I sometimes feel hesitant when sharing music I love online because much of the music I listen to means a lot to me and I don’t want it to feel less special when sharing. It’s also about feeling understood.
A lot of the music I love has deep meaning and connection for me so I don’t always like sharing something publicly if only some will read the lyrics or even go listen to the song. But I still do share because even if others don’t read, listen or understand, sharing it is like making a statement of “this song matters to me”, and that resonates. I love poetry, too, but music really gets me in a way not many mediums do. Reading something meaningful is one thing, listening to it is another. It’s always been a coping skill for me, too. When I listen to music with great meaning, it’s cathartic; I feel heard and understood.
I wanted to share this song I heard last week for the first time that really validated me. It’s called “Freedom Hymn” by Austin French.
I heard his song “Born Again” last year on K-Love, and instantly loved it. The music video is very powerful too.
“I push, I pull, go back and forth finding myself
Pounding on a locked door
I try to make it out alone without Your help
But I know I’ll never win this war”
This first verse of “Freedom Hymn” resonates with the time I was experiencing manic episodes last year. The imagery of “pounding on a locked door” resonates because during a manic episode I was wandering around a neighborhood I didn’t know looking for help – from what, I don’t know. I wasn’t pounding on doors, but that feeling of desperation is fitting with feeling both lost and trapped in my mind. I absolutely needed to be in the hospital because I was putting myself in potentially dangerous situations and no one was making sure I was safe. That’s a confusing and upsetting time to look back on because I didn’t know what I was doing but my mind had made up that I needed to do x and it was like I was taking advice from and listening to thoughts that didn’t belong to me. I simply wasn’t in the right frame of mind.
Feeling like I’ll “never win this war” fits in my story with how I never would have won it without my strength and willingness, loved ones, therapist and psychiatrist, and God. To win, I had to hit rock bottom, and then slowly rebuild so I could become the person I’m meant to be.
The pre-chorus fits my story well, too: “I can never be, never be free without You
I can never be, never be me without You”
In the song, Austin French is saying he cannot be free or himself without God. In exploring my own faith I can relate to feeling like I’m only fully me with my faith; it’s a part of me. I also relate this to how I’m not fully me without my friends and family; I am who I am but they also make me who I am. This gives me comfort because I know both God and my loved ones are on my side. I can stand on my own, but I’d rather stand with an army. I want to be known for being a good friend and daughter and sister. Just as I want to be known for being brave and strong, I also want to be known for being uplifted by supportive people. They’re a part of my story and part of why I’m standing stronger today.
In the second verse Austin French sings:
“The past is gone, what’s done is done, now I’m alive
And I’m never gonna look back”
To me, being alive is the greatest gift after everything I’ve been through. While I actively try to remember my past to learn and grow from it, I also see it as something I can let go of in some ways because I no longer have to torture myself over it. I’m allowed to let go of a time I couldn’t control myself or the circumstances. I can embrace now.
The chorus of this song really gets me:
“This is the sound of chains breaking
This is the beat of a heart changing
This is a song of a soul forgiven
This is my freedom hymn
This is my freedom hymn, my freedom hymn
This is my freedom hymn, my freedom hymn”
It’s lyrics I’ve wanted to caption along with a photo of myself on Instagram ever since I discovered this song, but I actually wanted to explore the lyrics a bit more and explain how much it means to me.
The chorus fits in my life when I discharged the hospital to the time I started feeling better taking medications and going to therapy for Bipolar Disorder. I felt locked in my own mind during those manic episodes. I didn’t know myself during that time. So, being free of the illness really means something monumental to me; it’s worth celebrating.
To Austin French, this song is about his relationship with God. It’s the same for me, as well as the struggle and freedom I experienced with Bipolar Disorder. In the chorus, you can hear the power in his voice. To me, it’s that declaration that I’m finally free from a past life that was painful, lonely and hitting rock bottom.
There is also so much power in declaring “This is my freedom hymn”; to me, it’s saying that other people may find their own ways to cope or find meaning in life, but this is my way and I’m proud of that.
“This is a song of a soul forgiven” is very real to me. I once felt defined by past mistakes, trapped in past trauma, and unsure of what to make of the manic episodes. I know now that while not every person will forgive me for past mistakes or how I acted during manic episodes, I’ve done the most powerful thing: I have forgiven myself.