. I am not that brave.
Becoming more and more Alive, more and more the Beloved of God, I am…
Christa Wells is an American singer-songwriter based in Nashville, Tennessee, with over 15 years experience in the music industry.
As an indie artist, Christa has released five albums, developing a signature alternative-pop sound that is fresh, soulful, and enduring. Her latest project,Velveteen (April 2018) chronicles her own journey through suffering, singing relentless hope across the wide spaces of loss.
An award-winning songwriter, Christa has also collaborated with other Nashville artists to write hit songs such as “Held” (Natalie Grant), “Need You Now” + “God Help Me” (Plumb), and “Red Sea Road” (Ellie Holcomb.
This album, Velveteen, is on daily repeat here, the Farmer playing it in the truck — more soon on the song he has on repeat — and I just, honestly, am on done by the whole album, but One Day is a literal life line … Velveteen is one of our absolute favorite listens.