Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
I love the band, U2.
Their music has been a constant companion for three decades. However, their album Joshua Tree is one of the soundtracks of my life -- moving to another city...another country...losing friends...finding new ones...finding love...having babies...growing up....changing...always changing.
The music in this album has an innate rhythm, a measured step as if the songs and artists themselves are walking/running/journeying towards a destination not entirely known. As a thirteen-year-old on the brink of becoming, I had never heard anything like it. From the ringing guitars, to the driving bass to Bono's passionate pleadings...I was hooked.
It sounds dramatic to say that I felt it in my soul, but I did.
Over the years, I have also admired Bono (and the band) for his passion for truth, justice and grace for all people. It would have been easy to just be rock stars, collect accolades, tour the world and revel in their money and success. Yet, they have been constantly on a quest for meaning and purpose.
And whether thirteen or forty-three, I can identify with that.
I found U2 when I lived in the actual desert -- actually not too far from the actual Joshua Tree National Park. Living there provided another connection to the desert imagery. And although I have long since left that desert town, I think perhaps the desert has never left me.
So many of the songs from Joshua Tree can transport me right back to the summer I first heard them. With or Without You is still one of my all-time favorites.
However, I don't know that I have ever been able to put my finger on why I Still Haven't Found I'm Looking For has been an enduring anthem for me. There is an underlying ache, a plea for understanding and meaning and yet fervent Hope that there is indeed more than what is known.
The first time my father heard this song, we were driving back home from L.A. I had control of the music and decided to play him one of my favorites. His comment was, "it's such a sad statement."
I think he was hearing the spiritual themes in the lyrics and noting that nonetheless, that something looked for was not found. Through the lens of Christianity, it can feel like perhaps what the Church offers, even what God offers, is not enough. And I can see how that could be sad.
And I will admit that a lot of me saw it from that perspective then and for many years. However, this last year has been so earth-shaking for me in so many ways. I feel like it has been days and months of drilling down into the very core of me and has cracked the foundation I have built so much of my own faith and belief upon.
The cracks and holes are catastrophic. That foundation will no longer hold.
That's a story for another day.
But what is has meant is that Jesus and I have been laying a new foundation. And this one is a lot more modest. It's not as self-assured or concrete. I have undergone a vast un-learning and re-teaching.
And so now I come to this song differently.
I now understand that Faith is so much more nuanced than I ever understood. Our faith journeys ebb and flow, meander and get stopped up in debris and flotsam. It's the nature of Faith and it's the grace of God to challenge what we are sure we know about Him and what it means to follow Him.
In spite of the quaking, I'm profoundly grateful.
Because the truth is that all these years into this life and on this journey of Faith, I can say that I still haven't found what I'm looking for. And I'm pretty sure on this side of heaven, I never will.
The part of my soul that seeks completion and perfect belonging won't be completely satisfied until I cross over.
Rather than this notion being sad, I find it very liberating. Life can be a never-ceasing quest for truth, beauty, meaning, purpose, love, acceptance, belonging and more. I would actually argue that this is the definition of fully embracing life -- of fully LIVING.
This is some of what I was mentally chewing on when I saw the band in concert on a Saturday night last May at the Rose Bowl. For me, it was the fulfillment of a thirty-year bucket list item. It was amazing and everything I hoped it would be.
|Playing my favorite song....|
When they started playing this song that May evening, I just let everything go in that moment. It felt like a holy moment. I felt like I was in church. I actually lifted my hands like I was in church. And I wasn't the only one.
A few days after the concert, I saw a clip from U2 on the Jimmy Kimmel Show that made me cry and understand a bit more why raising my hands in an act of surrender felt like the right thing to do. When Bono introduced this song, he said something that struck me so deeply. (Start at 2:00 minutes in to skip the chit chat if you want.)
"We want to play for you now a gospel song...a gospel song with a restless spirit."
A gospel song. That's what it feels like. And yes, it's a gospel song with a restless spirit. Not fully at home here on this spinning orb, but not ready to leave. The tension in that is real. And although it can feel sad in some ways to own the description "restless" and all that it implies, it still feels like the most honest.
There are some things that will not be satisfied in this lifetime. But that's okay, really. It's the never-ceasing quest to know more and understand more. There is so much value and joy in this "restless" journey to last a lifetime.