Focus: Flyleaf and Lacey Sturm Songs: "Red Sam," "Beautiful Bride," "Green Heart," "I'm Not Laughing," and "The Decree."
Sometimes referred to as the "Princess of Rock," thanks to her influence through the world-renowned rock band Flyleaf, Lacey Sturm carries an incredible voice for hope and Christ in the rock music scene. Lacey was just a young adult when she started in Flyleaf. And, by the time she left the band in 2012, she was married and had a baby. She was also exhausted from living an extensive touring life. Hence, she stepped away from releasing music.
Lacey didn't stay out of the music scene for long. In 2016, she released her debut album, Life Screams. The album impressively set a Billboard record: Lacey became the first solo female to top the Billboard Hard Rock Albums chart.
Lacey Sturm is—and always has been—very open about her Christian faith. She has written three books, including an autobiography. She also has a side project based on one of her books called Reflect Love Back.
Lacey was someone who struggled with depression to the point of suicidal thoughts. But, once she encountered God, her life changed. Now, she's filled with hope, love, and freedom. Lacey desires nothing more than for her music to influence others in a positive way. I talked with Lacey about the deeper meanings behind some of the music she has been a part of—both in Flyleaf and her solo band.
How have you been doing?
To be honest, I've never struggled with anxiety before. And I've always sort of judged it and to be honest I really never understood that. I just was not patient with it. I felt like people needed to have more courage and just face things and I have all kinds of reasons why I thought that it shouldn't be an issue. And then I actually started going through anxiety struggles during this time. It has been an amazing challenge, I feel like every single thing I've ever judged, I start facing it. That's just one of the new things that I've faced in this season. I feel like I'm doing great with it, but it's been an amazing thing to get compassion for and to get a heart for. I can look at someone and understand where they're coming from.
What are some of the differences between writing for Flyleaf and your self-titled band?
With Flyleaf, we started the band so young. We were all young adults. The age factor was a huge difference. Not to mention not having kids nor being married. It's just like I'm a whole different person.
For me, growing up in the grunge era of music, I didn't care if I had a place to stay. We all traveled in a van together or stayed in a motel room. Now, I have to think about my family first. How am I going to be the most loving mom? A good wife? I never thought about being a good bandmate, which probably sucked for the guys. Now, I feel like it's my responsibility to keep this place peaceful.
Earlier this year, people were using the hashtag, "the show must stop." For me, it was amazing to hear, being an artist who was in the industry for 10 years. Someone who toured 300 days a year. I remember shortly after getting married and having a baby, I sat down with our record label. I needed to step away from this life. My manager said, "Lacey, I think you look happy. And, I think I've ever seen you this happy." That was incredible to hear. I felt like he truly cared about me outside of the business. To put it another way, for writing songs now, I'm not as concerned about the injustice in the world, as I am about the injustice in my home.
#1 "Red Sam," from Flyleaf's self-titled 2006 album
"It's very much about the beginnings of Flyleaf, one of the first songs we wrote. It was on our first EP. I do remember the lyrics being really important to me. I kept feeling like the ability to discern truth is one of the hardest things. And the truth is being attacked in this generation. That song is also talking about personal experiences, feeling suicidal, and my encounter with God, becoming a Christian. As a truth seeker my whole life, I knew I found real truth with God. It silenced so much despair and fear. There was this idea that terrible things are going to happen to us and there's nothing you can do about it. You just need to get the most you can out of life and just suck it up.
But then, when I faced God, I realized my life is not an accident. I'm not a random thing that just popped out of nowhere. God tells you that you are made on purpose, intentionally, and that I have a plan for how this is gonna fit together. You're my art. So, in "Red Sam" particularly, I remember singing, "It's just a breath away." And what I meant by that was when I faced God, it took my breath away. Everything stopped and changed. But now, I know life is on purpose and now I can breathe free. I'm here for a reason. There's a reason for all these things going on. And I can say yes to it. I remember waking up the next day thinking this day this is actually a gift."
As Lacey said, in our generation, truth is being attacked often. It can be discouraging. I, and everyone at NRT, believes that God is truth. There are many people who are searching for truth and Christians know what real truth is in our lives. If you are a Christian, you have a responsibility and opportunity to share your story, just as Lacey has countless times, to help others come to find the truth. I challenge you to think of one person specifically in your life who is not a Christian and tell them your testimony. Tell them how God has brought truth, hope, and love into your life and can do the same for others. Lacey would champion you and so do I.
#2 "Beautiful Bride," from Flyleaf's 2009 album Memento Mori
"I've actually been on a journey with the topic of unity for several years now. I've been praying for God to help me understand about unity and about His prayer that we would be one. I think that a lot of other faiths, religions, and philosophies are established on a part of truth. The interesting question is, where do we all agree? Because we really do have the truth written on our hearts as humans, we're made in God's image.
So, I feel like there is a unity in all of us. I think the key is in repentance, honestly. Every time there's been a judgment in my heart, God has put me in that situation and shifted my ability to judge it. He put me in the position where all I can do is have compassion for that thing, because I later went through it. Unity can be found in having compassion for other people, and the best way for that compassion is to repent of our own struggles."
We all desire for unity in our lives. Whether or not you are a Christian, you know that having peace and unity in your life is a blessing. It can be your workplace, home, church, or any other area of life. When we are united for a main purpose or goal, and work to preserve that unity, it can benefit everyone involved. The best way that Lacey found to build unity, is through repentance. It sounds strange at first, but as she explained, it can be hard to come alongside someone when you can not relate to them or have compassion for them. If there is an area of your life where there is disunity, examine yourself and ask God to reveal what it is that hinders the unity you seek.
#3 "Green Heart," from Flyleaf's 2012 album New Horizons
"Pat (bass player) actually wrote that song. That song is like his life message. He was a humble person. He would never want anything for himself, he would always want everything for everyone else. That is a beautiful thing. It was as if he was always guarding his heart. The more that we focus on our feelings and what's wrong with us, the more miserable we are. And that's what Jesus said, "If you try to save your life, you'll lose it. But if you lose your life for my sake you find it.
As Christians, when we follow Jesus' example, He gave his life for us out of the joy that was set before Him. Here's what we can learn from that - The joy of the Lord is my strength. With my husband, for example, if he's happy with something I do for him, even when I don't want to do it, I know he's gonna be so happy. It empowers me to help him because of that. I think it is a burden when we think that we're the ones saving the world. There's the freedom to just come alongside someone to help them alongside Jesus."
True joy comes from serving others. This is a universal truth, we are not designed to live life alone. Because we are not meant to live alone, we often struggle when we do try to. Lacey said, "The more that we focus on our feelings and what's wrong with us, the more miserable we are." This is so true. If you find yourself in a depressed state of mind or heart, I encourage you to look at the people and places around you. Consider reaching out and just simply asking "How can I help you?" Consider volunteering, reaching out, and enjoy serving alongside Jesus. As Lacey sings, you will "lose it all/buy something beautiful. It is beautiful seeing people joyfully helping one another.
#4 "I'm Not Laughing," from Lacey Sturm's 2016 self-titled album
"During the time when the song was being written, and when it was put out, there was a heightened awareness of bullying and how it affects people who are struggling with self-worth and suicide. I definitely remember being a bully at certain points in my life. I remember being bullied too. I know that bullying is not the cause of suicide, but it can trigger things in people because they don't know who they are. And they think that their value is coming from what other people say. Only God can give that level of worth.
I relate to being the one pointing the finger and I relate to the one being pointed and laughed at. Often, the main solution is to stop the hate, but it is often spread instead. Bullying the bully will not end the pain, it just spreads it. It's hard to say that in a two minute song. That's the beauty about art, and music, is that you'll take it and let it mean something to you. It can speak to what you're going through and you can apply it to your own life."
With the powerful tool of the internet, issues such as bullying become a much more powerful force. Through the internet, people can bully others even when they are not in person, yet at the same time, people can use the internet to stand up for others and encourage them. I know for me, whenever I am being bullied, in any manner, it is often much easier to try to retaliate. Sadly, this does nothing more than spread hate. It is also usually easy to dismiss the bullying of someone else, because as Lacey sings, "They aren't your tears/it ain't your pain/So what's it too you?" Instead, let us take the charge of stopping the hate. Jesus, in Matthew 5:44, tells us we need to love our enemies and pray for them. I challenge you to take a moment and pray for two things regarding this message. First, pray for the compassion to help other being bullied. Secondly, pray for those who have hurt you. We can help stop the spread of hate.
#5 "The Decree," the lead 2020 single for Lacey Sturm's upcoming album
"We have been through a strange thing in our world right now. We are getting tested on all of the things that we preach. When suddenly everything gets shut down, then we have to go and be with our families. And we don't know where our next check is gonna come from. Everything is 'put your money where your mouth is.' Do we know who we are when everything stops? Do we know who we are when all of those things that we say aren't really life actually do get shut down?
From a Christian perspective, we have power in this time that we have not acknowledged. And we're going to need to learn how to access the power that Jesus gave us in prayer. I remember an older couple who were driving us around one time. Their love was so strong, and when we asked about that, they said their struggles with cancer made their relationship stronger. Tough times can make or break relationships. So what is your relationship with God? Is the pastor the one who brings you to Jesus or do you know Him? Does everything stop because there's nobody for you to go and do your good deeds? For 'The Decree,' it challenges some people's idea of freedom. What does it mean to be free? What does it mean that we have the right to worship God? To pursue our dreams? All of a sudden now, we feel like our freedoms are being taken away and we're starting to recognize what they mean."
Lacey's first single in over three years, "The Decree" comes at such a crucial time for many to hear. Lacey screams, "The time's not near, it's here/A holy fear is here." Too often in life, we talk about what we will do when tough times come our way, but when they do, we do not always act accordingly as we wish we would. For many, 2020 has brought many difficult situations and many are living in fear. Lacey offers many self-examining questions here. The narrative imagery offered in the song verses describes someone living in the hope of Christ during a turbulent time. Lacey sings "But when the world is scared and crying out she laughs fearless inside" Let this difficult time in our lives be a time for you to shine. As Christians, we have hope beyond what this world can throw at us. Let's use our freedom in Christ to bring hope to others.
Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your heart behind these songs. It's awesome to hear.