Derek Webb’s “Fingers Crossed”

Reflections on two (3) divorces

I have been a fan and follower of the work of Derek Webb since he was a member of the Contemporary Christian group Caedmon’s Call.

I remember fondly the controversy among my friends and acquaintances when his first solo album, She Must and Shall Go Free, was released. Myself and others would debate for hours about whether or not he was “too Calvinist”.

I got married and continued to follow his work and was amazed at his lyric writing and his ability to blend spirituality and politics into a seamlessly connected thing and yet still keep them distinct from each other.

When my marriage and world crumbled, it was his albums Mockingbird and Stockholm Syndrome that got me through.

And as I struggled through bouts of depression, over-consumption of alcohol, and a second failed relationship, his music kept me somewhat grounded.

In the midst of it all, I felt like he and I shared a story. He went through a divorce. Struggled with the realities of that new world. Failed and yet continued to attempt to hold on to a god that did not seem to actually be there anymore. And came out on the other side bruised, battered, and somehow kinda okay.

My life has been in a sort of tailspin for years. I have attempted to remain open to the possibility that there is something more out there for me than simply living in some kind of limbo. And holding onto that hope has led me to the place I am now.

For once in a very long time, I am happy.

I am with someone whose level of weird matches mine.

I do not drink as much.

And Derek Webb’s music still continues to resonate at a deep level.

And never has this been more true than with his latest album, Fingers Crossed.

He refers to it as a “tale of two divorces. vertical and horizontal.” And I have been there. In a very real way. Because when human relationships fail, it can very easily cause a breakdown in one’s relationship with the divine.

With his sometimes haunting vocals, and subtle musicality, he makes real what it is like to go through some of the darkest and hardest moments of a person’s life.

And yet he still manages to hold out hope.

For me, the song that ripped into me the deepest, was Chasing Empty Mangers. Not only does it capture the desolate feeling of the darkest points in my life, but it also captures the physical realities as I saw it.

“while daddy’s getting drunk
the peanuts kids are dancing
there’s no star atop the tree tonight
’cause i’m taking what you give
the baby god returning
bringing peace to every house but mine…”

Alone and drunk and seeing the world in the worst possible light imaginable.

Like the Messiah himself, feeling as though even the Creator of all things has turned His back.

Yet, all the while, as raw emotion pours from the speakers, as I sit and listen, I feel a deep sense of motivation. I never wanted my life to stay in the dark. And I refused to allow it to do so.

Which is the beauty of Fingers Crossed as well. He takes his pain and offers the chance at redemption.

“so i am redeeming this guitar
though i am wishing on a star
in every moment of my grief choosing you…”

Because there is always a chance to redeem even our darkest moments and turn them into something beautiful.

Thank you, Mr. Webb.

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