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#668 - "Be Kind to Yourself" by Andrew Peterson
Andrew Peterson shares way God revealed these powerful truths about how He sees us.

Posted: November 05, 2015 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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Having consistently enjoyed Andrew Peterson's poignant songs like "Lay Me Down," "All Things New," "Dancing in the Minefields" and "Rest Easy," I was excited to hear The Burning Edge of Dawn, the latest project from the gifted and thought-provoking songwriter. The ten new tracks were written simultaneously with the recording process, with Peterson working closely with his longtime friend Gabe Scott.

Peterson's writing, both in his songs and in his recently completed acclaimed book series the Wingfeather Saga, seek to bring to mind simple but crucial truths about redemption, love, hope and what it looks like to live the human story. Andrew's poignant songwriting is coupled with musical excellence as each song urges me to better see God. 

The Burning Edge of Dawn is sure to connect with all listeners who like catchy songs filled with truth and yearning for God. Andrew invites you into his life in such an authentic and relatable way, you'll feel like you are a lifelong friend after you hear this album. He writes about themes that cause me to hang on to every word he sings. This album once again exhibits Peterson's gift of relating the challenges of life and the need for a Savior like no one else. I had the chance to speak with Andrew about "Be Kind to Yourself."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

This song was one of the last songs written for the album. Gabe had written the piano part. Almost all of the songs on the album began as voice memos that I would listen to and think about how to craft them into songs. I was driving home from the studio one night thinking about my little girl Skye, who is twelve years old and just precious and sweet, and also really emotional. Like a lot of girls her age, she's going through changes, and she had a night where she was upset about something. I saw a turn happen where whatever she was upset about turned inward and she was no longer upset about something else, but she was upset with and hard on herself. 

I remember being her age, and I also remember being the age I am now and not liking myself very much, thinking "if only God had made me different, I wouldn't annoy my friends as much." I can be really hard on myself. Seeing it happen with her, it really broke my heart. I was talking with her and told her she needs to be kind to herself, and I prayed with her. When I came to bed, my wife said she hoped I paid attention to the words I said to Skye, because that's what she says to me all the time. 

It was this beautiful moment where I think God ambushed me with this song I wrote for my daughter. I sang it for her and we both cried and all of a sudden I felt God saying to me to pay attention to the love I have for my daughter because that's the love He has for me, only infinitely more. It turned into a song that God was using to speak to me about His love as well as for me to speak my daughter about my love for her.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJV): "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Luke 6:35 (NIV): But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Highest because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

1 John 1:9 (NIV): If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV): Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

What is the takeaway message?

I was nervous when I wrote the song that people may misunderstand the message. Jesus tells us that in order to save our lives we need to lose our lives, and that loving others first is the principle. I think there's a very clear distinction between self-hatred and self-love. It's about just being kind to yourself instead of having a selfish love, like a snake eating its own tail kind of love where everything is about yourself. 

I have a friend who told me that self-loathing is another form of self-worship. If you are beating yourself up, all of that negative energy could be directed to the Lord and loving people around you instead of this downward spiral and endless loop. That's where Christ wants to step in-between and tells us to let ourselves off the hook. Realize that we are all someone that Jesus delights in and was willing to die for, and don't hate yourself.

I remember in high school how I thought I was the worst person in the world. I would walk around thinking about how I'd disappointed God, my parents and myself. I sometimes think that Satan is more pleased with the shame I carried around all the time than about the things I had done to feel ashamed. The enemy would love for us to carry around a cloud of shame that completely steals any joy and ability to aim our attention outward and build God's Kingdom and love the people around us in joy and freedom. C. S. Lewis said "if you can't forgive yourself, but God has forgiven you, then you are setting yourself as a higher tribunal than God Himself." If God has forgiven you, then you have no right to hold yourself captive anymore.

You've got all that emotion
That's heaving like an ocean
And you're drowning in a deep dark well
I can hear it in your voice
That if you only had a choice
You would rather be anyone else

I love you just the way that you are
I love the way He made your precious heart
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself

I know it's hard to hear it
When that anger in your spirit
Is pointed like an arrow at your chest
When the voices in your mind
Are anything but kind
And you can't believe your father knows best

I love you just the way that you are
I love the way He's shaping your heart
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself

How does it end
When the war that you're in
Is just you against you against you?
You've gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies too

You can't expect to be perfect
It's a fight you gotta forfeit
You belong to me whatever you do
So lay down your weapon
Darling, take a deep breath
And believe that I love you

Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself

Gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies
Gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies too

Whether as an album to set the mood for reflection and worship or for personal times of devotion, I rate The Burning Edge of Dawn by Andrew Peterson highly for fans of truth-telling singer-songwriters like Bebo Norman, Josh Wilson, and Jason Gray. We've all been in that place where we feel unworthy of God's love and down in the dirt. God promises us in Matthew 11:29-30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. God comes and claims us in our darkest place. When we are in communion with God, it is joyful and not a burden. 

This song and album celebrate the freedom we are promised in God's Holy Word (2 Corinthians 5:17): "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." Christians are new creations on the inside. The Holy Spirit gives us new life, and we don't have to live anymore with our guilt, fears, or worries. We are born again, and we need to live as children of God. Are you excited about God's hope inside of you? Have you humbled yourself and asked Jesus to make you a new creation? Our gentle Savior Jesus invites us to "rest easy" in Him, and He wants each of us to "be kind to ourselves."

Andrew has always had a knack for hitting me where I am spiritually and expressing the prayerful yearnings of my heart. Andrew's vulnerability and ability to connect emotionally in his songs bring me closer to God. We all have insecurities in some way. God has wired us to need Him. Having anxiety and being able to overcome fear can be accomplished only by stepping into God's supernatural ability. He desires that from us as His children. It's in our weakness that God is made strong. It's only through God's grace that we can overcome our emotional conflicts of feeling invisible and conspicuous at the same time.

I'm in a similar life stage as Andrew and can totally relate to everything he shares and sings. I've struggled with perfectionism and people-pleasing. This song really opens up my eyes to the truth that those feelings are actually selfish and not God-honoring. This is an important message for everyone because Jesus tells us to love our enemies as we love ourselves. Since so many of us have trouble loving ourselves, no wonder it is hard to love our enemies. 

Looking out for the needs of others is what matters the most. This song is about realizing that if your eyes are open to the needs of others around you, and if you serve others and care about people more than thinking about your doubts, then you can "Learn to love, learn to love, learn to love your enemies too." Amen to that!

Watch the lyric video below.

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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