Francesca Battistelli tells the story behind the song that shaped the themes of her last album.
Ever since I first heard "Free to be Me" by Francesca Battistelli from her Gold certified debut album My Paper Heart, I was hooked by the emotional and biblical messages of her songs. In fact, that song was the 39th song I featured for my "behind the song" devotional article series which started back in March 2008. I've since featured eleven more of Franny's songs, and now this is our 13th devotional together, making Francesca the most featured female artist over the past eight years and 700 song devotionals.
Francesca has recently released the title track "If We're Honest" as a radio single from her album, which has once again captivated me as it features Franny's unique brand of gourmet lyrical phrasing embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those "with ears to hear." I had the chance to speak with Francesca about her new song "If We're Honest" for my 700th behind the song devotional.
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
I wrote this song with Jeff Pardo and Molly Reed. For the first hour and a half we were talking, catching up, venting and sharing what we were going through in our lives. I shared about how I was dealing with some situations where I was walking through a season of wanting to shake some people in my life and say "just be real with me" rather than trying to make situations sound better than they were. They were encouraging me and commiserating to some degree, and Jeff said we needed to write a song about what I was going through and the need to be real and honest with each other.
He started playing the piano part, and we knew something special was happening. We had our own thoughts about our need to be more honest with each other, wondering what it would be like to be more honest all the time and have that abundant life that Christ has called us to have. A key to that is to drop the guile and pretenses that we have in our relationships. This song just flowed so naturally. I didn't know that day it would be the title track, but I knew it would be my favorite song on the album.
I've always been fascinated by James 5:16, because I know I need to confess my sins to the Lord so that He can forgive me, and He has set up the church so that we can also confess to one another. Not just to say I've sinned against you, but to share about your struggles and sin areas in your life for the process of healing to begin. Sometimes believers think they'll just confess to God, but not to one another. I found in my own life, in dealing with pride and fear, that saying it out loud takes the power away from it. Confessing sin and everything going on in our lives leads to restoration. Let's be done with the fake and get real as believers and as human beings. Life's too short.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
James 5:16(NIV): "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
James 5:16(VOICE): "So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life."
1 Timothy 6:12(NKJV): "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
What is the takeaway message?
It is interesting how this theme of "if we're honest" so naturally arose in the writing of songs for this album. Writing songs for the first time as a mom for this album showed me where I was at that time. There were no pretenses, and I wasn't trying to be anyone that I'm not. Once you are a parent, you get a taste for what really matters. You're not as worried about what people think of you.
I was also going through transitions of personal and business relationships, and I saw how a lack of transparency and honesty can really harm relationships and holds back all that God can do in a partnership or friendship. I was desperately crying out for that and wanting to challenge myself and others to live a life with more transparency, to quit putting up facades and walls with each other.
Something I say from stage a lot lately is that it hit me one night that why does the enemy try to keep us so isolated? That's what the lack of honesty and transparency creates, is isolation and inability to really have true and deep meaningful community with anybody. He does that because when we are isolated, we are less of a threat. If the body of Christ is truly united and we can put aside our differences and our pride in ourselves and be real with each other, that would be a big threat to the enemy. I challenge people to do that.
Lyrics: Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I'm a mess and so are you
We've built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do
Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest
If we're honest
Don't pretend to be something that you're not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
our secrets down at the cross, at the cross
It would change our lives
It would set us free
It's what we need to be
As a Christian father and husband, I can really relate to Francesca's songs about identity, anxiety, marriage and parenthood. She is one of my favorite writers in all of Christian music because her songs are so emotional, vulnerable and authentic. Francesca is an anointed songwriter and singer, and she has a profound way of piercing my soul with her poignant words, tender singing and inspirational truths. Like her previous releases, the album's central theme is about finding our identity in Christ, being honest and transparent with ourselves and others to allow God's grace to shine in our lives by demonstrating how in our weakness, His strength is made perfect. We display that we are His sons and daughters through our words and actions.
I am very impressed by the album, as I feel like we are getting to hear more and more of Francesca's personal story and where she is coming from as a fellow believer in Christ. In particular, throughout the album you'll hear many different expressions about the Lord, about Who He is and what He is doing in our lives. I know personally that I am in a better mood after I finish listening to her album as it transforms negative things I am thinking about myself to the truth of what God thinks.
"If We're Honest" is a wonderful song of encouragement and a prayer to ask God to break your pride, live redemption's story and move closer to who we're meant to be in Christ. This song is a great prayer and answer to that call. What is one area in your life that you feel God may be calling you to exercise faith and live out the words of this song?
The song celebrates the restoration we have with God and each other when we are honest, repent and confess to one another: "It would change our lives, it would set us free, it's what we need to be." God wants us to know that He's faithful to complete what's He's started in all of us who have put our hope and trust in Jesus. This song convicts me that I don't want to waste any more time. Sing along, "Bring your brokenness and I'll bring mine, 'cause love can heal what hurt divides, and mercy's waiting on the other side if we're honest, if we're honest." Amen to that!
Watch Francesca sing the song 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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