By Bryn Rademaker
Happy Lent, y’all! A time of preparation, contemplation, fasting and prayer—all wrapped up in the barrenness of winter, especially for those of us shivering up here in the Midwest.
While Lent is an opportunity for us to dive deep in the sufferings of Christ, meditating on this subject sometimes leaves us low, reminding us of our utter weakness and brokenness. Not only that, but one might catch themselves comparing to the perfection of Christ as he suffers through the Passion, thinking, “I will never be that strong, I’m only a lowly sinner.” It can be very easy to be trapped in the darkness that comes with this season.
As we grow and mature in our faith lives, we might find ourselves being pulled away from the beautiful consoling moments within prayer and falling deeper into the realization of our weakness. We might feel desolate, unable to pray as well or experience joy as easily as usual, even to the point of helplessness. We were born into sin and darkness, and this realization might be magnified during these seasons of our lives.
I know what you’re thinking—that does NOT sound fun at all.
But these seasons of our faith, just like the seasons in the year, come and go (sometimes more slowly than we’d like them to). It is during the low times, however, that God can work miracles even when we least expect him to.
Lent often pulls us deeper into wounds, into darkness, and into waiting. He doesn’t do this to isolate us though, for he is always with us. Instead, he detaches us from the highs in order that we are totally dependent on him—one of the greatest and most amazing gifts he can give us.
I’ve been grasping at love
but you’re giving it freely
And that, my friends, is what this month’s song “Waltz of the Traitor” is all about.
I had the incredible opportunity to grow up with this song’s composer, Aly Aleigha, as I shared life with her amazing younger sister and the rest of her family throughout our years at St. Joseph Catholic School. Years down the road after graduating from Rice Lake High, Aly and I reconnected this past summer as we worked side-by-side leading a faith camp in our beloved Diocese of Superior—me emceeing the camp week and her totally killin’ it through her music. I was awestruck at her ability to speak the profound truth of God to young campers while also drawing them so close to him by leading us all in praise and worship.
In an interview with Jon Leonetti this past year, Aly had the chance to explain the inspiration behind this uniquely beautiful piece of music:
“I was reflecting on an experience I had in high school when I was at this youth conference… It wasn’t until I experienced God in a real, tangible way in adoration at this conference that my life changed. I decided to really, fully try to live for him all the time.”
It was during this encounter with Christ in adoration that she realized,
“I am a traitor—I was born into sin and darkness, but the Lord is constantly fighting for me, constantly chasing after me. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done and what I continue to do to fail him, because he’s constantly trying to win me back over”
This didn’t bring her down whatsoever. In fact, her hope was magnified.
“The waltz is a happy thing: I’ve become a traitor to sin and darkness, and that becomes a joy because the Lord has won me over.”
As a beautiful portrait of Lent, she also reminds us in this interview of Jesus on the cross as he encounters the two thieves being crucified alongside him. One was called the thief who stole heaven, and Aly shares that “Even though this thief totally didn’t deserve it, the Lord still promised to be with him in heaven. It’s a total gift.”
How true that is, friends! It’s a total gift to be loved by God, even amidst the truths of our sin and brokenness.
This Lent, my challenge to you is to listen to this song and to pray with its lyrics. Listen for the story of the waltz that we dance with the Lord, the realization of his saving us after grasping for that light over time. Don’t be afraid to go deep with God even when it hurts to see your weakness. And finally, know that God is with you, even through the barrenness of winter and the waiting of Lent.
Swept up in a rush // when your eye caught mine
It all happened so quickly // yet it took a lifetime
I’ve been grasping at light but it slips through my fingers
All your goodness evades me and selfishness lingers
But everything I thought I knew
Fades like a shadow flees from the rising sun…
Forbidden love // you won’t let me be
Though I’ve been a faithful servant // for the enemy
You captured my heart // like a prisoner of war
Though I fought in the frontlines // against you before
You’re in endless pursuit, I’ve been choosing to roam
You won’t rest until my wandering heart is home
But everything I thought I knew
Fades like a shadow flees from the rising sun
I’ve realized I don’t deserve you
But there’s nothing I wouldn’t trade just to be with you
I know it seems
Foolish to hang on the belief
That someone as glorious as you
Would care about someone like me
And yet the impossibility
Is realized in this mystery
That someone like you could love
Someone like me
I’ve been grasping at love but you’re giving it freely
You have captured my heart, I’m at home when you hold me
(You’re all I ever wanted but / I just didn’t know it yet
You’ve won me over, you’ve / broken all my walls down
You’re all I ever wanted but / I just didn’t know it yet
You’ve won me over, my heart is yours.)
Everything that I thought I knew–
I surrender it over, only to be with you
This traitor has never been more free
‘cause there’s nothing you wouldn’t // trade just to be with me
There’s nothing you wouldn’t // trade just to be with me
~Aly Aleigha is an amazing Catholic woman, coffee lover, and avid rock-climber hailing from my hometown of Rice Lake, WI. She grew up in a beautiful Catholic home with two sisters, all attending Franciscan University of Steubenville for their undergraduate degrees. With Aly’s degree in Theology and Catechetics with a concentration in Youth Ministry, she now works as a full-time singer-songwriter and Catholic speaker. Individually, she travels the area speaking the truth of the gospel to youth and adults while sharing her talent in music. Along with her fellow bandmates, Aly also travels the country leading praise and worship nights with priests, religious, and Catholic speakers on fire for the Lord. When not traveling, the Aly Aleigha band works alongside Father Mike Schmitz at the University of Minnesota Duluth Newman Center. Some of her albums include special appearances by her sisters and their beautiful musical talent, found in her first couple of released albums Jealous Love and The Labyrinth. Other songs to check out by the Aly Aleigha Band include “Psalm 127 (feat. Justin Kostecka),” “You Are,” and “Visitation Song (feat. Jessica Schissel).” You can also find her touring the country with her band’s Project 177, traveling the world on Holy Land trips with Jeff Cavins and Father Mike Schmitz, leading worship at Steubenville Youth Conferences, and other events found on their website at http://www.aly-aleigha.com/.