Joellen Kemper, May 9th 1989 Tour. Sold Out.

I remember when her first single, Tim McGraw, came out and how deeply it resonated with my (15?...16? year old) soul. It was one of the first songs I ever downloaded on to my iTunes account and like any new song I ever obsess over, it was always on repeat. Growing up through the years, I had a respect for Tay Tay even after all of the haters seemed to pick apart the dumbest things. I recognized a talent, a passion, but most importantly, an innocence unlike that of all of her recent predecessors.

But then her latest album, 1989, came out and I kicked and screamed. She had crossed over. She denounced her association with Spotify. She had chopped off her hair. Her videos became edgier and sexier. And some of these things are fine but deep down, I knew it. She had sold part of her soul. All for more followers.

Some may say she's just matured. Some may say I am just plain stupid for even caring this much. Or even that I'm too critical.

And even though I still have a respect for her now (it's been a long process of forgiving this past year and a half lol) I can't help but grieve that part of her is missing. That quirky, but reserved soul who didn't mind pouring out all of her vulnerabilities into her song writing. With all those little nuances of teenage romance notions, friendship, hard lessons, although at times could have been considered naive and corny, I would take it all back! All of that traded in for a "hardened, I'll pretend like I'm strong with some sass, but really I just want to be sexy for the camera," work. And I say work because keeping up that kind of image is the sort of thing that eventually sends you straight to rehab.

I honestly don't mean to say all of this to put her down. I consider her an artist, a valuable asset to the music industry and I have a feeling that I will always love her music.

But it just kind of all hit me last night. I have been watching her latest music videos while I workout, because they are upbeat and just what I need to get me to go that literal extra mile. But after I finished my workout and collapsed on the couch, I started watching some of her music videos from 2011-2013 and I saw a completely different person (Ours, Everything Has Changed, Begin Again).Videos in which she embraced classy, corny, quiet, and quirky.

Then I realized something... I have been selling out. I can remember being 14 years old and starting a diet. And over the years my insecurities spiraling into more diets, trying out new looks, attempting and gaining different successes, changing my career path a bazillion times all because I thought I lacked and I wasn't accepted for just being. If only I could be thinner. Smarter. Prettier. Funnier. Accomplished.

I think a lot of it stemmed from being the underdog. That quiet, nerdy, religious girl in school who never had a date. Who struggled with starving herself during the week and then addictively binge eating on the weekends. The girl who was always looked over. If only I did this, this, or this, I could finally be seen. And I think that now, even though I am happily married to an appreciative, praising man, I still deal with the wounds of my adolescence which say that I am simply not good enough.  And so I wake up and try harder.

 I feel like what I'm doing here is building cities, attracting tourists. But in the midst of it all, neglecting my own home. And it has simply become uninhabitable.

I'm not entirely sure where one goes to rest in themselves, or what it means to stop trying so dang hard. But that is what I want. An inner peace that surpasses all understanding. Not a constant inner voice that hates, calling me stupid, fat, or ugly. Or to not be in constant planning mode so that I can try to have control over every aspect of my image. Because, let's admit it, that's all the control boils down to. I think this is what Peter means when he says "Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:4)
Insecurities scream and scramble about. Confidence is chill and just takes care of issues as they arise.

It's okay to love beauty, fashion, fitness, a job, a hobby, a clean house...But that is not what defines a woman. In fact, a woman who bases their identity upon any of these things has been caught up in idolatry and will find that her whole world can collapse at any given moment. And maybe that's why mine has felt a little shaky. One moment I can be enjoying the embrace of God while the next I'm running into my burning house grabbing underwear, apples, and toothpaste. All things that I pretty much need, but not what I should be giving my life up for.

I know that a lot of my natural restlessness stems from staking my identity in all of the wrong things. And even though I have recognized that throughout the years, I fight and rationalize and cling too tightly to them still. I'm just hoping I'm not too stubborn this time to trade it all in for His something greater.


  1. YES. I love this and completely relate. You are such a great writer!

    1. Gurrrrrl! Thank you so much for your encouragement. Your blog posts get me through the work day *sees Michelle has new post. Locks herself in bathroom. Dies of hysterics. Co-worker tries to beat down the door*