The 90s-early 2000’s were my jam. I was a musician playing clubs and I connected with many of the artists and their music. Today, many of the lead singers of these bands are no longer with us. Lane Staley, Scott Weiland, Chris Cornell, and the one that hit the hardest for me – Chester Bennington of Linkin Park.
I identified strongly with the music of LP and Chester’s raw cutting lyrics – not because I was performing them, but because I was living them. Hybrid Theory came out in 2000 and Meteora came out in 2003. I had them both on CD and ripped them to my first generation iPod [remember the one with the wheel?!] and listened to them continuously. In my office, at the gym, in my car. I knew every word. I felt Chester’s pain because he was transparent and vulnerable to let it out.
It was a time of deep personal and spiritual struggle for me. I was coming out of a decade of self-destructive, self-centered, sin-soaked behavior and I was angry about it. Angry about the things I’ve done, that I can’t get back the years lost, and that how I couldn’t get past any of it. Life. Was. Hard. Here…take a sample…
Crawling in my skin, These wounds they will not heal
Fear is how I fall, Confusing what is real. [“Crawling” – Hybrid Theory]
I wanna run away, Never say goodbye
I wanna know the truth, Instead of wondering why
I wanna know the answers, No more lies
I wanna shut the door, And open up my mind [“Runaway” – Hybrid Theory]
“Don’t Stay” – Meteora…pretty much the whole thing. Yeah. Great angry song.
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along –
Somewhere I belong [“Somewhere I Belong” – Meteora]
It’s easier to run, replacing this pain with something numb
It’s so much easier to go, Than face all this pain here all alone
Something has been taken from deep inside of me
A secret I’ve kept locked away no one can ever see
Wounds so deep they never show, they never go away
Like moving pictures in my head, for years and years they’ve played
If I could change, I would, take back the pain, I would
Retrace every wrong move that I made, I would
If I could stand up and take the blame, I would
If I could take all the shame to the grave, I would [“Easier to Run” – Meteora]
You get the idea.
Chester had a way of crafting and delivering lyrics that reflected the darkness and evil that is sin…although he may not have realized it was sin.
I came to Christ after an epic battle with sin that nearly killed me. Even still today, I don’t consider battling sin to be a neat and tidy sniper shot from half a mile away. It’s more like a gory, dirty, blood bath, cage fight/guerrilla war where the enemy never really dies.
But the reality is that the power of sin really is dead and one day, it’s presence will be gone too. It’s dead because someone killed it and died in the process. Except his death is the road to life for anyone who comes to an end of themselves and throws themselves on his mercy for healing and restoration.
Here are some “lyrics” from another author who was very blunt about the battle with sin – the Apostle Paul…
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:15–20 ESV)
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:23–25 ESV)
We all have to get to that point in the fight with the darkness, “our demons”, evil, sin…call it what you want where we say “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?!” There is only one hope and one answer – “Jesus Christ our Lord” who became sin for us so that we become what our souls are crying and starving to be – whole, complete, healed, righteous…reconciled to God.
I still like angry music. I like tattoos. I despise Christian Contemporary Music and plastic Ned Flanders Hellmans on Wonder Bread churchianity. I sometimes just really want/need to be alone. Some parts of life are still really hard. Sin is always there, but so is Jesus and he is greater.
I don’t know if Chester ever put those pieces together before the darkness deceived him completely – but I pray that others will be transparent and vulnerable about the ugliness of sin and seek refuge in the one true answer – Jesus Christ.
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It’s a blessing to see the life of Christ in you, transforming you, and leading you to lead and love others.