Please watch the embedded video prior to reading this blog entry. If you can't see it, please click on this link. It is a beautifully written song performed by the band Imagine Dragons. I have heard this song on many occasions, but it didn’t really register on my radar until a friend of mine showed me the video – I was HOOKED! I think the video does an excellent job portraying what I think the song is trying to capture or convey – the reality of human suffering. If you haven’t seen it, please take a moment to watch the video before you read on.
The reality is that this world is hard to live in, plain and simple. As a licensed therapist, I have made my professional life about working with human suffering. Day in and day out, good people, like you and me, walk into my office and tell me some of the darkest stories I have ever heard; stories, at one time, I thought only existed in movies or books. Sometimes these are stories of child physical and sexual abuse; stories of rape; stories of abandonment; stories of the death of children or spouses; stories of self-injury and suicide; stories of shame and despair; stories of loss and ambiguity. So much hurt. So much pain.
This video really resonated with me because it first shows Imagine Dragons concert footage. At first, you might have thought this is one of those cheaply made videos of the band’s performance that lacks creativity, but promotes the excitement of attending one of their concerts. But, then something profound happens. The camera zeros in on one particular attendee and gives you a brief glimpse of her story. Wow!
This reminded me of a time when my kids were much smaller and I’d take them to the mall and let them play in a designated play area. As I sat amongst many parents waiting for my kids to burn off some energy, I found myself lost in my thoughts, wondering about the young lives I was currently watching. At first glance, these kids were happy. They were enjoying life. They ran. They played. They laughed. They jumped and twirled. But then I began to wonder, "What’s going on behind closed doors for these kids? How many of them truly had happy homes? How many were being abused? Which ones were currently experiencing their parents’ divorce? Which ones were growing up in homes of drug addicts or alcoholics; or were growing up in foster care because they were removed from such homes? Which ones had already, at age 3 or 4, experienced more than their share of the darkness that this world has to offer?"
Now, you might be thinking "this guy is completely jaded – all doom and gloom." Well, let me reassure, I am not. I actually tend to be more hopeful and optimistic – a “glass half full” kind of guy. But, the reality is that although the world has many good things to offer, it is not all peaches and cream or sunshine and rainbows. To ignore that fact is to ignore the reality of human suffering.
“When you feel my heat look into my eyes.
It’s where my demons hide. It’s where my demons hide.
Don’t get to close, it’s dark inside.
It’s where my demons hide. It’s where my demons hide.”
I love the chorus of the song. You’ve probably heard the expression “the eyes are the window to the soul.” I believe this was coined by William Shakespeare; however, the Bible seems to also support this notion in Matthew 6:22-24:
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[b] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
When people harbor so much shame from the pain and darkness in their lives, they often don’t want to make eye contact for too long with others; they are afraid you might see what they’ve been working so hard to keep hidden. The chorus really reflects the terrifying nature of the demons we harbor – “don’t get too close” the song says, “it’s dark inside.”
Again, you might be thinking that I haven’t really proven my case that about me being more about hope than doom and gloom. Hang in there a little longer so I can tell you why I love the bridge of this song so much!
“Your eyes they shine so bright.
I want to save that light.
I can’t escape this now.
UNLESS YOU SHOW ME HOW!!”
Powerful! I love this part so much because I think it portrays a desperate cry for help. Dan Reynolds, the lead vocalist, performs this part so beautifully. He literally cries out the final words of the bridge as if he is pleading for someone to show him the way out of his prison……if only they could hear him……if only they would answer his call.
One thing that is so profound about those suffering, which I think is too often ignored, is that they are often crying out for help. The addicts, the abused, the perpetrators, the anxious, the depressed, the grieving, the abandoned….. most of them want to be set free from the demons that torture them on a daily basis. So, the question we have to ask ourselves is not “how do I get them to cry out so I can help” but instead, “When they cry out, will I be listening? And, when I hear them, will I answer the call?”
In closing, I would encourage you to find a song that really speaks to you during this season of your life, whatever it may be for you. Let it serve as kind of a personal anthem. Spend some time thinking about what it means to you and why it resonates so profoundly with you and where you are in life. If you’re in therapy, talk it over with your therapist. See if they can offer any insight based on the work you are doing with them. If you feel like you are in a time in your life where suffering seems to be a heavy theme, then please don’t hesitate to seek professional counsel so that you can shed light on your struggles. Our problems tend to thrive in darkness; thus, the more light we shine on them, the less room within our souls that our demons have to hide.
God bless you all in your journey through this world.