Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Last night I checked off a bucket list item: I saw the Foo Fighters in concert. They have been in the carefully selected top few of my bucket list concerts for probably a decade now. When I heard they would be returning to tour so close to me, I pounced on the opportunity. What made it even sweeter were the friends of mine who were already attending this festival. This was not just the Foo Fighters (though in my eyes it was). This was a three-day festival, chocked full of bands and experiences to bring people all over the nation together. These friends in attendance are the festival pros. They have the setup, the presale memberships, and the network that flows from one festival to the next. Their preference of music falls in the rock and heavy metal categories. Heavy metal being a bit beyond me, I had not really given much thought to their music in the past. It was one night while hanging out that their passion for this choice music spilled out in conversation. The music portrays a lot of deep emotions that many people (myself included) have never stopped to pay attention to because of the tough exterior. Emotions and experiences that many other genres brush over with catchy tempos and surface-level lyrics. My friends shared how these shows are not just the music, but the people. How they have tried other genres and felt judged and out of place. But with rock, all are accepted. All are loved.
Their explanation and the passion that poured from their body language as they spoke about the family they had created with other festival goers grabbed my attention. I may not get the music but I get the community it creates. They invited me to experience it for myself. While I was really intrigued, I was also somewhat put off that I would not know the music and would be paying for a less than exhilarating time. However, I love my friends and wanted to try what they love.
Lately, I am trying to do more of this. Loving my family and friends by doing what they love to do (within reason; I mean boundaries are necessary). I am finding this to be the most eye opening experience. When it may not be my thing and I am tempted to pick up my phone to provide additional entertainment, I try to stop myself by praying for God to show me the real story that is there. Show me the person or people I am with. Show me their passions and why. It has been a really interesting prayer. It has grown love in the most unexpected ways and places and has brought a lot of beautiful faces into my life. The festival-goer friends are prime examples of these faces. Tough rocker exteriors, yet gentlemen to the core. These guys are considerate, protective, loving to all, and generous without expectation of gain in return. The world has a lot to learn from these men.
I made the snap decision to Friday to attend Sunday’s festivities. Leading up to the concert, I encountered controversy that I would not have expected in the least. The subject of the festival was brought up at our Mother’s Day dinner among all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Immediately I was questioned as to why I would want to go to “such a place.” I shook off that comment and kept about my plans of going. Little did I expect on of my aunts to hop on board, but before I knew it, she was purchasing her ticket right there at the dinner table. This threw me. While she has always been a fun aunt, we have not had the relationship of her jumping in with my friends and me to go out. This did not seem like her scene and I worried I would bear the burden of judgment and awkwardness, but my aunt seemed so excited. Family over everything, right?
The worrying only got worse. What would I wear to this? I am not the all black-wearing in the rocker way. I am more so the all black wearing as in an LBD and heels type of way. I rummaged through my options and dashed out to TJ MAXX (always a saving grace in a pinch). With a vintage tee and a fun pair of heart-shaped shades, I felt as festival ready as I could last minute. Granted, I was the only one at the festival wearing pink, not counting the hair.
Sunday finally came and I was so excited to see my friends and favorite band all in one setting. Yet, the rain threatened and Facebook reviews bashed the festival comparing the experience to being locked in a cage by those who went and an experience put on by Satan himself by all of the local churches who would not set foot near it. Well who just so happens to attend one of these local churches? My grandparents. When the concert came up again, it launched a full reading of these reviews and recap of the rumors that had sent that day’s crowd of worshipers into a tizzy. The real hurt came when my grandpa looked right at me and said, “you going to this concert is not who you are.” Ouch. That punch actually landed, right in my already sinking stomach. My grandpas’ opinions hold great weight in my life. A comment like that shakes me.
Still, I went. My stomach in knots the whole drive over, I asked God to keep my eyes on Him. Should I not go to the concert? Was this fear in my stomach or His protection of telling me not to go? It seemed as if this was not that gut feeling of not going but fear that paralyzes. That kind of fear is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7). He gives us power, discipline, and love. The power to overcome harsh comments and boldness to show up to experiences outside of our comfort zones. Discipline to know our boundaries and limits so as not to fall into temptation but to flee it. Love to cover those like us and totally different from us. Those who are easy to love and those who get on our nerves. I love this verse. It is my battle cry every day.
I started to combat the fears. It hadn’t rained yet and if it did, I was wearing boots. Crisis averted. I called my aunt and let her know that this crowd may not be what she is used to but if she was up for a different experience, we would have some fun. She surprised me with her answer of, while not condoning certain behaviors, she was accepting the people and was looking forward to meeting my friends. She held true to that statement too. She jumped right in with my friends, asking questions and taking notes of their stories. We danced, she made friends with total strangers, she learned how to pose for selfies – it was an epic bonding experience for us!
As we walked around checking out the village of vendors with their impressive setups, I happened to notice one in particular. This was an entire store dedicated to t-shirts that supported black magic. One shirt in particular opened my eyes in a whole new way. It read, “Satan loves you.” One simple black t-shirt was a slap across the face much harder than Papa’s punch to the stomach. That was what I needed to see. The comments and judgements that poured in from the local churches banning together against this festival, yet not willing to come meet the people. The actual, loveable, tens of thousands of people who were a captive audience. These people were looking for love like I had never seen. Men and women walking around with signs that read “free hugs.” That statement is hard to ignore. While the church was on the outside bashing something they did not know, the Deceiver had made his way into the gates to boldly claim he “loves” these beautiful people. I hope that statement alarms you as much as it has me. I keep rolling it around in my mind how much I just want to hug every person that comes through those gates and let them know that they are loved and they are cherished. Not by the master manipulator who calls them to wander and never find their true place of belonging. They are loved by a Father Who is right there at the concerts with them. Who wants to hug and love on them forever. Who wants to restore them from the brokenness and rejection they have experienced throughout their lifetime.
I finally got it; this is a place where no one is rejected, everything goes. Often times to the extreme. All body types are free to be exposed and be proud of. No one judges another based off their hair color or tattoos, skin color or country of origin. There is a lot of love in that place because it is so craved by all who have felt famished from it in other areas of their lives. What a beautiful concept of community that has been built on the false foundation that Satan loves them. Imagine if this community were built on the truth of how truly loved they are by the very Father who handcrafted each one of us! Who better to love us than the very God who knitted together our inmost being? He knows every desire, every longing, every void, every hurt and He cares enough to mend them if we would just give them over to Him. Last night was beyond the wildest night. Not only did we observe, we participated. Crowd surfers passing above us, head banging lessons, and learning their own unwritten etiquette - it was all new but oh so fun. Far beyond the magic of what I thought seeing the Foo Fighters would be. God has opened my eyes to a whole new way to love people and it doesn’t stop with just one night and one blog post. Let’s see where He takes this.
It's times like these you learn to live again It's times like these you give and give again It's times like these you learn to love again It's times like these time and time again
- Foo Fighters (Times Like These)
My all-time favorite Foo Fighters' song (live - left, acoustic recording, below)