Well Wednesday night was the night.
And I do not exaggerate when I say that it was the best night of my entire life.
It was everything. It was the joy I felt in being a part of the dancing and the singing. It was the special experiences I shared with Joel and Luke, and it was being with my friends and praising Jesus... as sisters standing side by side.
We laughed and we cried. We fangirled. We jammed out. We killed our vocal cords. It was such an incredible, beautiful beautiful thing. It was the most amazing experience I've ever had.
* * * * *
I remember joking with one of my girlfriends earlier in the week about how crazy-awesome it would be to meet the guys. But of course, we believed there was no way in heck that that could ever happen. The odds were just too small to even consider for one second.
But Jesus fulfilled my dreams that night. In fact, He did way, way more than I could ever have asked or imagined. Not only did we meet Luke and Joel, but my dear friend G and I shared a very special moment with Joel before the show started.
So here is the story. Here is the event that forever changed my life.
Waiting in line:
|we were bored and antsy to get inside the church where the concert was going to be, so we sang super loud and took pictures of our feet.|
The morning of the concert, G and I put our brains together and thought it would be really awesome to make our own For King and Country tshirts to wear that night. So we did. And we covered them in lyrics from some of the band's songs scribbled on with sharpies, our own designs of "busted hearts", and some-- uh, stuff on the back. We were so proud. Still are, in fact. ;)
|G and i. and R in the background, being the epic photo-bomber that she is.|
We even "tattooed" our arms and hands with lyrics from the band's songs! Yeah, yeah we went kinda crazy.
All day that day, wearing our shirts and lyrics on our arms, people told us we were "crazy and weird".
But I'd like to add that none of the following would have ever happened if we hadn't gone for it like we did...
* * * * * * *
And we are waiting for it to finally start.
Things are running a bit behind schedule, so G decides to go shop at merch.
About five minutes later, she comes back out to where I and the other girls are, wearing a very serious look on her face. ( you should know that this girl is NEVER serious or straight-faced ) "Hannah!" she says. "I need you to come with me right now! Apparently there are some people out there who want to take pictures of the fans like us!"
I scream. She screams. We are both freaking out.
My heart is racing. I imagine hers was, too.
We both run out to where merch is, hand in hand. Weaving our way through the crowds.
When we reach one of the tables set up in the lobby covered in official For King and Country merchandise, we are told to wait for the photographer.
So we wait. And we wait. We wait for what seems like an eternity, until it's just about showtime. We are getting a little concerned about it starting without us and consider leaving and trying to come back later after the show is over.
We are on the verge of turning to go.
But just then, Joel comes running up the basement steps. My heart stops. I grab G fast and make out, "G, IT'S JOEL!" She whips her head around and sees him now, too. Mouths hanging wide open and clinging tightly to one another, we watch him, time standing still in our minds. He looks like a man on a mission. But he quickly stops to hug a lady who must have been a friend at one of the tables closest to the stairs. She hugs him back and then stops him as he turns to go, points to us, and whispers something in his ear. I'll never know what she said, but I can only guess.
Because the biggest, most genuine grin I've ever seen crosses his face as his eyes meet mine for one split second. He has seen our shirts. He breaks out into a run, making his way around the masses of people to where we are standing, knees shaking. People are staring now. He says as he is getting closer, "let me see those tshirts!" And then, with arms wide open, reaches us and says, "Give me some love!" we hug him and he's got his arms tight around us both. Then he tells us to stop by meet and greet afterwards so we can talk more.
As he runs off to get ready to start, the photographer finally arrives. I look at Grace and she looks back at me. She tears up, and I immediately break out into sobs. We've got our arms locked around each other, crying into each others shoulders. Now people are really staring, but I could care less. I had just met Joel of For King and Country. He hugged us. He loved our shirts we had put so much work into. Someone says, "Wow! He hugged her and made her cry!"
Yes. He made me cry happy tears.
Here was Joel of a major Christian rock band, the brother to Rebecca St. James, who was busy and had plenty on his mind I am sure, but he took the time to stop and say hi to us. Maybe somehow he could see how much I look up to him and his brother, how much their songs have helped me to heal from the past. How much they have influenced me. How much I respect them for being the Godly young men that they are.
Well we get our pictures taken and then we head back inside where the concert was to be held, red-eyed and still bawling like babies. Yes, yes now both of us are in tears.
G and I make our way back to our seats. Hugging and crying and hugging and crying and I am blowing gobs of snot from my nose, wishing I had brought more kleenexes with me ( TMI, I know. I do apologize ). The other girls in our group are worried sick when they see us in the state that we are in. They think something really awful has just happened. But all I can say when they ask us what's wrong is, "Joel just hugged us!". I still don't know how I managed to make even that out in between sobs. And now they are laughing and smiling all their gorgeous smiles as we retell our story. More sobs. More hugs. More snot-blowing.
I have never been so happy in all my life.
I don't think Joel could ever know how special and worth it all he made me feel.
Then it begins. First, Dara Maclean plays her set, followed by my boys.
And somehow, right as Luke and Joel begin their performance, Jesus saves just enough places right up next to the stage for us. Somehow, we were able to take up new spots five feet away from where the two were playing.
All throughout the show, me and my girls sway to the sentimental, slow songs, bounce up and down and clap and snap to the fast songs, and cry to the songs that mean something to each of us in a different way. We share gut-busting laughs as Joel would sometimes catch my eye or G's and smile as we jammed out like there was no tomorrow. But I think it was mostly just that he remembered us as the girls with the cool tshirts from earlier. ;)
|D and R. and of course, Joel and Luke working their magic in the background. ;)|
I loved it most when the lights would go out and the only thing in that huge, dark room would be the flashing of these two bright white lights that Joel and Luke would shine all around the room. I loved it when one of the boys would stand on top of the piano and jam out. I loved it when they would let people from the crowd sing a bit from a song of theirs while they held the mic up to them.
But I loved holding my friend's hands, or putting our arms around each other and being a part of it all. I remember crying in the middle of Crave being played and G reaching out to squeeze my hand. Or Dara talking about forgiving someone who has hurt you, and my friend D putting an arm around me as the tears flowed.
It felt like we were all sort of linked together by something invisible. Like we were all connected. And I truly believe that that was Jesus working; I believe it was the Holy Spirit that had us knit together like that. It really was a remarkable, indescribable feeling. Unreal. Call me cliche, but almost other-worldly.
|g, me, d and c.|
At this point, my mom calls me up to check on us. I tell her everything is great, and about my experience with Joel. She can hardly believe it. I tell her I love her and say goodbye, promising to give her all the wonderful details in between later on. It is now Jason Castro's turn in the spotlight.
At the end of the show, all of the performers are back on stage and thanking us for coming and being so amazing. They say we were the perfect kick-off for this tour. But I want to thank them. I want to thank them for everything they do for me every day of my life.
We end by singing The Proof of Your Love at the top of our lungs.
And we kind of pretty much blow the roof off that building.
* * * * *
Hands shaking and sweating, we finally made our way up to the table where Luke and Joel were signing just about anything. So... yeah, they ended up signing one of G's blue converse. And those moments I spent talking to them are now a blur of complete and utter happiness swirling around in my head... and in my heart.
Joel comments more than once about how awesome our shirts are. They both sign a scrap of blue paper for me. Luke adds Romans 12 to the bottom of his signature, which talks about being a living sacrifice to Jesus; letting my life be the proof of HIS LOVE.
He tells us he thinks our shirts are pretty awesome, too, and then we walk away. But as we are going, I turn back to quickly tell him, "Thank you for everything you do!" He says, "No problem!"
* * * * *
The emotion I felt during this concert was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I was even compelled more than once to lift up my hands in praise and close my eyes and just sing as loudly as I could and it didn't ever matter. Later, G and I decided we both felt that because Joel and Luke were doing it and making it feel like a relaxed and safe place for us to be, we felt like we could do that, too. It was just plain beautiful. And I don't know how else to describe it. Just beautiful. And surreal.
I will remember this night for the rest of my life. I can honestly say that it has grown my faith. Yes, yes just one night can take my faith and twist it into something I had never seen or known before. It made me realize the power of music. It made me realize how His Spirit moves in all things, because I had never witnessed it quite like this.
I am so blessed to have met these guys. They were the most polite, respectful, and sweet dudes I have ever talked to. I could clearly see their love for Jesus is all that they did. Not only in their performance, but in the way they treated me and my friends. Their actions will always remind me what it actually looks like to see the proof of His Love in someone's life. I looked up to them a lot before, but I do even more now.
This night, just this one night, changed me so much. It changed my out looks and perspectives on things. It softened my heart towards people I was unforgiving towards. It gave me hope for the future. It showed me how much Jesus does love me. After all He has done. In just one stinkin night. Heck YES.
All I can say is thank you. Thank you Luke, thank you Joel! Thank you, Jesus!!! Thank you for giving me yet another piece in the puzzle of healing. But I think this one counts as more than one. It counts as a couple. It has helped me to begin to see what is coming together. I can start to see my heart now. I can start to see what's coming and what You've got planned for me. And it looks to be pretty sweet. I am looking forward to it.
A heart filled with gratitude and complete joy,
p.s. a special shout out to Mandi for all the amazing photography you see here!!! You rock, girl! <3