Friends, family, people we date all influence us as we grow and mature. These relationships can be both positive and negative. They can challenge who we think we are and who we want to be. They can push us into mistakes and teach us how to be better people. More importantly, relationships can teach us about mutual respect and openness. The song “Meant To Be” is about being open to new experiences and relationships.
Key lines: Who knows where this road is supposed to lead / We got nothing but time / As long as you’re right here next to me, everything’s gonna be alright / If it’s meant to be, it’ll be, it’ll be ‘Baby, just let it be / If it’s meant to be, it’ll be, it’ll be
Questions: What does “meant to be” mean? Does it mean relationships just happen, work out somehow, or in what ways do friends have to work at their relationships? How many close friendships can a person have? What qualities do close relationships have? How are they different from other relationships? What do you value most in relationships? Who in your life exemplifies a healthy relationship?
In high school many people come together to form their own social groups. These groups, or cliques, often have expectations about how to dress and act and who to include as a friend. Sometimes we have to sort out who we really are and who we like regardless of what other people expect. The song “This Is Me” tells us that we find true beauty and confidence in being we were are meant to be. It celebrates individuality.
Key Lyrics: When the sharpest words wanna cut me down / I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out / I am brave, I am bruised / I am who I’m meant to be, this is me / Look out ‘cause here I come / And I’m marching on to the beat I drum / I’m not scared to be seen / I make no apologies, this is me
Questions: What qualities do you look for in friends? What qualities do people expect from you? When have you tried to be someone you’re not? What is something beautiful about you?
Some relationships bring out the best in us; they teach us compassion and forgiveness. Other relationships challenge our values and perceptions of who we are and what we want. Gavin James’ song “Hearts on Fire” is about relationships and the challenges that occur when we’re pulled in different directions.
Key lines: Strangers in my head / Keep making me forget / Where I came from…/ There’s madness in eyes / We’re too blind to realize / Just what we’ve done… / I feel it taking a hold / I feel a rush in my bones / For you / I think we’re caught in a fight / Can we make it alright / With all these shadows on our backs / How can we take it back and / How can we love with our hearts on fire
Questions: What values do you look for in relationships? When has a relationship challenged you? How did you resolve the challenges? What keeps you centered when facing the demands of others? What does loving someone mean?
We all experience times when we lose self-confidence and berate ourselves for not being smart enough or good looking enough, for not fitting into what social media, advertising, even our own peers, tell us is the “popular” way to look and act. These can be challenging times that affect how we see ourselves and our roles within our society. The song “Burn So Bright” is about embracing who we are and letting our light shine in spite of the people who would otherwise keep us down.
Key lines: When you fall, you’re gonna hit hard / When you love with your whole heart / Remember the hard times make ya you / That’s when we’ll show the world / They’re not gonna break us
Questions: When have you felt pressure to look or act a certain way? What are some reasons people get shunned in your school or community? Do you think these reasons are valid? When have you challenged the status quo? How have you handled bullies in your life?
Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law and everyone who crowds his doorway; then he goes on to another village to proclaim the good news of God’s nearness. This is the same Jesus who loves and stands by us. The song “Rockabye” is about how people who love give us strength.
Key Lyrics: She tells him “ooh love” / No one’s ever gonna hurt you, love / I’m gonna give you all of my love / Nobody matters like you (stay up there, stay up there) / She tells him “your life ain’t gonna be nothing like my life (straight) / You’re gonna grow and have a good life / I’m gonna do what I’ve got to do” (yeah)
Questions: When you are making a difficult decision, how do the people around you help you? How do they challenge you? How do they support you? How do you handle pressure that threatens your values? Where do you think our world needs healing?
Our global world fills our minds with challenging thoughts to complement and compete with our own worldviews. The song “New Religion” is about what can guide us as we travel our own paths. What inspires us to be our better selves? What calls us beyond our individual selves into friendship and community? We may be looking for signs to lead us toward God. These signs may come by simply looking up at the stars in the night sky like the magi or by imitating the actions of someone who inspires us.
Key lines: A city of strangers, the streetlights, they change us / We all need a little bit more, we all need a little bit more / The saints and the liars, the dealers and buyers / We all need a little bit more, we all need a little bit more / But somewhere there’s a light / A sign that it’s all right / I find it by your side / ….You’re waking me up in the morning
Questions: How hard is finding God in the world today? When have you experienced God? What in the natural world inspires you? Who in the human community inspires you? Who helps you step beyond yourself in your concerns?
Grace VanderWaal challenges us to see more in ourselves and our lives than we recognize in our day to day actions. When we recognize and cultivate our talents, we can find ways to lead and work for good. In doing this, we follow John the Baptist, who “gave witness to the light.” When we share our true selves, we share our gifts with the world.
Key lines: Tap your foot and listen in / Ignore the world, let the music cave in / Close your phone and breathe in the air / You’ll soon realize that there’s something that is / So much more than this
Questions: How do you share your gifts with the world? How do you cultivate these gifts? When has being your true self challenged your friendships? Who do you consider to be a leader in your community or and school?